Infowars, the right-wing conspiracy theory site founded by Alex Jones, does not regret publishing false claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was a hoax, according to a new deposition with news director Rob Dew exclusively obtained by BuzzFeed News.
“I think our reporting stopped what was going to be a lot of anti-gun legislation that was coming down,” Dew said, adding, “I am proud of that.”
The nearly two-hour deposition with Dew provided a glimpse into the inner workings of the shadowy media operation, detailing how its founder and employees created news stories and sold them as the “real” truth to millions of viewers. It comes amid the ongoing and catastrophic fall of Jones, who has been largely banned from Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In the past year, Jones has lost a number of appeals in defamation cases brought by the families of Sandy Hook victims and has been ordered to pay thousands in fines for not taking the suits seriously and destroying evidence. Meanwhile, two of his former employees have accused him of discrimination and harassment. (Jones has denied the claims.) Earlier this month, an ex-producer wrote a damning account in the New York Times describing how Jones fed his audience’s “prejudices and fears.”
In the newly released deposition, Dew — acting as the representative of Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems — repeatedly said he did not know, did not remember, or was not prepared to answer almost every question about how he, Jones, and other employees found and verified their information about the Sandy Hook shooting before claiming it as fact and blasting it across their sprawling network of platforms.
Dew claimed he did not remember how he and Jones obtained evidence used to support narratives in videos like “Sandy Hook was a DHS Illusion” and “Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed,” and said he was proud of Infowars’ coverage and never meant to “hurt families.”
Dew also argued that the site’s Sandy Hook coverage helped thwart Democrats’ attempts at pushing gun control legislation, calling Infowars the “stewards of the Second Amendment.”
“We never told anybody to go after people’s families,” he said. “We see events like these…even today when these events happen and the next thing that comes out of a politician’s mouth is ‘We’re going to grab people’s guns.’”
Speaking on behalf of Jones’ company, he rejected any responsibility for the emotional distress and harassment that Jones’ fans have inflicted on victims’ family members after watching and reading Infowars.
“I am not responsible for what someone else does,” Dew told Bill Ogden and Mark Bankston, Texas attorneys with Farrar & Ball, who are representing four Sandy Hook families.
Throughout the deposition, Dew seemed unprepared to answer even basic questions, stating that his only preparation was speaking with his attorney.
He did not know when Infowars stopped reporting on Sandy Hook. He didn’t have any information about the 10 or so employees who contributed to the dozen-plus videos cited in multiple lawsuits as being fake and harmful, nor could he tell the attorneys anything about the sourcing for those videos. In one instance, Ogden asked Dew which employee had researched and reported a video from March 2014 titled “Sandy Hook: False Narrative vs. Reality.” The news director said he didn’t remember and was unable to find the video to refresh his memory, though he had provided that very video to the court.
“In this case are you aware that you produced this video to me,” Ogden cut in.
“The problem is…the titles that you are referring to…the YouTube titles, those aren’t always the titles of the videos when they’re uploaded,” he replied.
“Mr. Dew, you gave me this video,” the attorney said.
In another exchange, Bankston and Ogden asked Dew about a conversation he had had with his uncle, a former FBI agent whom Jones used as a source to claim that the mass shooting was a cover-up.
“So when Alex Jones went on the air and said that a retired FBI agent said, ‘All of this is fake’ — that’s not your uncle being involved in sourcing information for these videos?” the attorney asked.
“No, that might have been Alex’s interpretation of what I told him,” Dew said. “What my uncle specifically said was that ‘I’ve never been to a meeting with government people where nobody knows nothing’ — that’s what he said.”
Throughout his deposition, Dew argued that the bulk of Infowars’ content is indeed journalism and that the site’s mission is to “get the truth as best you can.”
“On some instances we were wrong,” he said. “I am not sorry for being wrong. People get things wrong all the time.”