Following yet another report by BuzzFeed alleging past misconduct against the famous self-help guru, Tony Robbins has taken legal action against the outlet for its “malicious campaign” against him.
After Robbins publicly criticized the #MeToo movement, BuzzFeed began to publish a series of pieces containing various accusations against the inspirational speaker, including that he “berated victims of rape and domestic violence” and that “former staffers and fans have accused him of groping audience members, exposing himself to women assistants, and sexually harassing fans.” One report featured a video from the 1980s of Robbins telling an audience about how he used the “N-word” in order to make a point.
In the sixth of the outlet’s anti-Robbins series, BuzzFeed reported last week on another claim from the ’80s: that in 1985, Robbins, then 25, asked a female camper who was under 18 to go on a walk with him and then “forced himself upon her — kissing her and groping her breasts in a prolonged sexual assault.”
As reported by Fox News, after threatening legal action last week, Robbins has now officially filed a legal summons against the outlet, a filing he submitted in Ireland on Tuesday.
“The Plenary Summons, obtained by Fox News, seeks damages for ‘defamation, malicious falsehood, misrepresentation, breach of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress’ from a series of negative reports about Robbins,” Fox reports.
In response to BuzzFeed’s sixth investigative report on him, Robbins’ lawyers said that a “situation” at the camp did indeed occur in 1985, but that it was fully addressed at the time and is ultimately a “non-issue.” The claim was “addressed with the camp attendees, the young woman, and her parents, and no one suggested that there was a sexual assault,” said Robbins’ lawyers.
“No sexual assault happened. Period,” his attorneys underscored.
In a statement to Fox News, Robbins’ lawyers accused BuzzFeed of “undermining our client’s hard-earned international reputation” and subjecting him “to a persistent attack on his character over the course of a number of articles.”
In response to Robbins taking legal action, BuzzFeed said in a statement to Fox News that they “stand by” their reporting “unequivocally” and suggested that Robbins’ decision to file the summons in Ireland was an “abuse” of the Irish court.
“We learned today that Tony Robbins has started legal proceedings against BuzzFeed in Ireland, following a series of reports on allegations of inappropriate sexual advances, verbal abuse and, most recently, an alleged sexual assault of a teen. This reporting is based on hundreds of interviews, audio recordings, and documentary evidence, and we stand by it unequivocally,” BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal said.
“Mr. Robbins has chosen to sue us abroad rather than address the detailed account of the woman who said he attacked her; the two women who say they saw it happen; and the accounts of dozens of others,” he added. “The fact that he doesn’t even seek to address these claims, choosing instead to abuse the Irish court system and attack BuzzFeed, speaks for itself.”
Robbins has slammed BuzzFeed publicly a few times, including in a post on Medium published last week in response to the outlet’s sixth hit-piece on him (excerpt below):
Far from the watchdogs they once were, too many members of today’s tabloid and entertainment media ignore traditional journalistic ethics, values and standards. Too often, in the hyper-competitive, celebrity-driven and political charged environment that currently exists, they fail to verify facts and vet sources, and are permitted to present predetermined stories supporting an agenda or outcome they believe will sow the most outrage and engagement with their target audiences whether true or not.
For this reason, I am now suing BuzzFeed following a premeditated and malicious campaign against me and my life’s work.
In a series of articles this year, BuzzFeed falsely accused me of abusing my position and making inappropriate advances toward employees and event attendees as well as berating abuse victims at my seminars. Those stories were filled with falsehoods and many people actively spoke out against BuzzFeed in the immediate aftermath. For example, BuzzFeed inaccurately labeled two of their sources as “victims” when the truth is both came forward publicly to say they were not “victims” and refuted BuzzFeed’s false reporting. Further, more than two dozen witnesses issued sworn statements disputing the accuracy of BuzzFeed’s reporting and others have expressed serious concerns about the Buzzfeed reporters’ conduct during interviews.
In its first article, BuzzFeed cited an account of a former personal assistant, Ms. Rittase. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Rittase publicly repudiated the story:
“The only accurate part of what BuzzFeed said about me in their article about Tony Robbins is that Tony’s work truly impacted me and my family for the better. His work was transformational for our relationship and our life. BuzzFeed told me they wanted to talk to me so I could provide balance to their story as a positive perspective and then they twisted my words in a negative way. My interactions with Tony were always respectful, professional and appropriate.”
The same BuzzFeed article stated that “Robbins has unleashed expletive-laden tirades on survivors of rape and domestic violence” and then proceeded to selectively string together pieces of an intervention between myself and an event attendee to create a narrative untethered to facts and reality. When the woman involved in this intervention read the article, she was stunned by the gross distortion between what she read and her real-life experience. She set the record straight when she posted a video on her YouTube channel vehemently refuting BuzzFeed’s reports as false and completely inaccurate. She courageously shared how the life-changing experience at the event positively impacted her life, stating:
“BuzzFeed just basically continues to try to use pieces of the intervention out of context to make their point — the point that they want to make regardless of my experience.” So enraged by BuzzFeed’s complete disregard for the truth, this woman filed a lawsuit implicating BuzzFeed and one of its sources for destructive conduct and a violation of her privacy rights.
But, BuzzFeed didn’t stop there. They reloaded their drivel gun and tried again.
They published a subsequent article alleging that I “Punish Followers by Making Them Drink Unidentified Brown Liquid.” My team responded to this ridiculous claim and shared the recipe and a video of what actually occurs. Unsurprisingly, Buzzfeed did not acknowledge key facts we shared since that would have ruined their narrative that I was somehow doing something injurious to my attendees.
It is no wonder that the Pew Research Center cites Buzzfeed as “the least trusted news source,” dead last in a field of 36 media outlets.
Today, BuzzFeed published another article riddled with falsehoods, concerning an alleged incident from 1985, 34 years ago when I was 25 years old. (I turn 60 in just a few months).
Throughout BuzzFeed’s campaign against me, numerous people have called in reports of being harassed and pressured by Buzzfeed reporters and being asked to confirm false and inaccurate stories about me. In the lead up to the latest story, a caller specifically said that a BuzzFeed reporter shared a version of a story with him and asked him to confirm the details she shared. He called us because he felt she had an agenda, was driving a preconceived narrative and trying to manipulate him into confirming the story she told him. Instead of asking him questions about what he believed to be true, the reporter repeatedly asked him to confirm accounts of her version of the story, even though he was not directly involved.