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Savage suit: in a test of what constitutes free speech, far-right talk show host Michael Savage is suing the Web sites that have urged major sponsors to desert his TV show.

Should controversial talk show host Michael Savage have the right to demand damage.s from people who urge his advertisers not to support him?

Savage, host of MSNBC'sSavage Nation TV program as well as a radio talk show, has earned a reputation for saying what he wants, including such incendiary rhetoric as his assertion that the "gay and lesbian Mafia wants our children." Because he's gone so far, he's been the target of a campaign spearheaded by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to contact Savage's advertisers and ask them to reconsider supporting his shows.

Now Savage is claiming that three Web sites participating in that campaign have infringed on his freedom of speech and interfered with his livelihood--and he is fighting back with a federal lawsuit. In the suit, filed in May, Talk Radio Network, the company that syndicates Savage's radio program, The Michael Savage Show, charged that Savage-Stupidity.com, MichaelSavageSucks.com, and TakeBack-TheMedia.com are causing Savage financial harm. The company is demanding $500,000 in damages and the shuttering of the sites, one of which superimposes the likeness of Savage on a photograph of a Ku Klux Klansman.

Even antigay talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the subject of an advertiser boycott, by the Web site StopDrLaura.com and other groups, never resorted to legal action, noted Cathy Renna, GLAAD's news media director. "Once she got a television show, Dr. Laura really shied away from our issues," Renna said. "Savage has continued to go after us, and now he's trying to intimidate some who would speak out about the content of his shows."

GLAAD was not named in the legal action. "We're confident that what we're doing is well within our constitutional right to free speech," Renna said. "We hope that he would respect that we are exercising our right, just as we do his."

In fact, Savage's suit could be speaking to the effectiveness of GLAAD's campaign. Every major national sponsor has withdrawn support from The Savage Nation. On June 18, after GLAAD made Orkin Pest Control aware that an ad for the company had run on the show, Orkin responded with an E-mail staling that they do not condone "the thoughts wad opinions set forth on The Savage Nation and that we have taken steps to make sure this one-time error will not occur again."
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Title Annotation:Media
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 22, 2003
Words:390
Previous Article:Rants & raves.
Next Article:Guilty, but not of hate.
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