Infowars Host Disrupts House Impeachment Hearing
Infowars, the website founded by Alex Jones that traffics in conspiracy theories, has been largely banned by Apple, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
But one of the site’s personalities still managed to disrupt the House impeachment hearing on Monday, using his verified Twitter account to carry out a publicity stunt.
[Read live updates on Monday’s impeachment hearing.]
Moments after Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, banged a gavel to open the hearing, the Infowars host, Owen Shroyer, used Twitter to broadcast video of himself rising from his seat in the packed hearing room and shouting, “Jerry Nadler and the Democrat Party are committing treason against this country!”
Mr. Shroyer continued to stream video of himself railing against Democrats and defending President Trump as the Capitol Police quickly escorted him from the room.
“Trump is innocent!” Mr. Shroyer shouted.
Mr. Shroyer’s stunt during the widely televised hearing came despite efforts by major technology companies to wipe Infowars and most of its content from their platforms, as they struggle to contain the spread of misinformation online.
[From The New York Times Magazine: I worked for Alex Jones. I regret it.]
Last year, Apple, Facebook and YouTube, which is owned by Google, severely restricted the reach of Infowars and Mr. Jones after years in which they spread dark conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11 attacks, the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing, among other tragedies.
Twitter also banned the accounts of Mr. Jones and Infowars last year, saying both had violated its policies, which prohibit direct threats of violence and some forms of hate speech but allow deception or misinformation.
Yet Mr. Shroyer remains active on Twitter, where he has more than 120,000 followers, and effectively used the site and its streaming video service, Periscope, to promote his interruption as Mr. Nadler began his opening statement.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
“So I’m being arrested right now for disrupting Congress,” Mr. Shroyer says in one video posted to his Twitter account, which appears to show him being handcuffed by Capitol Police officers after he was removed from the room. “I’m a criminal for my First Amendment rights.”
A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, Eva M. Malecki, said one individual had been charged Monday with disruption of Congress, but she did not immediately confirm that it was Mr. Shroyer.
On his show, Mr. Jones has played video of Mr. Shroyer claiming that Neil Heslin, the father of one of the Sandy Hook victims, did not hold the body of his 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, in his arms after the shooting.
“He’s claiming that he held his son and saw the bullet hole in his head,” Mr. Shroyer said on the show. “That is not possible.”
Last year, Mr. Heslin was one of three parents who sued Mr. Jones for defamation, part of a series of legal actions against Mr. Jones, who has called the Sandy Hook shooting a hoax perpetrated by the government.
As a candidate in 2015, Mr. Trump, who has shown an affinity for conspiracy theories, appeared on Infowars for a nearly half-hour interview with Mr. Jones.
“Your reputation is amazing,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Jones. “I will not let you down.”
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