Mike Adams, the Alt Medicine Purveyor Who Calls himself the ‘Health Ranger,’ Threatens to Sue Forbes and Writer

By Keith Kloor | May 16, 2014 10:58 am

It is not unusual for public figures to be unhappy with how they are portrayed in the media. Sometimes their complaints are understandable, other times not so much. What is unusual is for a public figure to take legal action against a journalist.

That’s because in the United States there is a very high bar for a defamation claim. A landmark Supreme Court decision 50 years ago ruled that a public figure cannot recover damages “unless clear and convincing evidence proves that a false and defamatory statement was published with ‘actual malice’ – that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

But if you are someone who still wants to punish a journalist for something he or she has written, you don’t actually have to sue. You just have to rattle a few sabers and threaten legal action.

This appears to be the tactic Mike Adams is using in an attempt to intimidate Forbes and muzzle one of their contributing writers/bloggers. Much more about that in a minute. First some background: Adams is the founder and operator of an internet website called Natural News, which, according to its mission statement,

covers holistic health, nutritional therapies, consciousness and spirituality, permaculture , organics, animal rights, environmental health, food and superfoods , and performance nutrition.

The Wikipedia page on Natural News is a good place to start if you never heard of Adams and want learn what he espouses and what the science blogosphere has written about him. For example, Wikipedia notes (my links) that, “Adams is an AIDS denialist, a 9/11 Truther,” and has “endorsed conspiracy theories surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.” Adams now objects to this characterization, yet he provides all the proof with his own writings.

At RationalWiki, you can browse from a ghoulishly absurd spectrum of conspiratorial offerings from Adams, including the one about Bill Gates and Microsoft developing weaponized influenza viruses, to achieve their “ultimate goal of wiping out a significant proportion of the human race.”

Unsurprisingly, Adams is a regular voice on the most feverish conspiracy forums.

By now, I can imagine what you are thinking. This guy is so far out there that who of sound mind–knowing all this–could possibly take him seriously?

Well, try wrapping your head around this: Dr Oz just had Adams on his TV show. Is it possible that neither Oz or his producers were aware of Adam’s notorious history? Here’s one incredulous reaction.

Anyway, all the kooky things that Adams puts up on NaturalNews.com and says all over the internet are there for you to check out yourself. For some examples, just follow the links I provided above. Or you could read the recent profile of Adams by Jon Entine at his Genetic Literacy website. The piece was cross-posted at Forbes, where Entine is a contributor to their website. (He is not on the Forbes editorial masthead. Rather, Entine, a science writer, is part of a large “content” network at the website.) For his piece, Entine drew almost entirely on Adams’ own writings, the public records of his various companies, and what scientists and other science bloggers had to say about him.

Adams did not appreciate the piece, which characterized him as “anti-science” and focused on his crusade against GMOs and how that commingled with his various conspiracy theories. He immediately went after Forbes and Entine.

To see how that has played out over the last month, let’s rewind the clock to April 3, when Entine’s unflattering profile of Adams was posted on the Forbes website. That day, Adams contacted Forbes to complain about factual inaccuracies and slanderous statements in the piece. He demanded it be taken down. Forbes complied, but it also asked Adams to spell out the alleged falsehoods in an email.

The next day, Adams sent a lengthy missive, detailing all the “corrections.” The gist of them: He objected to being called “anti-science,” an AIDS denialist, a 9/11 truther, and so on. In an email addressed to the Forbes editor, he wrote:

I am contacting you to firmly request that you immediately retract this article and refrain from allowing obvious biotechnology front men such as Jon Entine to exploit your website for such false and defamatory hit piece articles filled with many factual errors and rumor-mongering. This article, in fact, falls into the category of “cyber-bullying” and “electronic harassment.”

He added:

We are of course pursuing aggressive legal action against Forbes.com and Jon Entine personally, so both of you should expect to be served with a defamation lawsuit in due time.

