Embattled right-wing media personality Alex Jones was sued for defamation Monday by Chobani, the country’s largest yogurt company, after claiming its willingness to employ refugees at its Idaho plant brought crime and disease to the local community.
Chobani’s attorneys filed suit in Idaho District Court less than two weeks after the InfoWars publisher circulated a report, “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists,” containing allegations described by the company in Monday’s complaint as “extreme, outrageous” and maliciously intended.
Mr. Jones “published to thousands of subscribers and viewers on Twitter, YouTube and other platforms widely available to the public, false statements, including the false accusations that Chobani was ‘caught importing migrant rapists’ and that Chobani’s plant has brought ‘crime and tuberculosis’ to the Twin Falls community,” according to the lawsuit.
“Defendants’ defamatory statements were knowingly false or made with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements at the time the statements were made,” they added.
The April 11 report vaguely implicated Chobani owner Hamdi Ulukaya in a sexual assault case involving migrant children in Twin Falls, home of a Chobani plant branded as the world’s largest. According to the lawsuit, however, the report failed to contain any actual supporting evidence.
“Nowhere in the video do the Defendants state that the Plaintiff was ‘caught importing migrant rapists.’ Defendants promoted the video with the defamatory headline ‘Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists’ despite knowing that the statement was false or while clearly doubting the truth of the statement,” Chobani’s attorneys wrote.
The video prompted calls for a boycott of Chobani products, after it was published by Mr. Jones on his widely watched YouTube channel and InfoWars website, according to the company. Chobani is now seeking at least $10,000 in punitive damages.
Mr. Jones, 43, defended the report in a video statement Monday, insisting: “I’m not saying [Ulukaya] consciously brought in people he thought were going to rape, but people he brought in and force-fed on America have now been implicated, indicted and have plead guilty to that.”
The lawsuit brought against Mr. Jones and his companies this week hardly marks the only litigation he’s faced as of late. Last month, he acknowledged removing several reports involving the so-called “Pizzagate” conspiracy from his InfoWars website and YouTube channel in the face of legal threats. Tuesday, meanwhile, marked the start of the second week in a widely watched custody battle between Mr. Jones and his former wife involving the couple’s three children. Mr. Jones’ attorney in that case notably described his client as a “performing artist” last week, prompting calls about his professional reputation.
Millions of listeners tune-in to Mr. Jones’ regular internet and radio broadcasts, according to Monday’s lawsuit. President Trump previously appeared on the show in 2015, telling Mr. Jones: “Your reputation is amazing.”