Music writer Bob Lefsetz, whose frequent “Lefsetz Letter” email is closely read by much of the music business, has become a magnet lately for readers looking to share their personal accounts of sexual misconduct in the industry — and he’s been publishing their stories in his newsletter as he’s done with all types of feedback on his columns for years.
Now following a legal threat, Lefsetz’s attorneys are defending his right to continue doing so.
“Mr. Lefsetz will not succumb to the threats of litigation intended to chill his rights to distribute his column,” wrote Howard King and Peter Paterno of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP, in a letter to the legal team representing Republic executive Charlie Walk, currently on leave pending an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations. “Mr. Lefsetz has a long and well-respected history of commenting on the entertainment business, among other topics, and operating as a clearing house for any third party comments directed to him.”
Paterno and King write in the letter, which Lefsetz published in his newsletter distributed Friday (2/9) that “to the extent interested parties object to third party posts, Mr. Lefsetz’s practice is to post those responses….It is certainly true that Mr. Lefsetz does not shy away from giving his opinions, which is probably why his newsletter is the most read publication in the entertainment business.”
In late January, Lefsetz published a link on his website to a letter by Tristan Coopersmith titled “An Open Letter to Charlie Walk,” in which she accuses Walk of sexual misconduct during the time they worked together at Sony, accusations that Walk has denied by saying “there has never been a single HR claim against me at any time during my 25+ year career, spanning three major companies. I have consistently been a supporter of the women’s movement and this is the first time I have ever heard of this or any other allegation — and it is false.”
Below the link to the open letter, Lefsetz posted a short series of thoughts and questions on the larger #MeToo movement. His only direct mention of Walk is in reference to whether he should keep his job at the singing show The Four.
Earlier this week, Walk’s attorneys responded by calling Lefsetz’s post “especially reckless” and took issue because he did not contact Walk “before publishing these false and damaging allegations and validating them with your own imprimatur.” Walk’s attorney demands Lefsetz remove the post and retain all communications regarding it.
Lefsetz’s attorneys cited his First Amendment right to share his opinion on Walk and pointed out that his demand for a retraction does not contain anything “that you contend is provably false and should be corrected.”
They added, “in fact, Mr. Lefsetz’s piece was essentially a series of questions. Maybe your client answered them and didn’t like the answers. But that’s not defamation — that’s a guilty conscience. The most salient question Mr. Lefsetz posed was ‘Does Charlie Walk get bounced from (the) television singing show ‘The Four’? One would think definitely, right?’ Well, yes.”
The digs continue: “Frankly, there was no intent to harm Mr. Walk. He seems very capable of doing that on his own. Mr. Lefsetz was merely going about his business. However, Mr. Lefsetz accepts no obligation to censor third party postings or his own opinions, including his opinion that, under the circumstances, Mr. Walk should resign (which opinion, as noted, does not even appear in the post.).”
On Jan. 31, Walk was put on leave from Republic and he later withdrew from the finale of The Four.
Lefsetz and Walk’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.