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Mother Jones editor responds to Melaleuca defamation suit

By Caleb James
Published On: Jan 31 2013 12:12:20 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 31 2013 08:23:01 AM CST

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Idaho Falls based Melaleuca Inc. and its CEO Frank VanderSloot are suing a national news outlet for defamation.

On Wednesday night, our station has an exclusive response from Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones magazine's co-editor-in-chief.  

In a news release on Wednesday, VanderSloot accuses Mother Jones magazine, Bauerlein and writer Stephanie Mencimer of reporting false information about him after he made a $1 million contribution to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

Bauerlein said she first learned about the suit from our station’s phone call.

She said the suit stems from a February 2012 article published by the magazine. 

Over the phone from San Francisco, Bauerlein provided this timeline of events: 

On Feb. 6, 2012, Bauerlein said the original article about Melaleuca and Vandersloot appeared in Mother Jones. 

Shortly after, the article was taken off the magazine's website after VanderSloot and Melaleuca brought forward concerns about accuracy. 

Ten days later, Feb. 16, Bauerlein said Mother Jones printed three corrections to the original article. 

In September 2012, said Bauerlein, Mother Jones editors met face-to-face with VanderSloot.

She said there was follow-up conversation, but in October 2012, conversation between Melaleuca and Mother Jones ended. 

She said she had not received official notification of the defamation lawsuit before speaking to our station. 

"It's a surprise,” said Baurlein. “I certainly wish we could have communicated more than find out in this manner."  

Baurlein said the magazine stood by its reporting.

“We feel very comfortable with our reporting,” said Baurlein. “Mother Jones has a long and solid track record of journalistic excellence."

Our station reached out to Melaleuca and VanderSloot through his spokesman Tony Lima on Wednesday afternoon.

Lima said he is working on arranging an interview with VanderSloot for later this week. 

Further reporting on the initial Melaleuca press release detailing the filing of the defamation suit is under the “Related Content” portion of this story or at http://goo.gl/RZvIm.

The Mother Jones story at the center of the lawsuit can be found, here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mitt-romney-melaleuca-frank-vandersloot

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