InfoWars was warned its Sandy Hook coverage was unethical, former employee testifies
- Infowars' Alex Jones is on trial for defamation damages related to the Sandy Hook shooting.
- Ex-Infowars employee Robert Jacobson testified Friday that he warned the Sandy Hook coverage was unethical.
A former InfoWars employee testified on Friday that he warned the outlet's writers multiple times that they were violating journalistic ethics in their coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting — only to be met with "laughter and jokes."
Testimony continued on Friday in the defamation damages trial of Alex Jones, the prominent conspiracy theorist radio personality and founder of InfoWars. Jones has already been found guilty of defamation for repeatedly telling his audience that the Sandy Hook massacre — in which a shooter killed 26 people at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school in 2012 — was a "giant hoax" staged by government "actors."
The trial currently taking place in Travis County, Texas, deals with how much he owes Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, for defaming them.
The jury was shown a video deposition Friday morning from Robert Jacobson, who worked at InfoWars from 2004 until 2017.
Jacobson said that InfoWars' coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting and its reports pushing a conspiracy theory that the shooting was a hoax made him uncomfortable and that he visited the writers' room multiple times to make his opinion known.
"I did my best to make the writers and staff aware that what they were doing was speculation based on not enough information. It bothered me, that bothered me. I felt that they had no concept of journalistic ethics," Jacobson said.
"I tried to demonstrate what those ethics are and why they're violating them and what the damage could be ... only to be received with laughter and jokes," Jacobson said.
Jacobson said he was motivated to testify out of a sense of guilt for not having done more to change InfoWars' coverage of Sandy Hook, though he said he wasn't directly involved in covering the story for the company.
"I feel I have to right a wrong," he said.
Current InfoWars personality Owen Shroyer also testified on Friday about his guilt over the Sandy Hook coverage. It was his second day on the stand. On Thursday, Shroyer testified he "did no vetting" before he went live on-air to discuss a story about Heslin, which questioned whether statements Heslin had made about his last moments with his child were true.
When asked if there was anything he would recant about InfoWars' coverage of Sandy Hook, he said he regretted covering the story in the first place.
"I would just have not covered it at all. It's not a subject material I was familiar with and that four minutes of my life has caused tremendous negative effects on my career and livelihood," Shroyer said.
He said the company has made changes in the aftermath of its Sandy Hook coverage and that the company considers it a learning experience.
Personally, Shroyer said the experience has made him much more careful about how he covers news live.
"I am a lot less likely — if at all — to take something that is handed to me and go straight to air with it," he said.
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