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Saturday, April 29, 2017
WND Changes Chobani-Bashing Article Months After Publication
Topic: WorldNetDaily

Earlier this week, Chobani yogurt sued far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for promoting false claims about refugees that work for its plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. But WorldNetDaily reporter Leo Hohmann has also attacked Chobani as well over doings in Idaho. Why isn't he being sued?

The short answer: WND corrected his false attacks.

We've already noted that Snopes debunked Hohmann's unsubstantiated claim in a January 2016 WND article that the Chobani plant in Idaho "is in line to receive about 300 refugees this year, many of them Muslims from Syria. But there were other issues with that article as well.

It started with the way WND promoted it, with the headline "American yogurt tycoon vows to choke U.S. with Muslims." Numerous media outlets that documented the right-wing war against Chobani and founder Hamdi Ulukaya for encouraging refugees to work in his facilities claimed that this was the original headline on Hohmann's article. We could find no evidence of that; the article was, however, promoted in the carousel on WND's front page with that headline (an screenshot of which is above).

That's not to say the original headline on Hohmann's article -- "American yogurt billionaire: 'Hire more Muslim refugees'" with the subhead "Calls on biggest U.S. companies to join Islamic surge" -- didn't have issues. The chief one is that at no point does Hohmann quote Ulukaya saying "Hire more Muslim refugees," and he doesn't even quote Ulukaya explicitly calling for the hiring of Muslim refugees over other refugees.

Hohmann also wrote that refugees in Idaho are "sent there, many of them, to work in the world's largest yogurt factory" and that Ulukaya "has stepped up efforts to hire as many refugees as he can at his yogurt plants, where they currently account for 30 percent of the total workforce."

But sometime between March 29 and April 3, 2016, the  main headline of Hohmann's article was changed to "U.S. Yogurt billionaire asks businesses to hire more foreign refugees." And between June 7 and and June 29, other changes were made:

  • The subhead became "Calls on major American companies to 'step up and do more'."
  • Hohmann's assertion that refugees are "sent there, many of them, to work in the world's largest yogurt factory" was changed to "Many of them end up working in the worlds largest yogurt factory."
  • HOhmann's assertion that Ulukaya "has stepped up efforts to hire as many refugees as he can at his yogurt plants, where they currently account for 30 percent of the total workforce" was changed to read "Currently refugees account for about 30 percent of the total workforce at Ulukayas yogurt plants."
  • The article also gained an "editor's note" stating that "This story has been updated since the original posting to clarify certain parts."

WND didn't tell its reader that these updates were made six months after Hohmann's article was first published. And, thus, there's no mention at all of the only logical reason why one would even bother making such significant updates to an article six months after publication: WND heard from Chobani's lawyers.

Hohmann's and WND's walkback seems to have saved WND from a lawsuit from Chobani. It also apparently made WND much more sensitive about pushing dubious claims about Chobani and refugees. A June, 30, 2016, article by Hohmann now states: "Editor’s note: Originally this story indicated Chobani was going to increase hiring of refugees above the already high 30-percent level, based on a report by Bloomberg News.  Bloomberg later scrubbed all references to additional Chobani hiring of refugees."

Unfortunately, a lawsuit threat is usually the only way to get WND to correct a false or malicious story on its website.But Chobani knows that and -- good for them -- is not afraid to go there. Now if only WND were capable of being more honest about having to make those corrections...

Posted by Terry K. at 1:28 AM EDT

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