Bil Browning

Rockstar energy drink threatens Bilerico Project with lawsuit

Filed By Bil Browning | June 10, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Janet Weiner, Michael Savage, Paul Revere Society, Rockstar Energy Drink, Russell Weiner

UPDATE: Over the course of the last few weeks, Bilerico Project and Change.org have worked closely with Rockstar Energy Drink to take concrete steps on addressing LGBT rights. We are pleased to announce though these discussions a bold agreement was reached between Rockstar and several LGBT rights organizations. This agreement resulted in significant changes to Rockstar Energy Drink's corporate practices to reflect LGBT-friendly policies, and also saw more than $100,000 distributed to four LGBT organizations through a multi-year, systemic gift. More details here. -Bil

In April, guest blogger Michael Jones reported on Rockstar energy drink's connections with well-known homophobic radio host Michael Savage (real name: Michael Weiner). rockstar.jpgAbout a week ago, Rockstar's lawyers came calling and threatened legal action if we didn't immediately remove the offending post for "factual inaccuracies." The beverage company took issue with two sentences from our guest blogger's post. It claims they are untrue and should cause the post to be removed from the archives.

Rockstar threatened several other bloggers and Facebook users with legal action - including Michael for his crosspost on change.org. The company's legal team also contacted alternet.com, wiqaable.com, gaywired.com, and gaysocialites.com.

Facebook closed the groups Rockstar complained about and, in some cases, deleted the user's account entirely. Change.org and other bloggers have removed their posts to avoid litigation. Our Terms of Service gives us the copyright for the version of Michael's post we published. We have offered Rockstar's lawyers a correction to the post, but we've refused to remove it. The guest post is currently the most popular article on the site.

Details on the company's legal threats and the truth about Rockstar after the jump.

Why Does Rockstar Want to Sue Bilerico Project?

Rockstar's lawyer complained to me that Michael's article contained two inaccurate sentences and that the gist of the article was "Michael Savage is a filthy creep and he has deep connections with Rockstar energy drink." While the attorney made it perfectly clear he agreed Savage was a disgusting pig, it was unfair to the company to link Rockstar with Savage just because Michael Savage's son, Russell Weiner, is the current CEO of RockStar.

The two sentences they specifically disputed are:

It [Rockstar Energy Drink] was co-founded by conservative radio host Michael Savage.

SavageFacebookGroup.jpgand

Michael Savage is reaping profits from the selling of Rockstar Energy Drink.

According to Rockstar's attorney, Savage only advised his son on the drink and not the company. They dispute that Savage directly profits from sales of the energy drink as well. Michael Savage's Facebook group now contains this disclaimer: "(in no way affiliated with ROCKSTAR* ENERGY DRINK, the world's most POWERFUL energy drink!)"

SavageFacebookGroup2.jpg

Who's Rockstar Energy Drinks' Daddy?

When he's not saying that transgender people are "freaks" who are "begging" to be the victims of violence, that lesbians are the equivalent of Nazis who make him "reach" for his "glock" when he sees them (especially if they're butch), that the "homosexual mafia" is "raping" children's minds, that gay men should "get AIDS and die," or advocating the mass murder of Muslim people, Michael Savage is one of "the leading herbalists in the world." Rockstar's website used to tout Savage's skills on their information about the company page.

"I was very fortunate to have been raised by two of the leading herbalists in the world, Dr. and Mrs. Michael Weiner, Ph.D. ... From my earliest walking days, I remember exploring the jungles of the South Pacific on expeditions with my parents. ... My family has taken that spirit and experience - their lifetime journey - and developed the most complete, most unique, most powerful, and most honest energy beverage ever created: RockStar." - CEO Russell Goldencloud Weiner

Savage denied co-founding either the drink or the beverage to the San Francisco Chronicle in May 2009. After San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom's gubernatorial campaign returned a $25,000 donation by Weiner, Savage told the paper, "I had nothing to do with the founding or creation of Rockstar."

