Infowars Editor Cries During Deposition About Man He Misidentified As Parkland Shooter

A longtime employee for the conspiracy website Infowars broke down in tears during a deposition when he was confronted with the damage his article misidentifying a school shooter had allegedly caused.

“Reported Florida Shooter Dressed As Communist, Supported ISIS” said a false headline by Infowars editor Kit Daniels in 2018.

The story was posted just hours after a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day. The image accompanying the false headline was a man wearing a red shirt: the presumed shooter.

But it wasn’t the shooter. Instead, Marcel Fontaine ― who had never even been to Florida ― was suddenly on Infowars as the face of a man who killed students and teachers. Threats soon poured in, with people calling Fontaine a “crisis actor” involved in a “false flag operation” for the “deep state,” familiar buzzwords often repeated by Infowars’ hosts.

Later that year, Fontaine named Daniels, Infowars, and the program’s carnival-barker host, Alex Jones, as defendants in a defamation lawsuit. Fontaine is being represented by Texas law firm Farrar & Ball, the firm that also represents multiple Sandy Hook parents who recently won lawsuits against Jones for his lies about the 2012 school shooting.

In his deposition for the Parkland lawsuit last month, Daniels gave testimony that peels back the rickety ethical workings of the conspiracy outlet, and also appeared to show regret — a rarity in the Infowars orbit.

“I mean, that’s why I was crying earlier,” Daniels, 37, said in his Feb. 22 deposition. “I felt really bad for Mr. Fontaine, what he’s been dealing with.”

From 4chan To Infowars

In the four-hour deposition reviewed by HuffPost, Daniels expressed regret at times, defended his actions at others, and made plenty of bizarre claims in between. Daniels was deposed by Farrar & Ball attorney Bill Ogden.

When asked to give his false Infowars story a rating, Daniels gave it a 2 out of 10, and at one point compared himself to a quarterback that shouldn’t be taken out of the season because he “just happens to throw three interceptions in a game.” He responded “I don’t remember” to questions more than 60 times and “I don’t know” more than 70. At one point, Daniels cried when confronted about the harassment Fontaine faced. (You can watch the full deposition here).

Kit Daniels was featured in a conspiracy video calling into question the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017. (Photo: Farrar & Ball)
Kit Daniels was featured in a conspiracy video calling into question the Las Vegas mass shooting in 2017. (Photo: Farrar & Ball)

The day of the shooting, Daniels flocked to 4chan ― an anonymous image board website where neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, and alt-right trolls gather to share information ― to find more information about Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter. In a thread linking to Cruz’s purported Instagram account, a user also posted a photo of Fontaine, claiming it was Cruz.

Daniels didn’t second-guess it, according to his own testimony:

Ogden: But with Mr. Fontaine’s picture you used 4chan?

Daniels: Yes

Ogden: Do you think that’s reliable?

Daniels: At the time when I saw the link on 4chan to his Instagram account, I thought whoever posted that link might have found some other photos of Nikolas Cruz.

Ogden: Ok, go on.

Daniels: That’s all I have to say about it.

Ogden: So because somebody found his Instagram link, you assumed everything else they were posting was true?

Daniels: At the time, yes.

Ogden: Ok. Do you think that’s responsible reporting?

Daniels: Looking back, no.

In the photo posted to 4chan and later Infowars, Fontaine is raising a fist and wearing a red shirt that depicts historical Communist leaders including Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin holding red drinking cups. Karl Marx wears a lampshade on his head. It was a widely popular shirt in 2005 called “Communist Party.”

“Another alleged photo of the suspect shows communist garb,” read part of the fear-mongering article at the time.

If Daniels had done a reverse image search of the picture of Fontaine, he would have found that it had first been posted on 4chan four days before the shooting had ever taken place in a thread making fun of Fontaine.

“It’s kind of an important fact, right?” attorney Ogden asked Daniels in the deposition.

“I would say so,” Daniels responded.

“Especially if you could have done a reverse image search before spreading his photograph all over the nation alleging him to be a mass shooter, right?” Ogden pressed. “Right?” he asked again.

“Yes,” Daniels replied.

Less than a year before posting Fontaine’s image, Daniels wrote a different article, this time accusing the BBC of getting its sourcing wrong.

A headline written by Kit Daniels for Infowars in 2017. (Photo: Farrar & Ball)
A headline written by Kit Daniels for Infowars in 2017. (Photo: Farrar & Ball)

“BBC Falls Victim To 4Chan Trolling - The MSM Caught Sounding Like Idiots,” Daniels’ headline read.

“You could agree this one didn’t age well?” Ogden asked during the deposition.

“I would agree,” Daniels replied.

‘I Regret That This Happened’

At the start of the deposition, Daniels attempted to deflect blame from himself by claiming he’s not a journalist, but a social commentator, and blamed the Infowars audience for pressuring him to act quickly in a breaking news situation.

“Infowars, since they’re not journalists and there’s no race, wouldn’t they have plenty of time to make sure what they’re providing the people is true?” Ogden asked Daniels.

“Well, unfortunately our audience kind of dictates our time frame,” Daniels said.

Ogden later confronted Daniels with some of the threats Fontaine faced from the Infowars audience, and pointed out that other commenters were actually trying to tell Daniels that he’d gotten the wrong photo.

“Did you see that as a problem?” Ogden asked. “When people are out there posting links debunking the photo that you published, people were out there saying, ‘Oh, you’re drinking the Kool-Aid.’”

“I see it as a problem when I have comment section, certain people in the comment section are doing a better job than I was that day,” Daniels said.

Infowars commentators call into question the photo of Marcel Fontaine used to depict school shooter Nikolas Cruz. (Photo: Farrar & Ball)
Infowars commentators call into question the photo of Marcel Fontaine used to depict school shooter Nikolas Cruz. (Photo: Farrar & Ball)

The gravity of the damage Daniels allegedly caused appeared to set in when Ogden told him about Fontaine’s medical diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum and dealing with the slew of threats. Daniels began to break down in tears.

“I can understand the suffering he’s been through,” Daniels sobbed. “I deal with mental issues.”

After a short break, Daniels was asked what he would say to Fontaine when he eventually takes the stand in a courtroom.

“I regret that this happened,” Daniels replied.

“Why?” Ogden asked.

“Because I’ve been through the same thing with the death threats and the harassment campaigns and ... I just don’t see the purpose of why these people are attacking him.”

Commenters were attacking Fontaine because they believed him to be a mass shooter when he wasn’t.

Daniels also threw his own Infowars audience under the bus, accusing some of them of being “straight up schizophrenic.”

Daniels: If I’d known that photo of Fontaine was not Nikolas Cruz, I never would’ve posted it on the page.

Ogden: But the bigger problem is even when you take it down, right, there’s still people out there that don’t believe you. There’s comments out on the internet that say, “Oh, they got to Jones. This kid’s involved, but he’s so involved that the higher ups were able to get to Jones.”

Daniels: Well, some of those people, I hate to say, and again, I don’t like labeling people, but some of those people are straight up schizophrenic. Some of these people think Jones is like a part of this grand conspiracy, or they think that he’s [comedian] Bill Hicks or whatever.”

Despite his supposed remorse, Daniels continued to peddle conspiracy theories for Infowars. A day after the Parkland shooting, Daniels published another headline devoid of the facts.

“Strange: Responders Throw Body Bag In Back Of Truck Amid Florida Shooting” the false headline about the Parkland shooting read.

Months later, in December 2018, Daniels was promoted to managing editor of Infowars, making up to $90,000 a year. It’s a position he still holds today.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.