The Chills at Will Podcast podcast

Episode 150 with Elizabeth Williamson, The Reflective, Dogged, Balanced, and Well-Researched Journalist for The New York Times and Author of Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth

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Episode 150 Notes and Links to Elizabeth’s Work 


    On Episode 150 of The Chills at Will Podcast, Pete welcomes Elizabeth Williamson, and the two discuss, among other topics, her research into the Sandy Hook murders and the earliest conspiracy theories that have continued to morph to this day, the ways in which both victimizers and victimized have reacted to the tragedy, the “throughlines” between historical conspiracy theories and conspiracists and events like 9/11, January 6, and other mass shootings, Alex Jones as the catalyst for and follower of the propaganda, as well as possible remedies for limiting hate speech and online abuse.

    Elizabeth Williamson is a feature writer in the Washington bureau, and a former member of the New York Times editorial board. She has worked at the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and spent a decade as a foreign correspondent in Eastern Europe. She is the author of Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth, published by Dutton.



March 2022 Review of Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth in The New York Times by Robert Kolker


Elizabeth Williamson's New York Times Profile


Buy Sandy Hook: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth




At about 7:00, Elizabeth gives a summary of the book and shouts out Dutton Books, her publisher


At about 7:55, Elizabeth describes the genesis of the book and cites Lenny Pozner and other important people featured in the book 


At about 10:30, Elizabeth cites throughlines between previous conspiracy theories and their connections to the Sandy Hook conspiracies


At about 11:50, Elizabeth responds to Pete’s questions about maintaining objectivity in the wake of overt lies about such a tragedy  


At about 16:20, Elizabeth references James Fetzer and his history of conspiracy theories


At about 17:30, Elizabeth lays the background of understandable reticence to believe government stories and the leap to believing genuine conspiracy theories


At about 18:35, Elizabeth details her first and only conversation with Alex Jones and responds to Pete’s questions about what compels/allows him to denigrate and abuse victims and survivors like he does


At about 20:30, Pete cites a profound quote from Veronique DelaRosa regarding dehumanization that comes with social media and “the remove that it creates”


At about 23:00, Elizabeth discusses Scarlett Lewis’  “compelling” and “cathartic” testimony in front of Alex Jones


At about 24:40, Elizabeth draws parallels between Alex Jones and Donald Trump


At about 25:25, Pete talks about the power of the beginning of the book and asks Elizabeth what she discovered about the victims’ families and finding a balance between public exposure and activism/privacy and grieving 


At about 28:40, The two talk about Robbie Parker and others who were seized upon as supposed players in a conspiracy 


At about 30:00, Pete wonders about the psychology that propels obsessives, and Elizabeth gives evidence from her research to address the issues that have made conspiracists pursue their theories 


At about 33:35, Pete asks Elizabeth about Alex Jones and his ideology versus his desire to get fame and make money


At about 36:20, Pete talks about the Prologue and cites the pathos involved and asks Elizabeth about any “remedies” she might see for combatting conspiracy theories, as well as what the latest judgments mean for the Sandy Hook families and for Alex Jones 


At about 40:40, Elizabeth talks about discussions in government circles about regulation around social media abuse and conspiracy theory-mongering

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    Please tune in for Episode 151 with Allison Hedge Coke. Her Dog Road Woman won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She is a King-Chavez-Parks awardee, an IPPY Medalist, a Pen Southwest Book Award winner, and she was also awarded an NWCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The episode will air on November 8.


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