Weiner also says that the old promo copy notwithstanding, there's no connection either. He told the Chronicle that he'd started the company "with $50,000 of my own money. It has nothing to do with my dad. He's not an officer...he's not the founder or the creator."

Russell Weiner shares his father's political views. When introducing Savage at a concert, young Weiner shouted: "Who's heterosexual and proud? [...] If you're not, hopefully you will be soon!" He then referred to Michael Savage as "our leader." The apple doesn't fall far from the tree; together they co-founded the extremely conservative organization, the Paul Revere Society.

If you go to the Rockstar website, the page with CEO Weiner's compliments for the "leading herbalists" is gone. If you try to look at an archived version, you get the following message: "We're sorry, but access to http://web.archive.org/web/20021211144041/ www.rockstar69.com/new/rockstar.html has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt"

Blocked!.jpg

Does Michael Savage Make Money From Rockstar Energy Drinks?

While it's unclear whether he's making royalties off his recipe, Savage doesn't have an official role with the company. He doesn't draw a regular paycheck from the beverage maker.

Savage's wife Janet Weiner, however, brings home what I can only imagine is a hefty paycheck as the company's listed director, treasurer and secretary. She is also listed in Nevada state filings as the director, treasurer and secretary of Michael Savage's entertainment company, Savage Productions. According to the Nevada Secretary of State, both Rockstar Energy Drinks and Savage Productions are registered at the same street address and mailbox. Janet Weiner is the only other listed officer other than CEO Russell Weiner.

Janet herself hasn't been free from controversy, either. She famously yelled with her husband that San Francisco was "this filthy, drug- ridden vermin city."

Does Michael Savage directly profit from the sale of Rockstar energy drinks? His lawyers insist that he doesn't. Does his household profit from the sale of Rockstar energy drinks? Unless his wife is working for free, he and his wife keep separate bank accounts and finances, or she gives her wages to charity, there's income flowing back into the Michael and Janet Weiner household.

Why Threatening Bloggers Is a Bad Idea

When Rockstar's lawyer gave me a jingle, I was polite but firm. I told him under no circumstances would we be willing to remove the post. The Editorial Team had a meeting and, like the New York Times does for corrections, we're willing to put up a correction/update on the post to clarify the two sentences they dispute.

The attorney wasn't happy with that result and accused me of not being apologetic enough. He also said I was holding up a successful resolution of their threat to sue Michael Jones. As I explained to him, we own the copyright to the article now and not Michael Jones. It's our decision and he can't force us to remove the post either. Holding him hostage for our decision is not only cowardly, but won't fly legally.

Instead they've ticked me off enough that I'm willing to detail what they've done to Bilerico Project and other bloggers and Facebook users. I'm not the only one telling the tale either.

The Wikipedia entries for both Michael Savage and Rockstar Energy Drink have now been updated to include the story of Rockstar vs Internet. One goes so far as to suggest that the unintended consequences of Rockstar's intimidation tactic will be the Streisand Effect - the more you try to suppress something online, the bigger the chance it will go viral as more and more people want to see the forbidden fruit.

To bastardize an old saying about attacking a newspaper reporter, you don't pick a fight with a guy who buys digital ink by the gigabyte.

Instead of doing the right thing - distancing themselves publicly from Savage's statements and highlighting inclusive steps they've taken to ensure their employees and customers aren't discriminated against - they've chosen to go on the attack.

Because now Rockstar has the clarification they wanted from Bilerico Project. I'll update the old post to reflect the updated information with a link to this post. I hope Rockstar is happy with the result.


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Bil, I am proud of the way you and the editorial team at TBP are handling this. Keep your chin up.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | June 10, 2009 12:49 PM

Wow Bil, you are my hero :)

Bravo for having the courage to see this through.

While Savage may not directly have his hands in the daily running of Rockstar, I can't help but think that he has some indirect influence on the company. I doubt that his wife doesn't talk about work when she comes home at the end of the day. Also I doubt that their son doesn't talk about work when they have family dinners or gatherings. Surely it's not unreasonable to think that anything Savage says to either of them isn't at least considered.