Meanwhile, on April 4, Adams sent Entine a long email that was, by turns, threatening, bizarre, and creepy. Here’s a taste:

As you are now well aware, you are about to be named in a personal lawsuit which will cite the extensive body of your defamation and cyber bullying efforts, all of which have been archived and time stamped for court evidence. You can count on this lawsuit requiring considerable resources of your time and money for the foreseeable future.

You are no doubt also aware that I have many friends in law enforcement and that we are simultaneously pursuing an effort to have you arrested and charged with cyber bullying crimes. I honestly cannot say for sure whether such an effort will be successful, but it is one of the areas we are actively pursuing against you.

Adams emphasized that he would spare no expense:

You are also aware that I am in command of the financial resources to see these efforts through, regardless of their cost or duration.

Adams also let Entine know that, “I of course have a full file on you and your personal details…” Then, after laying it on thick, Adams suggested that the two of them settle the matter privately:

I do not know if you are are rational person, but if you are, then I invite you to discuss a private settlement agreement with me which would allow us both to focus our efforts elsewhere.

Adams, at times, almost sounded as if he was trying to befriend Entine:

I am not the person you think I am, Mr. Entine. You are not in a position to know the details yet.

Knowing that you might make this email public, I cannot divulge full details here, but I do know that you would be extremely surprised to learn what we have in common. If we could meet in person, in a secure and private conversation, I could tell you more.

Adams ended on this note:

If you wish to entertain a possible private settlement discussion, please email me back at your earliest convenience. We can either discuss it person to person, or we can involve both of our attorneys in the matter. Either method is acceptable to me, and any such discussions will of course be held in strict confidence.

You will no doubt find that such an effort works strongly in your favor, especially considering the alternative.

For weeks, Entine stewed over the threats. It also rankled him that Forbes kept his piece off their site, although he could understand why they wouldn’t want to be bothered by Adams. (Entine had sent Forbesmulti-page fact sheet (PDF) documenting his evidence. Again, this was gleaned from public records and Adams’ own writings.)

On April 21, Adams escalated his intimidation campaign. A law firm representing him sent a letter that day to both Forbes and Entine. The letter (PDF) to Forbes still threatened legal action (even though the article had already been taken off the website), unless certain demands were met:

We are now writing to request that Forbes 1) publish formal notice of retraction, explaining that the article lacked substantiation and contained false content, and 2) prohibit henceforth Jon Entine from serving as a contributing writer to Forbes, and reference this ban in the retraction.

The lawyer’s letter (PDF) to Entine said this:

We are writing to warn you of impending legal action we will take against you should you not abide by our following demands:

1) Immediately retract all content relating to Mike Adams and/or NaturalNews.com from all websites you exert control and/or influence over, including www.geneticliteracyproject.org;

2) Agree to cease from publishing any further information relating to Mike Adams or NaturalNews.com;

3) Issue a public apology for publishing defamatory information relating to Mike Adams and NaturalNews.com;

4) Compensate Mike Adams in the amount of $3,000.00 for legal fees incurred.

The odd thing about all this is that most everything in Entine’s piece that Adams objects to has already been reported and discussed elsewhere in multiple places in the science blogosphere. So is Adams just going after Forbes because it is a well-endowed, high profile media entity? And why try to muzzle Entine?

In an email this week to Adams, I asked him: “I am curious to know if you have pursued legal action against any of these other writers–and their publications/outlets?”

I haven’t heard back from him yet. If I do, I’ll post his response.

UPDATE: Mike Adams’ response can be read here. Also, Jon Entine has posted a related, follow-up article.

  • mem_somerville

    I. Cannot. Resist. This.

    I cannot divulge full details here, but I do know that you would be extremely surprised to learn what we have in common.

    I must know.

    • conspiracygirl

      23 pairs of chromosomes…???

  • First Officer

    They don’t call Adams the, “Stealth Danger”, for nothing !

