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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Michael Savage's Other Frivolous Lawsuit
(Updated below because of another potential frivolous lawsuit)
Radio talk show host Michael Savage (née Wiener), along with the sectarian right group The Thomas More Law Center, filed a lawsuit against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder over the report put out by the DHS regarding tight-wing extremism. The lawsuit is clearly frivolous (here's a short blog post on why it has no merit).

This isn't' Savage's first frivolous lawsuit. Years ago, Savage and David Horowitz filed a frivolous lawsuit against the University of California Board of Regents because they didn't hire Savage for an academic position he was clearly unqualified to fill. I wrote about the frivolous suit in 2003 for the blog HorowitzWatch. Unfortunately, the blog is defunct but below is the post (I made a few changes for clarity and dead links):
The David Horowitz/Michael Savage Connection
The more I read about Michael Savage and the way his demented ideas are being applauded by people ostensibly in the mainstream, the more I feel like the teacher in the film Fast Times At Ridgemont High (portrayed by the late Ray Walston) who by the end of the film was convinced that everyone is on drugs. When Savage appeared on Hannity & Colmes on Monday [January 6, 2003], Hannity endorsed Savage’s best-selling book Savage Nation and called it a good read. I have been critiquing Savage Nation and I found out the Savage and David Horowitz were involved in one of the most frivolous lawsuits in California history—which is odd because trial lawyers are one of Savage’s biggest scapegoats.

Here’s what happened. In 1996, Savage applied for the position of dean at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. I’m sure that the hiring committee had a good horselaugh reading Savage’s vita. True, Savage has a Ph.D. but it is in epidemiology and nutrition science. Horowitz pointed out how Savage had written 17 books, but they are mostly books on herbs and questionable healing methods such as homeopathy. His job at the time—his current job—was incoherent radio talk show (click here for a recent example). Had Savage been chosen to head the journalism school, it would have been the laughing stock of academia.

Instead, the person chosen for the job was Orville Schell, a distinguished scholar and journalist. Schell has been honored with writing fellowships from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Additionally, he has received awards from the Overseas Press Club of America for best article on a foreign subject and the Page One Award for the best investigative story. In addition, Schell has contributed to magazines such as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Tricycle, The Atlantic, The Nation, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, Granta, and The China Quarterly.

On his radio show, Savage claimed that he was snubbed because he was white (Schell is also white) and proceeded to sue the UC at Berkeley regents and the head of the search committee, Troy Duster (Savage sued through one of Horowitz’s Scaife-funded front groups). Horowitz called the lawsuit “a small but meaningful step toward the restoration of democracy and institutional integrity to the nation's university culture.” The lawsuit was quickly dropped. I couldn’t find out how much the University of California system spent defending itself against this frivolous suit.
Addendum: I recently wrote about how the more Americans learn about the whackos in right-wing talk radio, the more likely GOP to be a minority party for the foreseeable future. In the post, I wrote about how the 3:00 PM EST time slot has a ratings war between two completely unhinged right-wing competitors: Savage and Mark Levin. For those who are unfamiliar with Savage's looniness, that post, along with this post that I linked to in my critique of Savage's Berkeley lawsuit as well as my critique of Savage's book Savage Nation serve as a good introduction into the fringe nature of Savage's outlook. . . Frivolous lawsuits are nothing new to the Thomas More Law Center. Previously, the group was involved in a suit to put the teaching of intelligent design in the public schools as an alternative scientific theory.

5/7/09 UPDATE: Savage says that he is planning to sue British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith because Savage is on a list of people banned from Great Britian for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred.

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