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AlterNet Takes on Shock Jock Michael Savage and Gets Threatened With a Lawsuit

When we helped publicize the link between bilious talk show host Michael Savage and Rockstar energy drink, we got a letter from their lawyers.

Michael Savage, right-wing crusader against gays, immigrants, Muslims, Barack Obama, Britain, women, (and possibly puppies), may have found a new object for his wrath: groups that have the temerity to publicize the vicious talk-show host’s connection to Rockstar energy drink -- and to call for a boycott by consumers opposed to Savage's hatemongering.

As part of AlterNet's 10 Hottest Campaigns section, we published a piece alerting readers to a boycott against the Rockstar products. The campaign, launched by Charles C.C. Tsai on Facebook, brought attention to the connection between Savage and the energy drink company. Tsai's page pointed out that Savage's son, Russell Weiner, is the founder and CEO of Rockstar. Savage's wife serves as director of energy drink company, and Savage Productions shares an address with Rockstar(!). 

On May 27, the same day the piece was published, Rockstar’s lawyers sent AlterNet a letter accusing us of defamation. The letter read, in part:

Mr. Savage is not affiliated with Rockstar in any manner.’s use of the article to tie Rockstar to Mr. Savage’s statements is wholly improper. Not only does it place Rockstar in a false light, but it constitutes defamation, both of which are objectional.

The offices of Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro, also demanded an "immediate public retraction of these statements and an apology in substantially as conspicuous a matter on as the defamatory statements were published."

So, we "apologized," sort of. Here’s what we said:

Lawyers from Rockstar have written AlterNet threatening to sue us because they claim that Michael Savage (aka Weiner) is not a "co-founder" of the Rockstar drink company, as was described in our item, but rather his son, Russell Weiner, is the CEO and principle shareholder, and that Savage has never been an officer, director, employee or shareholder, of the company. AlterNet does not have any specific knowledge of family discussions, meetings, etc., that led to the formation of the company to be able to prove that he was a "co-founder."

Nevertheless, a dictionary definition of "co-founder" offers: "to establish or found in concert with another or others." Thus, it would require, perhaps, for Savage and his son to deny they ever spoke about the founding of the company in order for Savage to be unqualified as a founder. The definition of co-founder doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with ownership, shareholding, etc.

That being said, in the absence of proof of the inner workings of the Weiner family, we retract the comment that Michael Savage was a "co-founder" of the beverage company and offer apologies, if somehow that characterization casts aspersions on any members of the Weiner family, or Savage himself.

Others have also been compelled to write retractions and say “I'm sorry." Gaywired, which published a story about, issued this statement.

Meanwhile, Tsai and his Facebook group fared far worse after taking on Rockstar and Savage:

"I made a group to let others know and be able to make a similar choice if they wanted; the group was formed, and it quickly grew to over 12,000 members." Tsai, says in a statement. “In it, we put together a list of quotations from Michael Savage Weiner, as well as his son, that we strongly did not agree with."

Tsai continues:

We also put commonly known information, such as the fact that they co-founded the extremely conservative Paul Revere society, which openly calls for actions such as “eliminate bilingual education in all states" and "traditional marriage." More easily proven information was included as well.

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