  • First Officer

    Speaking of cyber-bullying, harassment, defamation and veiled threats….

    “GMO-promoting scientists are the most despicable humanoid creatures to
    have ever walked the surface of this planet. To call them “human”
    is an insult to humanity. They are ANTI-human. They are demonic. They
    are forces of evil that walk among the rest of us, parading as
    authorities when in their hearts and souls they are actually corporate
    cowards and traitors to humankind. To pad their own pockets, they would
    put at risk the very future of sustainable life on our planet… and
    they do it consciously, insidiously. They feed on death, destruction,
    suffering and pain. They align with the biotech industry precisely
    because they know that no other industry is as steeped in pure evil as
    the biotech industry. GMO pushers will lie, cheat, steal, falsify and
    even mass-murder as many people as it takes to further their agenda of
    total global domination over the entire food supply… at ANY cost.” – Mike Adams

    “I predict a future where — and for the record I DO NOT encourage this
    – shipments of GM seeds to farmers are raided and destroyed by
    activists. I predict Monsanto employees being publicly named and shamed
    on websites. I predict — but DO NOT CONDONE — scientists who conduct
    research for Monsanto being threatened, intimidated and even physically
    attacked. Again, for the record, I DO NOT IN ANY WAY condone such
    behavior, but I predict it will emerge as an inevitable reaction to the
    unfathomable evil being committed by the GMO industry and all its
    co-conspirators. The “Army of the 12 monkeys” may become reality. (See the sci-fi movie “12 monkeys” starring Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis.)I” – Mike Adams

    http://www.naturalnews.com/037262_gmo_monsanto_debate.html

  • Michael Phillips

    It must be frustrating to be libeled by something you wrote yourself.

  • Richard_Arrett

    It is a real pity Forbes took the article down in the first place. It only encourages more of these legal threats.

    I wish this issue would get litigated (like the Mann vs. Steyn defamation issue) – so it is clear that this sort of journalism is proper and legal.

  • Tom Scharf

    A letter from a lawyer costs nearly zero. There’s very little reason not to send one if you are looking for someone to take action. It’s intimidation, but it is not a very high level of intimidation. The standard response is to send a nearly zero cost legal form letter back denying all charges.

    Filing a frivolous lawsuit and forcing someone to defend it and spend money doing so is the legal form of intimidation that has been going here in the US for a 100 years.

    We shall see what the next step is. If he is rational, he will quit while he is behind.

    • DavidAppell

      I agree with you. Adams comes off as having a snarling growl, but lacking confidence.

      Most bullies deflate quickly when you stand up to them.

  • Bernie Mooney

    The disclaimer on the Natural News Laboratory website: “All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech… The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/grahamshevlin Graham Shevlin

      This merely confirms that Mike Adams, like a large number of highly opinionated people, is in favor of free speech as long as either he is doing the speaking or he agrees with the words being spoken. Any other speech he is much less in favor of.

  • conspiracygirl

    Disappointed to see Forbes fold before the ravings of a psychotic lunatic.

  • Jeremy Rawley

    Mike Adams is the gastronomic and medical equivalent of Ray Comfort.

  • Boris Ogon

    The GLP fact sheet contains one clear error: “[the Consumer Wellness Center] has failed to filed IRS tax returns for the group since 2003.” They’ve been filing Form 990-N.

    Adams notes at http://www.naturalnews.com/000358.html, while pimping Terry Pezzi’s herb company, that he has “no financial involvement in this company.” He fails to note that CWC paid Pezzi $99,963 in 2003 (basically all of its income) to be president.

    • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

      Boris, thanks for pointing that out. Non-profits with more than $25,000 in income are required to file detailed 990s, so didn’t check the “postcard” 990s. It looks like CWC stated less than $25,0000 (2007-2009) and less than $50,0000 in total receipts 2010-2012.

  • Alex Murdoch

    Oh, I hope he sues! The exposure would be beautiful.