Even if Savage's hate and bigotry isn't directly tied to the company, there's enough hate and bigotry from his son. Russell's quote of "Who's heterosexual and proud? [...] If you're not, hopefully you will be soon!" is more than enough to keep me from wanting to drink Rockstar.

Savage always tries to silence his critics through intimidation and threatening to galvanize his goon audience. Thank you for not buckling under to his despicable tactics.

Ths ACLU should help you fight this...this p***k needs a dose of reality.

Me Thinks they doth protest too much. Like you said if they would have just kept it to themselves it wouldn't become a big deal... and now, it will become a big deal. WTG Bil, I knew I followed you for a reason!

Bill Vayens | June 10, 2009 2:52 PM

Not a product I would use, but you can be sure I will make sure I let my friends know about their strong arm tactics. FAIL

I don't drink that Rockstar crap and now never will ever begin. I will be sure to make sure that anyone and everyone i know does not drink that shit either. Maybe Rockstar will attempt to sue me for not being their obeying drinking herbalist. Keep in mind Hitler was a vegetarian. I would like to thank you for supplying us with a platform to know the truth about familial connections i want no association with. They should just rename the product "Tank Up with Hate"

Wow, there's actually someone in the USA with journalistic integrity? You are the one who rocks, Bil.

mixedqueer mixedqueer | June 10, 2009 4:51 PM

Way to kick ass as editor bil! i'm gonna link this article on my blog and fb.

WHY WOULD A SELF RESPECTING GAY OR LIBERAL PERSON DRINK THIS SHIT?

I'm actually kinda pissed off that change.org and facebook removed the articles and the groups. Rockstar has nothing and they're bluffing trying to intimidate people into doing what they say, and that's it. I would think that an advocacy group like change.org or an internet behemoth like facebook would understand that and have an easier time standing up to them. Apparently not.

Good for you for standing your ground. A less scrupulous editor would have immediately yanked the piece.

Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro, LLP

What I really find hilarious about all this, is on LegalZoom.com, co-founded by Robert Sharpiro of law firm of Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro, LLP, the firm that sent me my C&D letter after getting Mayor Newsom to give back Russell Weiner's $25K....is the following statement: (see below)

"He did so with the help of his father Michael Weiner, who is better known as conservative talk show host Michael Savage. Savage also helps with the drink company along with wife Janet Weiner, who is her son's CFO. Many groups have refused to do business with Weiner and Rock Star because of the connection to Michael Savage. Both on his radio show and on his television program, Savage made comments about homosexuality and transgendered issues that were considered offensive. His views on immigration and civil rights have also caused controversy."

http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-articles/The-Story-behind-Rock-Star.html

I didn't buy Rockstar before, I won't buy it ever and I will spread the word.

Lynn David Lynn David | June 10, 2009 10:36 PM

You nailed it, Bil....

i recommend that you save a screenshot of that...

Yo E Rocks! | June 11, 2009 2:06 AM

I have to thank Rockstar's legal team for pushing this subject - I had previously been a regular drinker of the sugar-free Rockstar, but no more!

I've also joined the Facebook group and posted a link to this on my FaceBook page, and will twitter it in the AM. Which is a ton more than I ever did to advertise Rockstar when I drank it.

Have you pushed this to the major blogs like feministing, Kos, and C&L?

Base upon marriage laws, doesn't Michael Savage inherit something in the event of Janet Weiner's death? This means that Michael Savage would profit, but indirectly from the sale of Rockstar.

I used to drink this poison all the time (one can a day) for at least a year. I started to develop bouts of stomach pains where I would literally be doubled over and incapacitated. I went to the doctor but they could find nothing. This happened at least three times over the course of many months. I finally realized it was the RockStar doing this to me. I stopped drinking that spew cold and I've never had the stomach ailments again.

