On one side you have Hamdi Ulukaya, Turkish immigrant and founder of Chobani yogurt, the top-selling Greek brand of yogurt which employs approximately 2,000 at its processing plant in Twin Falls, Idaho.
On the other side, you have Alex Jones, the farrrrr-right (and I’m being kind) American radio show host and conspiracist-in-chief.
Ulukaya filed a lawsuit against Jones “for posting what [Chobani] called false news reports about the company and its owner,” The New York Times reports (Apr. 25).
“The suit,” The Times writes, “filed on Monday in district court in Twin Falls County, Idaho, named Mr. Jones and the media companies InfoWars and Free Speech Systems as defendants. It called “false” and “defamatory” several reports that appeared on InfoWars alleging that the company’s factory in Idaho, which employs refugees, was connected to a 2016 child sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis cases.
“The reports were published April 11 on InfoWars.com and on ‘The Alex Jones Channel’ on YouTube. They were promoted on Twitter under the headline ‘Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists,’ and were spread widely online.
“The founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish descent, has been the target of right-wing threats by people who accuse him of employing too many refugees in his factories, which began as a yogurt business in upstate New York and expanded to Twin Falls, a city of about 46,500 south of Boise.”
“One of the InfoWars stories that is the subject of Chobani’s lawsuit involved a 2016 sexual assault in Twin Falls that drew national headlines. The InfoWars video promoted on Twitter on April 11 reported that three children involved in the assault were refugees, and then it gave details of Chobani’s policy of hiring refugees in the city.
“The Twin Falls County prosecutor, Grant Loebs, said in an interview on Tuesday that the assault case had nothing to do with Chobani. He said he was not authorized to speak about the details because the case involved minors, although he noted that the local news media had been reporting on it since it happened last year. …
“The lawsuit filed by Chobani said Mr. Jones and his companies had declined to remove the reports or publish a retraction despite multiple written demands.
“It said the defendants acted with ‘actual malice’ to harm Chobani’s reputation and to discourage customers from purchasing its products. The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial, and the amount of ‘substantial damages’ Chobani has suffered will be provided at a trial.”
Jones’ response, the ol’ double-down: “We will defeat these people. This is my fight, this is your fight, this is our fight against a bunch of authoritarian, globalist, third-world populations allied with the global elite, who are totally coldblooded.”
Jones sits at the top of the heap (literally) as the most blatant peddler of real fake news having claimed, unsubstantiated mind you, that the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 was a “hoax” invented by individuals opposed to the Second Amendment. And claiming – again, unsubstantiated – that the 9/11 attacks were arranged by the U.S. government.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has devoted a full page to Jones and his false claims.
“In terms of the audience [Jones] reaches,” the Law Center writes, “he also may be the one with the most far-reaching influence in the nation’s history. Time after time, he warns without any evidence that terrorist attacks — from 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombings to the 2013 Washington Navy Yard mass murder — are actually ‘false flag’ operations by our government or evil ‘globalist’ forces planning to take over the world. To many, Jones is a bad joke. But the sad reality is that he has millions of followers who listen to his radio show, watch his “documentaries” and read his websites, and some of them, like Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, resort to deadly violence.”
While some listeners view Jones as a joke, he presents a real danger to others.
“Last month,” The Times reports, “Mr. Jones apologized for his role in spreading the hoax known as Pizzagate, which claimed, falsely, that top Democratic officials were involved with child abuse ring centered around Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant in Washington.”
In an interview several days after the arrest of Pizzagate terrorist Edgar M. Welch, Welch told The Times that he had been influenced by listening to Jones’ show about the child abuse ring connected to the D.C. pizzeria.
Fortunately, no one was killed or injured in the Pizzagate incident. But what happens in the future with others influenced by Jones’ rantings is anyone’s guess. While I support the First Amendment, I hope Chobani’s lawsuit forces Jones into bankruptcy.