    • http://www.facebook.com/grahamshevlin Graham Shevlin

      Does Entine live in a state with a robust anti-SLAPP statute? If he does, Adams would be mad to sue, since he not only could find his case being dismissed before it even gets to discovery, but he could also find himself having to pay money to the defendants. As Ken White over at Popehat has memorably observed, vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of thuggery, and much of the communication from Adams and his legal advisors would appear on first reading to fall into that category.

  • Ross Grayson

    So Forbes corporate lawyers displayed the backbone of a slime worm. Shameful…

  • Theodore P Smart

    In other news Kellogg’s is suing Mike Adams for Trademark violations. Seems you CANNOT go around impersonating a Fruitloop.

  • JH

    Looks like Mike is trying to make some money.

  • TwoCents

    Why doesn’t Entine and Forbes sue the jerk??

    • First Officer

      That is a very good question.

    • ElRonbo

      For what?

      • Boris Ogon

        “For what?”

        It *might* be possible to seek declaratory judgment, although I’m not yet convinced.

        • ElRonbo

          A declaratory judgement for what? What would be the grounds for bringing suit? And you only get a declaratory judgment if the defendent doesn’t bother showing up.

          • Boris Ogon

            “And you only get a declaratory judgment if the defendent doesn’t bother showing up.”

            Um, no. The sending of a cease-and-desist letter, *in some cases*, allows the putative defendant to preemptively seek a court judgment that the threatened action is meritless. This is a declaratory judgment.

            The tactic was recently used against Charles Carreon when he sent an open-ended threat to sue the operator of a site that mocked him, for trademark infringement:

            http://www.citizen.org/litigation/forms/cases/getlinkforcase.cfm?cID=767

            Whether this is viable in a defamation case is something that I’m not certain of. To be sure, in my own state, one senator has been trying for some time to make it a statutory right, which strongly suggests that it’s no sure thing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/grahamshevlin Graham Shevlin

        If they are resident in a state with a good anti-SLAPP statute, they could file a counter-claim. However, not all states have anti-SLAPP statutes yet.

  • Friz Martin

    Seems the perfect way to increase exposure, website clicks and his 401K.
    Go dude.

  • Max Rodgers

    All of you bad mouthing Mike Adams know nothing. He stands up for health where others have ffailed.

  • http://twitter.com/Skepacabra Skepacabra

    Fact: Mike Adams is a dangerous lunatic whose cost countless people their lives.

    Come at me, bro!

  • Shredder

    This is all a total red herring. The internet is populated with nut jobs of all stripes. Nutty conspiracy theories from some guy prove nothing about the relative merits of GMOs, although they make for good propaganda. This guy is serving the pro-biotech crowd very well right now from a PR POV, I’d say. But most of the rest of the world – from numerous US states to countries all over the world, including France, China, Brazil, and Russia, just to name a few are all moving away from GMOs for a variety of reasons, all legitimate and science-based: documented health risks, environmental harms, and basic economics. And this whole comparison with climate change deniers is ridiculous on its face. Scientific knowledge about the greenhouse effect goes back decades, and the science of climate change is exhaustive. Whereas the science on GMOs is, besides very recent, biased or incomplete (mere 90-day trials, cherry-picking, confirmation biases, etc etc.) And even with the dominance of the research field by industry, there is still quite a substantial and credible body of evidence that refutes the standard claims advanced by proponents, the vast majority of whom are self-interested in one way or another. Truth be told I detect more than a hint of desperation in that there is even this much attention being paid to this sideshow. It’s pretty good clickbait though, I’ll admit that.

  • Kongming Hy

    I have read Mr. Mike Adam’s bio and another article about him at Genetic Literacy Project. I personally think that Mr. Adams can sue whoever he wants. Looks like there are plenty of website negatively criticizing/condemning him. People can choose what and who they want to believed based on their own common sense . I found that Natural News is a very informative and interesting website.

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Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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