A witness to the horrific murder of a counter-protester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia is suing InfoWars and several other media outlets for defamation. Brennan Gilmore, a foreign service officer at the State Department, alleges that the outlets harmed his career by alleging he was part of a “deep state” conspiracy.
The lawsuit, names InfoWars parent company, Free Speech System, right-wing outlet The Gateway Pundit, and seven individuals as defendents. Gilmore claims that his life was upended after he posted a video to Twitter of a car slamming into counter-protestors on the streets of Charlottesville.
The “Unite the Right” rally attracted white supremacists to the small college town last August. After holding a tiki torch rally and giving Nazi salutes, many people took to the streets to oppose the white supremacists. Gilmore witnessed the murder of counter-protester Heather Heyer, tweeted video of the incident captioned: “Video of car hitting anti-racist protestors. Let there be no confusion: this was deliberate terrorism. My prayers with victims. Stay home.”
In a lawsuit filed by pro bono attorneys with Georgetown Law’s civil rights clinic, Gilmore claims that Alex Jones and others in the fringe conspiracy world began to insinuate (and outright accuse) that he is a member of a George Soros-funded effort to sow discord in America. You can see and read numerous examples of Gilmore’s accusations in the lawsuit itself.
In one instance, an InfoWars video titled, “Bombshell Connection Between Charlottesville, Soros, CIA,” one of the defendants, Lee Stranahan, is interviewed by a reporter about the incident. Stranahan outlines a theory that Gilmore might be trying to turn Heyer into a martyr as part of a larger effort to kick off a coup in America. Stranahan’s comments might conceivably be understood to be his opinion, but the InfoWars video caption explicitly reads, “investigative reporter Lee Stranahan reveals the same players involved in the Ukraine overthrow are working behind the scenes to oust President Trump.”
Gilmore’s lawsuit claims that Jones proceeded to share the video on social media and published follow-up pieces that framed Charlottesville as a “staged” act, executed by by left-wing political operatives, and funded by Soros. Jones went further in another video, titled, “Breaking: State Department/CIA Orchestrated Charlottesville Tragedy.” In a rambling monologue Jones said in part:
They had known CIA and State Department officials in Charlottesville, first tweeting, first being on MSNBC, CNN, NBC. The mayor is involved. Everybody is a cut-out . . . . They got State Department and high-level CIA. One guy is paid 320,000 a year on the payroll of [George] Soros. He doesn’t just get money from Soros, he personally is paid 320 a year, and then he is there—CIA, State Department—and he is on the news. And when people pointed out who he was, they took his name of the State Department website and stuff, but Google has all the [screen] shots of it. I mean it’s like WOW, WOW—CIA? Your senior guys? And you’re so stupid on TV, “oh I saw ‘m run over, I saw the racists, I saw the white supremacists attack, oh I’m the guy being interviewed first . . .”
Gilmore’s lawyers wrote in the lawsuit, “The ‘high-level CIA’ and ‘State Department guy’ that Defendant Jones is referring to is Mr. Gilmore.” And as for the Soros connection, they say, “Defendant Jones appears to be suggesting that a campaign donation by George Soros to Tom Perriello’s gubernatorial campaign was in reality a personal payment to Mr. Gilmore.”
The ripple effects that these pieces and others had online is thoroughly documented in the lawsuit. Gilmore is seeking $75,000 for the damages done to his personal relationships, his career, and the subsequent harassment he and his family have experienced. According to the suit, Gilmore has experienced “an overwhelming volume of hate mail and death threats, hacking attempts, and even in-person harassment on the streets of Charlottesville.”
We’ve asked InfoWars for comment but did not immediately receive a reply. On Monday, Alex Jones responded to the lawsuit in an hour-long video titled “Exclusive! Leftists Sue Alex Jones For Questioning Charlottesville MSM PR Campaign.” Well, “responded” might be a strong word. Jones spent around 20 minutes talking about satanists, pedophiles, demon orgies, and generally “jacking into evil.”
After a long section in which he outlined a parallel between his battle and that of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, Jones finally got to talking about mainstream elites suing him with Soros’ money. He said that they “misrepresent” what he says. “Fake quotes of articles that don’t exist, fake headlines for videos that don’t exist,” he said.
He specifically pointed out that an article cited in the lawsuit with the headline, “George Soros Needs to be Charged and Arrested for Sedition and Causing Charlottesville,” actually had the word “chaos,” at the end. He wasn’t saying Soros caused Charlottesville, he was saying Soros caused the chaos. Without going into how that changes any of Gilmore’s defamation claims, Jones then began to conjure suspicion around Reuters hearing about the lawsuit before he did.
InfoWars has been on thin ice with YouTube for violating its terms of service by spreading false information, and advertisers have been requesting their ads be removed from any videos on the channel. Outside of legal issues related to his news content, Jones is also being sued for workplace harassment and copyright infringement. We wish we could say his erratic response to these latest claims could be attributed to the pressure he must be feeling, but it’s really no different than it’s ever been.