Singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur continues the Los Angeles Times for libel over an article last year that called him an “anti-vaxxer”, claiming it caused him to be “shunned” and led directly to the cancellation of several concerts.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Virginia, the singer’s attorney claimed the newspaper “deliberately excluded and misrepresented Arthur’s position and falsely portrayed him as a radical anti-vaxxer, who spread misinformation and otherwise engaged in extreme behavior”.
“Los Angeles Time“False and defamatory statements endangered Arthur’s safety and harmed Arthur and his reputation,” the singer’s attorney wrote.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times declined to comment on the charges, citing ongoing litigation.
The article, published on August 10, 2021, was titled “He was a famous singer-songwriter with famous fans. Then he started publishing articles about the vaccine. An alternate title reads: ‘Joseph Arthur: Path from acclaimed artist to anti-vaxxer.’
Arthur, a critically acclaimed songwriter first discovered by Peter Gabriel and most recently known for his collaboration with REM guitarist Peter Buck, had criticized the COVID-19 vaccine as a “danger to humanity, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary,” according to the article. . The story, written by journalist Randall Roberts, describes Arthur’s professional fallout, including his band choosing to “resign en masse” and his longtime manager dropping him as a client.
Statements are only defamatory if they are false, and Arthur appears to have been openly critical of the COVID-19 vaccine. His main argument seems to be that the article falsely portrays him as opposed to all vaccines, rather than just opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.
His lawsuit included a screenshot of a text, supposedly at Los Angeles Times journalist who wrote the story, who said, “I’m not an anti vaxxer. I am against this experimental vaccine without long-term tests which harms many and which is completely ineffective against the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective.
Beyond the “anti-vaxx” label, Arthur also claims the article “misleadingly implies” that his stance on the vaccine has “cost” him professionally. He also claims that the use of an image of his newborn son “implied that Arthur was endangering his child, his family, and possibly all of society.” He called it “impermissible misrepresentation”.
Arthur also alleged that the article suggested he was “mentally unstable” and that he had made “fraudulent claims about the COVID-19 vaccine”, although the Los Angeles Times the article does not seem to say these things directly.
In addition to the defamation allegation, the lawsuit also included a “false light” invasion of privacy claim, claiming that “by labeling and stigmatizing Arthur as an ‘anti-vaxxer,’ Los Angeles Time painted Arthur in a false light that would be offensive to any reasonable person.