Shootings in high schools and other places have been the focus of a lot of controversy -- which means that everyone in the news industry is looking for a spin that will attract interest. One high-profile site, the InfoWars blog run by controversial conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones, may have gone a little too far, however, and defamed an innocent man.
This isn't the first time that the InfoWars blog has caused problems for innocent people by implicating them in real crimes and alleged cover-ups. The people named in their blogs often end up being the targets of hate mail, threats and other harassment by others who believe what they read without question.
In this case, the blog named a man from Massachusetts as the focus of the investigation into the now-infamous school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The blog included a photo of the man InfoWars identified as the Parkland shooter and said that he was a communist who supported the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group known as ISIS. The evidence that the man was "a communist," according to the blog, was the fact that he was sporting a novelty t-shirt with a joke about famous communist leaders from history.
The image and allegations quickly went viral. Millions of people saw it before learning that the real shooter was a former Parkland student. Many apparently still believe that the Massachusetts man is somehow connected to the tragedy, given the way that fake news spreads so much more freely than corrections.
The lawsuit points out that the InfoWars site often plays fast and free with the truth. It takes a reckless disregard for the lives of the people it implicates in national tragedies and alleged conspiracies. The lawsuit points to incidents like accusations that the yogurt company Chobani hired "migrant rapists" and the "Pizzagate" story that encouraged an armed man to threaten people inside a pizza shop as he looked for a child-sex ring.
This lawsuit -- and the several private settlements Jones has already been forced to make in other defamation cases -- should serve as a caution for other media professionals. The momentary fame gained from publishing reckless, undocumented accusations isn't worth the costs.
Source: Gizmodo, "InfoWars’ Alex Jones Hit With $1 Million Lawsuit for Falsely Implicating Man in Parkland Shooting," Dell Cameron, April 02, 2018