The Truth vs Alex Jones, Sky Documentaries, review: a harrowing, borderline unbearable watch

Shockingly, 24 per cent of Americans believe that Sandy Hook was either definitely or possibly staged; conspiracy theorist Jones
Shockingly, 24 per cent of Americans believe that Sandy Hook was either definitely or possibly staged; conspiracy theorist Jones - Olivier Douliery/AFP

The Truth vs Alex Jones (Sky Documentaries) was so harrowing that I found it unbearable to watch.

The parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut recounted their memories of that day in December 2012. The children were first graders, aged six or seven. Twenty were shot dead, along with six teachers, by a gunman who walked into their classrooms and murdered them at close range.

One father had been up early, watching the sunrise with his little boy. “I have a picture of the sunrise that morning, with the Christmas tree lights reflecting in the window, and I really wish I’d turned the camera around and taken a picture of him.” Another parent had considered keeping his son off school that day but let him go because he was so excited: his class would be making a gingerbread house for the holidays.

But it is important to understand the horror of that day, and the devastation felt by those parents, because this documentary contained an astonishing statistic: 24 per cent of Americans believe that Sandy Hook was either definitely or possibly staged. That’s 75 million people. And one of those responsible is Alex Jones, the blowhard conspiracy theorist who began telling his audience within hours of the shooting that it was a “false flag”, and that the parents were hired actors.

Dan Reed’s two-hour film followed the parents as they took Jones to court for defamation and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. They had endured years of people calling them liars in the street and telling them that their children didn’t exist.

One family received a letter from someone who said they had urinated on their child’s grave, “knowing” that there was no body buried there. Rape and death threats were sent to parents’ homes. What the families’ lawyers – and this documentary – did so effectively was to show that Jones believes none of this and is simply out for financial gain. He knows that putting out garbage on his channel (“FBI says no one killed at Sandy Hook”) brings online traffic and a resulting uptick in sales for the vitamin supplements he flogs.

It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so dangerous. Jones cut a callous figure in court (he was ordered to pay over $1 bn in damages but has filed for bankruptcy and continues to broadcast). But the film raised a bigger issue. Why do so many people believe such rubbish? Are they malicious? Afraid? Or just incredibly stupid? As one lawyer put it: you can remove Jones from the picture, but not the greater problem that allowed him to flourish.