Abused former employees of far-right propaganda website InfoWars, run by CEO Alex Jones, have finally decided to speak out and expose pay discrimination, workplace harassment and the viciously anti-Semitic environment inside the company.
Former InfoWars on-air talent Ashley Beckford is an African-American woman whose “Me Too” story was just filed with the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (embedded below) detailing a scheme used to pay her a fraction of the pay of their other reporters. Beckford’s complaint depicts a workplace where very open sexual advances from the CEO were the norm, where she was called “coon” in the office and how casual gun use transformed the InfoWars “newsroom” into an armed camp.
But today Ashley Beckford told the rest of her terrifying “Me Too” story to Washington Press exclusively, and we also spoke with the InfoWars CEO’s former wife Kelly Jones for background on Jones’ bizarre behavior in a separate phone call.
“I don’t know if I said it in my complaint, but my opinion of Alex Jones after meeting him is that he’s a sociopath,” said Beckford of her former boss. “It appears to me that he’s abusive in every aspect of his life. I’ve also listened to his wife’s stories, and I’ve experienced it as his employee.”
“The #MeToo movement inspired my client, Ms. Beckford, to come forward,” says Beckford’s lawyer Ben Mieselas at the Geragos Law Firm in Los Angeles.
The Daily Mail filed a report detailing co-worker Rob Jacobson and her complaints to which InfoWars’ Head of Human Resource – the CEO’s father, Dr. David Jones – replied in Trumpian fashion that the “newsroom” is a “locker room environment.” Beckford responded:
“It was really telling that David Jones said ‘InfoWars is like a damn locker room’ and that is the problem, that there’s no professionalism and no integrity there. When I went there, I expected a journalistic organization with fact-checking. I thought it was real news and it turned out to be the embodiment of fake news.”
“I felt terrible every day. It was a depressing atmosphere, a sexually offensive work environment. I was so intimidated by my co-workers walking around with pistols on their hips, because I felt like I was in a cult, or that I could die working there.”
“There are videos of Alex pointing a gun in his studio and I’m on the other side of the studio watching it live, like ‘why is my boss pointing a gun in my direction?'”
Asked why she didn’t quit sooner, Beckford was straight to the point.
“Of course, I thought of quitting, but the problem is that this is my job, where I’m getting my income from, and I’m thinking that maybe things will get better. I was there from June 2016-April 2017.”
Not long after Ashley Beckford’s departure, lawyers for InfoWars CEO and primary on-air face Alex Jones told a Texas family court that the company does not create “news,” but is rather an entertainment company.
Jones’ ex-wife Kelly explained that InfoWars’ propaganda machine responds to her ex-husband’s leadership by fostering a sick culture of silence among the abused in his “newsroom.” But Kelly Jones didn’t equivocate about what she sees as the coming storm:
“I’m just waiting for the rest of the people to come forward now that Rob and Ashley have come forward. He’s got a pretty heavy NDA and uses coercion tactics. I think there are countless people that would say under oath that he’s broken a lot of property in the office. He’s just a violent guy. Rob’s situation involves retaliatory threats.”
“I’m hoping that the courage that Rob and Ashley showed will cause others to come forward.”
“It’s a problem of Weinsteinian proportions.”
Ashley Beckford’s words came steadily and forthrightly as she explained how her promising career in the news journalism industry led her through successive collegiate jobs to eventually become an on-air talent at InfoWars.
The EEOC complaint is lengthy but doesn’t tell the entire story of Jones or Ashley Beckford’s journey through the looking glass of a propaganda organization.
Beckford became a fan of Alex Jones through his appearances on RT, the television station formerly known as Russia Today, which has since registered as a foreign agent of Putin’s government at the demand of America’s Department of Justice. Beckford said:
“I’ve always been interested in journalism, and formerly worked as an undergrad intern at the Voice of America, and at the Associated Press as a grad student, on the business side.
I first heard about Alex Jones on RT and bought into his whole idea of protecting the people from portions of our government that doesn’t have our best interests in minds.”
“He was a constitutionalist in favor of the Republic who wanted to protect people’s freedoms. That’s why I initially trusted him.”
“I met the InfoWars news director Rob Dew while working at an Austin world-music venue where I worked as the social media and marketing manager. I said that I may vote for Trump and was an Alex Jones listener for 5 years. He offered me a job as a production assistant.”
From the start of her employment just before the 2016 Republican National Convention, Beckford’s bosses at InfoWars deployed her as a public-facing member of their team.
She was the only African-American female to her knowledge, ever employed in the InfoWars production apartment.
“Alex Jones is racist. He’s 100% racist.” Kelly Jones doesn’t equivocate about her husband, even slightly. “But he had the gall to tell the Daily Mail that my [Jewish] heritage changes that; he can’t use my name to deny his racism. He’s a professional gaslighter, too.”
When Beckford went to work, she was actually surprised to be in front of the cameras during the polarized 2016 election, saying:
“Almost immediately, I was pressured into going on camera and making live and recorded reports. I appeared in roughly 50 videos and appeared on the InfoWars “Nightly News” program in numerous drop-ins.”
“But they kept me paid at the salary level of a production assistant, while I worked as a reporter for them. They even wanted me to work nights and weekends without additional pay. I was working 50 hours a week on a flat salary.”
