Melaleuca and its CEO, Frank VanderSloot, have filed a defamation action against The Foundation for National Progress, which owns Mother Jones news magazine.
In a news release, Melaleuca said the move comes because the magazine “engaged in a malicious and reckless effort to damage VanderSloot’s reputation as a private citizen, businessman, philanthropist, and entrepreneur through the publication and promotion of several defamatory falsehoods” in early 2012 because VanderSloot had made a “sizable donation” to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.
Two Mother Jones employees, Monika Bauerlein and Stephanie Mencimer, are also named in the lawsuit.
“By ignoring repeated requests for a meaningful retraction or correction of the misinformation, the defendants proved their intent to distort the public record, to undermine public confidence in Melaleuca, and to create economic harm for VanderSloot, as well as to Melaleuca, its employees and its independent marketing executives,” according to the Melaleuca news release. “Failure to correct the falsehoods originated by the defendants have caused them to be repeated by countless other organizations, publications and blogs.”
An online story about VanderSloot published in February 2012 on Mother Jones' site, at http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mitt-romney-melaleuca-frank-vandersloot, lists three corrections and one update.
VanderSloot said the lawsuit, which was filed in Idaho's 7th Judicial District on Tuesday, is not about the money.
“I support freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but regardless of their political leanings, publications have the responsibility to base their commentary in fact, not fabrication,” VanderSloot said. “The press has no right to publish falsehoods about people they seek to destroy just because they disagree with them. In the complaint, we've limited the damages we are seeking because this suit is not about money. We’re asking the justice system to correct the false public record, and to hold the press accountable for their falsehoods and to help spare future citizens from this sort of intentional, malicious harm.”
VanderSloot has had a rocky relationship with the national media in the past, gaining national attention last year when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said the CEO "has taken a very aggressive stance toward anyone reporting on his public involvements." Salon.com has made similar accusations.
We'll have more details on this story tonight at 9 on KIDK Eyewitness News and 10 on Local News 8.