RockStar is garbage in a can. Not surprising, since the formula was designed by Michael Savage Weiner, who spews garabge onto the airwaves on a daily. The man knows nothing but to create garbage.

RockStar tastes like shit anyway. There are much better (and less poisonous) drinks on the market. Everytime you buy a can of RockStar a Palestinian baby is killed.

As one of the Facebook individuals who was also served with a C&D Letter from Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro and the person that got San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to give a May 11th $25K donation from Rockstar CEO Russell G. Weiner, I say the following:

FIRST CHARGE: COFOUNDER

"Among the offensive misrepresentations about ROCKSTAR contained in the Group is the baseless statement that Michael Weiner, who is also known as Michael Savage, (“Mr. Savage”) is a co-founder of ROCKSTAR. Russell Weiner, ROCKSTAR's CEO and principal shareholder is the sole founder of ROCKSTAR and Mr. Savage is not and has never been an officer, director, employee or shareholder of ROCKSTAR."

From ROCKSTAR's OWN archived WEBSITE:

"I was very fortunate to have been raised by two of the leading herbalists in the world, Dr. and Mrs. MICHAEL WEINER, Ph.D. ... From my earliest walking days, I remember exploring the jungles of the South Pacific on expeditions WITH MY PARENTS. ... MY FAMILY HAS taken that spirit and experience - their lifetime journey - and DEVELOPED the most complete, most unique, most powerful, and most honest energy beverage ever created: ROCKSTAR." - CEO RUSSELL GOLDENCLOUD WEINER

(Recently disabled by Rockstar, but good thing I took a screen shot of it!)

Los Angeles Business Journal, November 29, 2004, Rebecca Flass - Interview - Bigger gulp: Russ Weiner liked Red Bull, so he launched Rockstar Beverages, a competing drink, and bought a Hollywood party house to promote it.

Q: How did you do come up with the drink?

A: My dad and mom have done consulting for GNC, Twin Lab, Nature's Herbs and Amway, developing products for them throughout the '80s and '90s. I also worked with a flavor company. It took a year-and-a-half and 700 formulas. I would tell them what I wanted it to taste like. I gave them the list of ingredients. And then, I'd tell them what to add in, what to take out, a little, more, let's say, vanilla, a little more raspberry. Lower the guarana, raise the ginseng level. Back and forth, literally, that's why it took so long.

ECOND CHARGE

"Also false and malicious is the statement by "Don't Drink Hate. BOYCOTT ROCKSTAR!" that ROCKSTAR's assets are “commingled” with the assets of Savage Productions, a production company owned and operated by Mr. Savage. This too is false. ROCKSTAR and Savage Productions are independent entities and in no way “commingle” their assets."

In the link below, from the Clark County Nevada Assessor's Office, you will be taken to a document showing Rockstar & Savage Productions co-owned property in Las Vegas together; 75% owned by Rockstar and 25% by Savage Production. This would be an asset that would appear on the books of both firms, and co-owned by both firms.

http://gisgate.co.clark.nv.us/assessor/webimages/default.asp?appID=1&txtdocNum=20071203%3A03853

If a firms employees are their greatest asset, which has been upheld numerous times and numerous legal cases. Then Mrs. Weiner serving as CFO for both Rockstar Energy & Savage Productions, would be a commingling of executive employee assets.

In another example, this individual Drew, claims to be employed as an Office Assistant for Rockstar & Radio Producer/Website News Editor for Savage Productions, for the last 4.5 years in both capacities: http://www.myspace.com/homerdrew

Aaron: Kudos on everything you've found!

Bil: Bravo. I'll be crossposting this to my Facebook account. Rockstar can suck it. My friends all know better than to drink it, since I'd most likely slap it out of their hand if I ever saw it.

I don't understand the statement in the letter that stating a connection between a father and his son's company is both false and malicious. It may or may not be false, though the information seems to indicate its truth, but how can it be malicious? "Malicious" seems to imply that the father is a person of ill repute. Are these lawyers suggesting that the article is "malicious" because Michael Weiner is a person of ill repute?

