The publisher of a book claiming the Sandy Hook shootings were a hoax apologized to Lenny Pozner, the father of one of the victims, several weeks ago, agreed to stop selling the book, and issued a statement saying he believes Pozner’s son Noah did really die in the attack. Shortly after, though, the publisher, Dave Gahary, auctioned off some of the last copies of the book with starting bids at more than twice the normal price. And in a recent conversation with Splinter, Gahary said he still has “questions” about what happened at Sandy Hook.
“My views aren’t so set in stone that I can say nobody died at Sandy Hook,” Gahary said. “I just have questions, like everybody else does.” (Most people do not have questions about Sandy Hook, a mass shooting in which 27 people died, 20 of them children, plus the perpetrator.)
Pozner, whose son Noah was the youngest victim in the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, won a defamation lawsuit in mid-June against James Fetzer and Mike Palecek, the editors of the book Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, which was published by Gahary’s Moon Rock Books. Pozner is the lead plaintiff in at least nine other defamation cases against Sandy Hook hoaxers, according to CBS.
Fetzer is an emeritus professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a longtime promoter of various conspiracy theories; besides Sandy Hook, he’s called the Holocaust “falsified” and promoted conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination and 9/11. Palecek is a writer in Minnesota who describes himself as a “former federal prisoner for peace.” He’s also so little-known that some news stories about the case misspelled his name. Moon Rock Books publishes conspiracy titles claiming several mass casualty events, including the Parkland shootings and the Boston Marathon bombings, were all false flags.
A judge in Wisconsin issued a summary judgment against Fetzer and Palecek in mid-June; at the same time, in a settlement agreement that remains partially confidential, Gahary agreed to stop selling Nobody Died at Sandy Hook after June 30. (In response, Fetzer said that “my day in court did not turn out as expected,” and continued to insist that one of the pieces of evidence in his book was true.)
The two sides came to the agreement, Gahary told Splinter, when he traveled to Wisconsin from the Florida Panhandle to be deposed in the lawsuit (though his deposition ultimately didn’t happen).
“I was 100 percent sure [Pozner] wasn’t going to show up,” Gahary said. But Pozner did, and Gahary was in the room to watch his deposition. In the process, he says, something changed for him.
“One of the things that struck me was how gracious Lenny was to come there and answer all the questions,” Gahary said. Seeing him for many hours over a period of a few days, he added, “It was easy to come to the conclusion that the odds someone would be lying about this were very low. So I shook his hand, I apologized and said ‘If there’s anything I have done to contribute to your misery, let me know what I can do to minimize that.’”
Gahary and Pozner and their lawyers ultimately came to an agreement that Moon Rock Books would stop selling the books on June 30; both sides say that other settlement terms remain confidential.
As has been widely reported, Gahary also issued a statement apologizing to the Pozner family, saying in part: “My face-to-face interactions with Mr. Pozner have led me to believe that Mr. Pozner is telling the truth about the death of his son. I extend my most heartfelt and sincere apology to the Pozner family. As a result, Moon Rock Books has decided to discontinue publishing and selling Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.” (The rest of the statement can be read in full at The Wrap.)
The story could’ve tidily ended there, but it didn’t. Those heartfelt and sincere apologies didn’t mean that Moon Rock didn’t rush to sell out what suddenly became a hot, rare commodity. On June 23, they sent out an email blast announcing that slightly damaged copies of the book would be sold for half-price. Then, just before June 30, Gahary and Moon Rock Books auctioned off 10 copies of the first edition of the book, with starting bids at $50. (Gahary said that black-and-white versions of the book ordinary went for $20 and color for $30.)
“The $50 [amount] was arrived at arbitrarily,” Gahary said. “We thought that instead of selling it for $100, let’s say, that we would put it out in an auction arena, an auction format and let people decide what the fair market value was of that, and I think they did.”
Gahary said he felt fine about the decision to sell the book for as long as possible, despite his conversation with Pozner.
“I didn’t have any discomfort selling the book,” he said. “I don’t have any discomfort selling these type of books because I think it’s up to the individual to make the decision. That’s the healthy thing that people should do. If they’re revolted by such a topic, that’s fine, that’s their feeling. If they’re excited about such a topic, that somebody’s talking about it and putting their thoughts down on paper into book form, that’s fine as well. I don’t really have any emotions when it comes to this, other than the emotion that people should never be restricted as to what they should be able to read. And I think that’s the overriding feeling that I have about all this. But it’s not that I ever wanted to hurt anybody’s feelings. That’s what I told him when I met him.”
In the end, Gahary said, the books all sold, one for more than $100. “What’s important was that decision was made and the books aren’t being sold anymore,” he said. He added that he wouldn’t sell another Sandy Hook book “because of my interactions with Lenny.”
“I would say no,” he said. “When I decide something I don’t change my mind. I’m never going to be compromised. I’m never going to have a lot of money. That’s the way I am. I sleep well at night. I don’t hurt anything. I don’t even kill insects. And I wouldn’t do it because I made him a promise and I’m a man of my word.”
But despite his newfound admiration for Pozner, Gahary also indicated to Splinter that he still has “questions” about Sandy Hook and the other parents and families whose children also died. In our conversation, he referenced a YouTube video popular among Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists that supposedly shows a Sandy Hook father “laughing” when he “thought he was off-camera,” as Gahary put it. (The videos are implying the father was an actor.)
“I know that many people have the same feeling, that this event in Sandy Hook is rather odd,” he added. “It’s not that I came to the conclusion that nobody died at Sandy Hook or that people did die at Sandy Hook. My position is that I wasn’t there. I don’t have firsthand knowledge. The government and the media have done many things historically, they have lied... That’s just a fact. For anybody to actually believe the government unequivocally and immediately and the mainstream media, they’re idiots. Why would you do that?”
Gahary continues to insist he can’t possibly know what really happened at Sandy Hook, not yet. “When I met Lenny I could only make a determination based on him,” he said. “Not the rest of the parents. Maybe if I met the rest of the parents, my views would change.”
In a statement, Jacob Zimmerman, Pozner’s lawyer, told Splinter:
The Court’s ruling represents a clear and unequivocal victory for the Pozner family and for Noah’s memory. It is also a victory for the other families who lost children at Sandy Hook and that have been harassed for years by these conspiracy theorists. But the decision has much wider implications. It is a victory for the people of Newtown and the surrounding communities that have had to live with hoaxers and their incessant accusations. Finally, it is a victory for truth in a world that has been overrun by “alternative facts.” Mr. Pozner’s courage in bringing this case has led to a ruling that affirms the reality of the Sandy Hook tragedy and is a first step in protecting the memory of those that died that day.
Correction, 3:56 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified James Fetzer and Mike Palecek as the book’s authors, not its editors.