“Alex Jones would declare it a “MoneyBomb” week where he would do a fundraiser where the nightly news staff would work 12-16 hour shifts. You had to “volunteer” for those shifts or you would be fired, occasionally, you could get a bonus.”
“The law looks at the job that you’re performing, not the job title. This sounds like a bait and switch.” That’s what labor lawyer Lowell Kuvin, Esq. explained after hearing the Beckford’s scenario.
Kuvin’s an expert in EEOC complaints, and recently won a landmark pro-LGBT federal court decision that made anti-gay job bias illegal forever. “The other similarly situated persons along with their job titles to make a comparison about her pay with others. They take education and experience into account.”
Beckford says she was coerced into performing those tasks, or she’d lose her job, and told to “keep her head down” to stay employed by InfoWars.
“This sounds like a case of quid pro quo racial discrimination,” according to Kuvin, “these are most often associated with sexual harassment cases.”
Indeed, Ashley Beckford experienced sexual harassment, such as a public fondling by Alex Jones after her InfoWars job exposed her to public approbation. Her complaint to the EEOC describes the harassment in front of her bosses in graphic detail:
“He attacked me in our marriage. In the Victorian age they thought of that as wifely duties, but if someone’s attacking you, he’s attacking you,” says Kelly Jones about her ex-husband’s volatile, quintessentially borderline personality. “He’s a frightening guy.”
Ashley Beckford’s rough run at InfoWars began coming to an end soon after she asked for a raise from $30,000 to $45,000 which was commensurate with what other similar news journalists in Austin, Texas or their “newsroom” might earn.
But it wasn’t just her demands for equal pay that set off alarms at InfoWars; it was her open disagreement with Alex Jones’ 180 degrees turn from libertarian, purported defender of American freedom into a propaganda machine dedicated to boot licking, Trump coddling, authoritarian aggrandizing. Beckford said:
“When Trump started bombing Syria, I thought they’d maybe wake up and be the opposition.”
“That’s really what InfoWars was known for, being the opposition. And they didn’t.”
“We’re libertarians, we’re not partisan.” That was right before I was fired in retaliation for asking for more money, but they used “write-ups” as a pretext or excuse.
“They only care about Trump, and not even the Republican Party, just the Trump party. It was shocking to me. They were for the truth and for reality, and it just doesn’t seem like they are today.”
The “locker room” inside InfoWars produced a vile body of propaganda, one not soon to be forgotten in the annals of history of American media; from #pizzagate to Jade 15 to the defamatory statements Jones made about Chobani Yogurt, which led to a court settlement and complete retraction last year.
“Alex thinks he’s made of Teflon, but the snowball is growing. The more that Alex Jones threatens me and uses me to cover up for him, the louder my voice becomes,” says Jones’ ex-wife. “I don’t want my kids to grow up in the racist, white supremacist world he wants to create. It’s frightening, and he’s deteriorating in front of everyone’s eyes. I’m not scared of him.”
Hours after my discussion with Kelly Jones, Alex Jones go on would broadcast another anti-Semitic statement on his national broadcast about his current wife.
Today, Ashley Beckford has gone back to school for nursing and is out of the journalism field, which her EEOC complaint attributes to the reputational damage done by her stint at InfoWars.
Ultimately, Beckford told me that she came forward for reasons of public interest and conscience that travel well beyond the monetary, emotional or career damages from her eleven-month term of employment inside InfoWars.
I’ve seen how ordinary people who listen to InfoWars are being abused because they’re believing lies and buying garbage supplements and that’s abuse.
I don’t want other people to be had and to keep spending their money.
It’s an awful place know you’ve got to wake up and go to, and to listen to all these lies while I know they’re not trying to tell the truth, and I had to put up with constant sexual harassment on top of that, so it was tough.
Her attorney at the Geragos firm released this public statement after the Daily Mail story came out:
The only thing worse than the propaganda and naked racism that InfoWars and Alex Jones belches and calls "entertainment," is the way that he treats his employees. #metoo
— Ben Meiselas (@meiselasb) March 1, 2018
InfoWars CEO Alex Jones denied everything to the Daily Mail about the pair of sworn complaints to the EEOC filed by both Ashley Beckford, and the anti-Semitic harassment described in minute detail by Jones’ former longtime producer Rob Jacobson.
But it would be difficult to ascribe anything credible to Alex Jones’ statements which are generally fictitious in the guise of entertainment.
A lawyer for Free Speech Systems, LLC, the corporate parent of InfoWars, assured the Mail that they’d investigate the complaints and the complainants, but were verbally dismissive in responding about the topic of the complaints.
InfoWars turned Alex Jones into a multi-millionaire, but it is a media empire built upon years of salesmanship, his relationship with propaganda outlet Russia Today and ultimately, lies.
But his Human Resources Manager and own father used the same bogus blanket excuse to describe his “newsroom” – it’s a “locker room” – that President Trump gave about grabbing pussy to describe his son InfoWars and their racist office culture of sexual harassment and employment discrimination.
“It’s clear from the complaints that the conduct at InfoWars was pervasive and systematic,” says Beckford and Jacobson’s lawyer Ben Mieselas. “We anticipate that more disgruntled former ‘InfoWarriors’ will come forward.”
Here is a copy of Ashley Beckford’s “Me Too” complaint against InfoWars and Alex Jones: