Alex Jones in a still from Alex's War, directed by Alex Lee Moyer
Alex Jones in a still from Alex's War, directed by Alex Lee Moyer

The new documentary Alex’s War, by Alex Lee Moyer, shows that the Sandy Hook school shooting was far from the first time that Alex Jones claimed a national tragedy was a hoax: As the documentary illustrates, he made similar claims about the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and about 9/11. What was different about Sandy Hook is that this time, Alex Jones had a big enough platform for people to care about his falsehoods.

For years, he was like the dog chasing cars, yapping away but never catching one. With Sandy Hook, he finally caught the attention he craved — but it may break his jaws. Last week, Jones was ordered to pay nearly $50 million dollars in a defamation suit won last October by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was among 20 children and six adults killed in the deadliest classroom shooting in U.S. history. Jones admitted during the trial that the 2012 Sandy Hook attack was “100 percent real.”

In two decades, Jones rose from an Austin cable-access conspiracy theorist to the head of the multimillion-dollar InfoWars empire, influential enough that Donald Trump sought out his support in the 2016 election. We asked Alex Lee Moyer in our new interview about Alex’s War (above) if Jones ever thought he would be popular or influential enough for people to pay attention to his claims, much less sue over them.

Alex's War director Alex Lee Moyer Photo by Heji Shin

Alex’s War director Alex Lee Moyer. Photo by Heji Shin

“That’s definitely an interesting observation,” she replied. “I don’t think he knew that he just stepped into an abyss, no. … I feel like there was a little bit of a splash when he first made those remarks in 2012, but it really did sort of come back to haunt him later on when he had gained more massive notoriety because of his affiliation with Trump. That doesn’t mean that the statements are any less egregious or anything like that.” She noted that the rise of social media was likely a factor as well. “It definitely came back to bite him in the ass, that’s an understatement.”

Jones has been removed from several online platforms — including YouTube and Facebook — in response to his Sandy Hook comments. Play Nice, the production company behind Alex’s War, says technology companies’ rejection of Jones has even spilled over to Alex’s War. This Unherd article details Play Nice’s description of companies rejecting numerous attempts to promote the film.

Could the $49 million judgement against Alex Jones be the end of InfoWars? It remains to be seen. The company’s parent company has filed for bankruptcy, but attorneys for the Sandy Hook families say that’s just an attempt to avoid paying up. Plaintiff’s attorneys produced evidence during the case that InfoWars is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, though Jones says his net worth is less than $5 million.

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Jones claimed for years that the Sandy Hook shootings were orchestrated as part of a campaign to tighten U.S. gun laws. Heslin and Lewis testified last week that as a result of such false claims by Jones to his followers, they received online and telephone threats, were harassed on the street, and had gunshots fired at a home and car. Jones still faces several others lawsuits related to Sandy Hook.

Alex Jones discusses the 9/11 attacks in a still from Alex's War, directed by Alex Lee Moyer

Alex Jones discusses the 9/11 attacks in a still from Alex’s War, directed by Alex Lee Moyer

But in Alex’s War, Alex Lee Moyer chose not to fixate on the trial. Alex’s War doesn’t note, for example, that Alex Jones lost his lawsuit to Heslin and Lewis back in October — which set him up for the $49 million judgment last week.

“I didn’t want to make a movie that just spiraled out and became all about the ins and outs of the Sandy Hook trial,” she said. “I had one very specific mission, which was to say, ‘Hey — what does this person think that he’s doing? What is this perspective?’ Which is a perspective that you’re not ever going to get anywhere else. And yeah, it’s sort of like an unusual choice. But intelligent people can go and call bullshit on Alex. That’s fine. I invite them to do that on this film. But I’m not going to be sabotaging my work and trying to hold myself morally accountable for the things that this other person has done.”

Alex’s War is now in theaters and available on VOD.