Will the Alex Jones verdict tame conspiracy culture?

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Alex Jones.
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A Texas jury last week ruled that Infowars founder Alex Jones should pay the parents of one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting nearly $50 million in compensatory and punitive damages for claiming the massacre was a hoax. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, who had sought $150 million from Jones, said during the trial that Jones' bogus claim that the government staged the attack to justify taking away Americans' guns had resulted in harassment and death threats from his followers. During the trial, Jones acknowledged that the shooting, which left 20 children and six educators dead in 2012, was "100 percent real."

During Jones' testimony, plaintiff attorney Mark Bankston confronted Jones with text messages from his phone that were accidentally handed over by his own lawyers, and he suggested the texts proved that Jones had lied on the witness stand. He then pointed out several texts and other evidence that contradicted Jones' previous testimony. Jones' company declared bankruptcy during the trial.

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.