Alex Jones, who runs the far-right website Infowars, is facing another defamation lawsuit, this time for falsely depicting a 24-year-old man from Boston as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter who opened fire at the high school on February 14 and killed 17 people.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Monday, lists Jones, Infowars, Free Speech Systems and the author of the article, Kit Daniels, as defendants in the case. Marcel Fontaine, a 24-year-old Massachusetts resident, is the plaintiff.
“The day the shooting happened Infowars published an article alleging that the Florida shooter was a communist and depicted a photograph of our client,” Bill Ogden, a lawyer representing Fontaine told Salon. “It was shared on Google, Instagram, and had millions of shares, because of that our client started getting pushback, responses and was contacted with death threats; it has emotionally affected him.”
The original article, which has since been retracted, displayed a photo of Fontaine wearing a satirical “communist party” t-shirt —adorned with communist leaders like Stalin, Lenin and Mao drinking from red Solo cups. In the original iteration, preluding the image, Daniels wrote, ”and another alleged photo of the suspect shows communist garb.” As the lawsuit explains:
“It appears that Mr. Fontaine was targeted by InfoWars due to the t-shirt he was wearing in his photograph. That novelty t-shirt, sold by online retailer Threadless.com, makes a visual pun on the phrase “communist party” by depicting 11 communist historical figures in a state of merriment and intoxication, complete with German economist Karl Marx wearing a lampshade on his head.”
Ogden isn’t sure where the photo came from, or exactly how Infowars obtained it, but he speculated that it originated from a post on a “Japanese cartoon image board, which was soon taken down after.”
Fontaine's lawsuit concedes that it’s difficult to estimate how many people saw the false accusation, but contends that it likely reached “hundreds of millions.” Ogden told Salon that Fontaine is seeking emotional support and treatment following the incident, citing reputational damage.
“Due to Defendants’ conduct, Plaintiff’s image has been irreparably tainted. InfoWars’ story became a lie told 'round the world,” the lawsuit states. “Further compounding the defamation is the fact that Mr. Jones, Mr. Daniels, and other employees have used InfoWars’ various media platforms to cast doubt on the facts surrounding the Florida shooting, just as InfoWars has done with prior national tragedies.”
This isn’t the only defamation lawsuit Jones is currently facing.
In mid-March, Jones was also slapped with another defamation lawsuit, filed by Brennan Gilmore, who had captured footage of the car that killed Heather Heyer at the “Unite the Right” rally. Gilmore was painted as “being a CIA or “deep state” operative who helped orchestrate Fields’ attack as a “false flag,” according to the lawsuit.
In the most recent lawsuit, Ogden explained that Infowars isn’t a “mom and pop shop.” It’s a website that gets roughly 30 million page-views per month.
“Mr. Jones feeds his audience a steady diet of false information intended to convince them that a shadowy association of global elites are hatching countless insidious schemes to destroy their way of life or threaten their bodily fluids,” the lawsuit states.
“There has been a lot of talk about 'fake news,' and that we are trying to make a bigger change. We aren’t,” Ogden told Salon. “We hope it has that effect, but this case is about our client and the injustices that were done to him.”