19:16, May 17 134 0 theguardian.com

2017-05-17 19:16:02

 

Alex Jones retracts false stories about Chobani in defamation settlement

Rightwing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said Wednesday that he had retracted previous stories and tweets about Chobani and regretted them, settling a defamation lawsuit brought by the yoghurt giant.

The brief statement read by Jones at the end of his radio show is a reversal from previous claims that he would never back down in the defamation case.

Chobani had argued in its lawsuit that Jones and his InfoWars website posted fabricated stories in April that linked Chobani owner Hamdi Ulukaya and the company to a sexual assault case involving refugee children. The company filed the lawsuit in Idaho district court in Twin Falls, where it operates the largest yoghurt plant in the world.

Jones said during his broadcast: “During the week of 10 April 2017, certain statements were made on the InfoWars Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani that I now understand to be wrong.

“The tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be reposted. On behalf of InfoWars, I regret that we mischaracterized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho, the way we did.”

This is not Jones’s first apology over a false story. In March, Jones also apologized for promoting the “pizzagate” conspiracy rumors that led to a gunman firing an AR-15 rifle in a Washington DC pizza restaurant as he “self-investigated” a bogus theory that the Comet Ping Pong restaurant was at the center of a child sex-abuse plot and Democratic leaders.

In a nearly six-minute video, he read a statement in which he apologized to James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, and tried to minimize his role in spreading the rumors.

“I made comments about Mr Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him,” Jones said. “We relied on third-party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant. We also relied on accounts of reporters who are no longer with us.”

Jones, whose InfoWars site is known as America’s foremost conservative conspiracy theory outlet, has previously dismissed the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 elementary school students and six school staff were murdered, as “completely fake”, and has branded the September 11 terror attacks an “inside job”. During the recent US presidential race, Donald Trump took the unprecedented step of appearing for an interview on Jones’s site. Trump was interviewed for about 30 minutes by Jones in December 2015, and later called Jones a “nice guy”.