:Bruace Jack | June 11, 2009 1:36 PM

To all conservatives:

If you walk into a man's yard and his dog bites the shit out of you and you finally get out. Are you going to walk back in there next mo. Knowing that damn dog is going to bite you again? After whata the republicans have done to this country and the world is anyone going to vote for one again. Only that fool that would walk back into that yard with that dog!

Way to stand up to the threats! I'm proud of Bilerico Project!

Anyone listening to Weiner the Weiner knows he is sick and dishonest so why are people surprised to know that he lies about his connection to his sons business?

While you people spread the word about his drink, you might want to let people know that his Paul Revere Society has had its tax-exempt status eliminated by the IRS. That will happen when 60%+ of the donations are used for "fundraising". In other words, the money went into someones pocket

The Truth About Rockstar would like to thank the Bilerico Project and Bil Browning for reporting on this matter. Thank you Bil for your bravery!
www.thetruthaboutrockstar.com

awesome post, Bil! You've got my support : )

FYI I've included this in addition to 20+ other posts/resources/exclusive material in a centralized, time-lined comprehensive collection for anyone who wants to read, write about or share what's going on.

www.rockstarvsinternet.com

awesome post, Bil! You've got my support : )

FYI I've included this in addition to 20+ other posts/resources/exclusive material in a centralized, time-lined comprehensive collection for anyone who wants to read, write about or share what's going on.

www.rockstarvsinternet.com

Way to go Bil!

Suck on it Savage!!! We don't drink haterade!

Mitchell Halberstadt | June 23, 2009 5:42 PM

BRAVO! Hang in there!

Awesome, Bil!!!

Savage is a sociopath, and dangerous. He's a modern day version of Father Coughlin.

I boycott anything associated with him. That includes advertisers on radio stations that carry him, even if the ads are on other programs.

Radio stations that carry him enable evil. Advertisers that pay money to those radio stations also thus enable evil.

On one show, Savage personally endorsed a company called Vision Computers. Along with Rockstar, I recommend avoiding that company and their products like the plague.

OMG, Vision was one of the companies I was considering buying from when I was shopping for my new computer. I had no idea there was a connection to Savage.

Wow, now I'm really glad I found them overpriced, causing me to buy elsewhere. Knowing my PC was personally endorsed by Michael Savage would have taken a bit of the luster out of it, kind of like eating at a restaurant favored by sewer rats.

Thanks for standing up to that gross "legal" pressure!

And what the hell does Facebook have to fear, with all their resources, that they just immediately removed those groups? Someone should remove Facebook.

Rockstar Drinker | September 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Thank you. You just made me want to go buy another Rockstar. (Typing this while drinking Rockstar.)

Wow, I didn't realize Michael Savage had any connection to Rock Star, which has been my fave energy drink for years. I think I'll buy stock in the company and drink twice as much....mmmmmmmm_gOOOOOd

I'm still trying to figure out the whole point of this?? Your mission is to cave Rockstar in and also The Savage Nation? You're so small-time it's ridiculous. Just so I can judge for myself, I'd like to hear all those comments on audio feed if you have them. I'd like to jude for myself on whether or not he said the things he said. Of course context matters in these clips and to you it doesn't because I know you would have had the youtube link if you thought otherwise. As someone who listens to his show almost daily, I'm pretty sure you'd be wrong with most of those quotes. Besides, people have said worse things to me (and you) which brings me back to my original point:

Your so-called mission here: the context in which you want to smear the Rockstar product and the Rockstar family isn't working. People who aren't politically in tune to the nations politics don't know Savage. They know Rockstar tastes good and comes in a can for $2.50. Perhaps some people (if they did know) wouldn't give 2 licks about what he said and maybe would agree with those types of remarks. The context in which your strategy is employed relies on 3 flawed premises: 1. You actually think people care about this stuff, 2. You think everyone out there is a good person that takes remarks like those seriously, and 3. You assume waaay too much that everyone will read this page). Do you have any idea how long it took me to stumble across this?

