The InfoWars host admitted his "opinions have been wrong," but insisted "they were never wrong consciously to hurt people"
Alex Jones, the InfoWars host facing a number of lawsuits over his repeated claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax, blamed his controversial comments on “psychosis” in a sworn deposition earlier this month.
Twenty students and six educators were killed in the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, though Jones has pushed conspiracy theories claiming the shooting was staged by the government using crisis actors in order to take guns away from citizens.
Jones, 45, spoke about his comments during a sworn deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by victims’ family members, a transcript of which was published by HuffPost.
“I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” he said in a three-hour long deposition on March 14. Video of the deposition was posted online by Texas law firm Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP.
“So I think as a pundit, someone giving an opinion, that, you know, my opinions have been wrong; but they were never wrong consciously to hurt people.”
When pressed on attributing his comments to “psychosis,” Jones claimed to have been traumatized by “lying” media.
“I’m just saying that the trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much, then everything begins — you don’t trust anything anymore, kind of like a child whose parents lie to them over and over again, well, pretty soon they don’t know what reality is,” he said.
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“So long before these lawsuits, I said in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group think of the communities that were out there saying that. And so now I see that it’s more in the middle. All right? So that’s where I stand.”
The host also attributed his distrust of law enforcement to “watching the police deal drugs and then conduct anti-drug programs” in his hometown of Rockwall, Texas, and claimed the public has been lied to so frequently by the mainstream media and the government that they don’t “believe what they’re told anymore.”
The Rockwall Police Department did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Jones is facing multiple defamation lawsuits from the families of Sandy Hook victims who claim his peddling of conspiracy theories have damaged both their reputations and inflicted mental anguish.
Both Heslin’s suit and the one brought by Pozner and De La Rosa “seek to address specific accusations made by Mr. Jones and Infowars in 2017 that our clients were participants in a sinister cover-up at Sandy Hook,” Mark D. Bankston, an attorney with Kaster, Lynch, Farrar and Ball, in Houston, told PEOPLE at the time.
In May, the families of four students and two educators who died, plus an FBI agent who responded to the shooting, also sued, accusing Jones of being “the chief amplifier for a group that has worked in concert to create and propagate loathsome, false narratives about the Sandy Hook shooting and its victims, and promote their harassment and abuse,” according to CNN.
Jones has previously described himself as a “devil’s advocate.” In a 2017 interview on NBC’s former program Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly, Jones stated, “I tend to believe that children probably did die there [at Sandy Hook].”
“But,” he continued, “then you look at all the other evidence on the other side.”
The liberal nonprofit Media Matters amassed a compilation of Jones’ comments, which showed that he has repeatedly denounced the mass shooting as alleged fiction, including labeling it a “giant hoax” in December 2014. Earlier that year, he said, “I’ve looked at it and undoubtedly there’s a cover-up.”
Jones attempted to explain his past statements as a means of sparking debate in a 20-minute segment on his radio show in November 2016.
Still, he maintained, “I’m going to be quite frank, I don’t know what really happened. I know there are real mass shootings. I know people lose children. I’m a father — it hurts my heart. So I don’t know what the truth is. All I know is the official story of Sandy Hook has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.”