(CN) – Infowars creator Alex Jones and other right-wing media personalities were sued Tuesday by a former State Department official who says they made him a target of harassment after he posted a video showing a car attack during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Brennan Gilmore, who attended the Aug. 12, 2017, rally as a counterprotester, witnessed the attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens more.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Charlottesville, Gilmore says the video of the attack that he posted on Twitter quickly went viral and led to his being interviewed by several national media outlets.
Soon after, he claims, white supremacists and others started spreading lies about him and threatened both him and his family.
“Defendants thought they had their scapegoat in Mr. Gilmore, and attacked his presentation of the sequence of events based on his political leanings,” the complaint says. “But Defendants did more than just twist the publicly available information about Brennan; Defendants created a new identity for Mr. Gilmore out of whole cloth.”
Gilmore says within 24 hours of sharing his story with the media, defendants put up a blog post accusing him of being a member of the “deep state” and part of a “false flag” operation.
He pointed to a blog post by one of the defendants, Scott Creighton, which claimed Gilmore was a “disgruntled” former state department employee “who would delight in destabilizing Trump’s tenure even more than they already have.”
Another defendant, James Hoft, editor of the right-leaning blog Gateway Pundit, is accused of furthering the “deep state” conspiracy involving the media cover up claiming “the media knows exactly who [Gilmore] is yet played it off like a casual observer.”
In a written statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit, Gilmore said the defendants “thrive by inciting devastating real-world consequences with the propaganda and lies they publish as ‘news.’”
“Today, I’m asking a court to hold them responsible for the personal and professional damage their lies have caused me, and, more importantly, to deter them from repeating this dangerous pattern of defamation and intimidation,” Gilmore said.
Andrew Mendrala, supervising attorney of Georgetown Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, is representing Gilmore in this suit. He claimed the 1st Amendment does not protect “deliberate lies” which aim to have the public harass and attack private citizens.
“This case is a simple defense of democracy,” Mendrala said. “A well-informed public is essential to a healthy democracy. But a deliberately misinformed public is fatal to it.”
None of the defendants responded to requests for comment.
This isn’t the first time Jones has had to apologize and retract statements made on his website or YouTube channel.
In May 2017 he ended a broadcast retracting accusations he’d made about the yogurt company, Chobani LLC, including that its factory was connected to the 2016 sexual assault of a child and an increase in the prevalence of tuberculosis.
It is believed the apology was part of a settlement after the company filed a defamation suit against him just weeks prior.