Just so we're clear, Rockstar did "cave." They offered a full apology and donated over $100k to LGBT bloggers and organizations. See the first paragraph of the post:

We are pleased to announce though these discussions a bold agreement was reached between Rockstar and several LGBT rights organizations. This agreement resulted in significant changes to Rockstar Energy Drink's corporate practices to reflect LGBT-friendly policies, and also saw more than $100,000 distributed to four LGBT organizations through a multi-year, systemic gift. More details here. -Bil

If you'd like the proof of what Savage has said, try this crazy thing called clicking links. They're all linked. All you have to do is use your brain.

You got it, Joe! Like Michael says, "Liberalism is a mental disorder!" This entire site reeks of it!

hey guess what i know russell weiner personally and janet i also know michael used too be married to kera marie reidy-(lindberg-this is my lastname)-halterman(her maiden name)we were married for 2 or 3 years or something i dont care to remember but we were together for a while before as well. and her father my ex-father in-law was a convicted child molestor that molested his daughters and his ex wife got back with him and had her daughters with her one they were all still in there teens when the two got back together but even more my ex father in law- went out and found a new best buddy and long time friend /boss/partner named can you guess my father in laws name first his name is robert halterman go ahead look him up on the megans list in cal. van nuys 91402 hes a registered sex offender but can you guess the best thing that i am going to say here well can you guess who his best buddy or boss/ partner was se robert was a private contractor/project manager of rockstar and best buddies with russell weiner yup and i know more about russ too about his father and this whole thing about whether he gets royalties well i have been in russ's manion's and theres one down the street from the original rockstar mansion(wich i was the one who started calling it that in the first place im not stupid russ, robert must have said something about that to you good idea huh!)wich is also on sunset plaza dr. in hollywood "anyone want to party like a rockstar", but im sure he knows the other mansion that he was giving his father and puting in a raidio staition inside i saw all this stuff yup was there watched the kitchen being rebuilt again and one of the porches sanded and the whole house being remodeled for his father robert told me what he was doing and told me not to tell anyone and then we went and jumped into his pool on the roof after it was finished being remodeled, "oh and we were in our boxers and robert jumped in naked", anyway we were there moving furniture for russ sometimes or sometimes just goofing off playing with the toys as robert called it dont get me wrong robert was a hard worker but he took a lot of time and money off the top just like everyone else exept i got left out cause i was just an in law??????? i know that michael was the one who invented the mix but you know that they all told me not to say nothing. robert explained to why at some point but i never really cared i was part of rockstar. what i remember is russ was a rich boy from beverly hills and he was trying to make it himself when he was about 35 and so his dad made yeah... andhe got this ideah about energy drinks because energy drinks were getting poppular very and so he marketed them all over and finally started makeing it big and when he did now his dad not having the money i guess he just gives his dad what ever he wants thats what i was told i saw his family at the parties many many time his sisters his brothers and his best friends and they all have alot of money and do alot of money tradings or something like that what was it robert said at one point they buy and trade small countries???? any way i have met a lot of celebs there too not saying right now but anyway his family always gets money and anything they want from him even he told me this he yelled at me one time ad said "you need to make sure you treat my family right" did you know i used to hang out with michael at the parties sometimes and he would be so drunk he even told about what him and his son were doing? but he said "they all just hang around like vultures", talking about all the people in the parties or i guess the people around him and he was bomed too, but not bombed enough to talk about his private business his wife janet even talked to me a couple of times!!!! anyway there was about three or four years of rockstar and rockstar parties for me and then out and gone all the way across the country tried to make a life for me and my wife but she eventually left me and took my kids and dissapeered and broke court judgments about custody now im happy and happier to report the truth anyone want to know more i got alot??? if someone needs me to get intouch with them just write a comment of how i can contact you i have a face book too joseph david lindberg / kasajoe hit me up if you want to know more!!!!