American singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times, over an article the newspaper published in August 2021 that Arthur claims falsely depicts him as a “radical anti-vaxxer”.
The suit, which is asking for an estimated $25million (£20.6million) in damages, was filed last Wednesday (August 10) on grounds of defamation. The article in question was published August 2021 and bears the headline “He was a celebrated singer-songwriter with famous fans. Then he started posting about the vaccine.
Per Rolling Stone, representatives for Arthur are claiming that in its article, the Times has “falsely portrayed him as a radical anti-vaxxer” that has “spread disinformation and otherwise engaged in extreme behavior”.
The suit also reportedly includes a text message exchange that took place between Arthur and an unnamed Los Angeles Times writer, in which the musician explained that he was not opposed to vaccines in general. Rather, he was specifically opposed to the COVID-19 vaccines, which he described as an “experimental shot with no long term tests that is harming many and completely ineffective against the spread of the virus”.
Furthermore, the suit claims that Arthur’s misrepresentation goes even further, adding that by using a photo of Arthur holding his daughter in the article, the Times seemingly implied that Arthur’s stance on the COVID-19 vaccines “was endangering his child [and] his family” – and, by extension, “all of society”.
The suit additionally argues that Arthur “has not made fraudulent statements” regarding the vaccines on his social media – although, as noted by Rolling Stone, several of his Instagram posts have been tagged by its fact-checking feature as containing false information.
Rolling Stone reports that a representative for the Los Angeles Times declined comment, citing pending litigation.
Despite releasing music since the mid-’90s, Arthur has in recent years become more known for his opinions on the COVID-19 vaccine. On social media, he’s said that the US President’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “should go to prison” over his role in the vaccine’s rollout. Arthur has also called the pandemic “a well-orchestrated plan” and has compared discourse between pro- and anti-vaccination groups to “what Nazis did with the Jews”.
Arthur’s comments saw his manager, his booking agent and his record label all disassociate with him. A second album by Arthur Buck – his duo with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck – was also shelved.