One week after kicking disgraced U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his way out the door, John Oliver returned to the Last Week Tonight desk on Sunday to weigh in on the defamation trial of unhinged conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was found liable for falsely claiming the Sandy Hook massacre was a “hoax” filled “with actors.”
The jury awarded Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of slain 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, $45.2 million in punitive damages and $4.1 million in compensatory damages. Jones, 48, is facing additional defamation suits in Connecticut and Texas.
After describing Jones as “a man who boldly answers the question: What if Grimace were a Proud Boy?” Oliver exclaimed, “Guess what, Alex? You fucked with info and this time info fucking won.” He added: “And the way he’s handled this trial is almost a master class in what not to do in court.”
For starters, as Oliver pointed out, the judge became so “exasperated” with Jones’ lying in court that she at one point stopped the proceedings to address it, telling him, “It seems absurd to instruct you again that you must tell the truth while you testify, but here I am: You must tell the truth while you testify… this is not your show.”
That didn’t stop Jones, who continued to appear during the trial on his truth-averse Infowars show, where he, according to Oliver, “baselessly linked [the judge] to pedophilia” and suggested that his political enemies stacked the jury with “blue-collar” people who were not capable of deciding the damages he should pay. This is typical of Jones, who once claimed that the government had been poisoning the water and made frogs turn gay, that Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg was a crisis actor, that the car attack in Charlottesville was a false flag operation, that Michelle Obama is transgender, and that 9/11 was “a government-orchestrated controlled bombing.”
“There was one twist that he may not have seen coming,” Oliver said of Jones’ trial.
A lawyer representing the parents of the slain Sandy Hook child presented a text message in court that proved Jones had lied on the stand when he claimed that there were no texts on his phone of him discussing Sandy Hook. When Jones expressed surprise at where the lawyer might have gotten it, he explained to Jones: “Did you know [that] 12 days ago your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cellphone, with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years? And when informed, [they] did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way? And as of two days ago, it fell free and clear into my possession, and that is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have text messages about Sandy Hook.”
“This is your Perry Mason moment,” a stunned Jones responded.
“Oh shit!” exclaimed Oliver. “First, credit to that lawyer for having the superhuman patience to sit on those text messages for 12 whole days… but the content of Jones’ phone could become a problem for him. Not only has the Jan. 6 committee already requested those phone records, but they also show that Jones, who’s tried to plead poverty in this case, was earning revenue of as much as $800,000 per day in recent years from sales.”
Oliver concluded: “Look, clearly, none of this is going to stop him. There are two more trials coming up, and he’s probably going to find ways to turn those into a clown show as well and fundraise off them too. But at the very least, this phone thing could make his life much more difficult—and for a while. And that is something that we should all be allowed to enjoy, because to wake up one morning and find out that Alex Jones’ lawyers mistakenly shared his cellphone records is a true blessing. We don’t deserve this, but one thing’s for sure: He definitely does.”