Michael Savage Really Sucks

 This really got me peeved. Not sure why, maybe because the whole notion of attacking kids in any way is just incredibly pathetic. So, I followed the suggestion of Media Matters, and tracked down one of the stations in my area, WOR in New York, that broadcasts Savage and his filthy crap. They had already realized that the shit was about to hit the fan and was in full damage control mode with a “tell us what you think” page on their website. While it was clear from their statement that they really wanted to disassociate themselves from Savage without really addressing his stupid and hurtful remarks while the storm blew over it was worth a try. So I wrote back to their general manager, Jerry Crowley:

Dear Mr. Crowley,

You have asked for feedback on the issue of Michael Savage and his outrageous commentary regarding children with autism. As a parent of a child with asthma (yes, he lashed out at them as well) I found his commentary profoundly hurtful.

On your website you declare: “The views expressed by Michael Savage are his views and are not those of WOR Radio. As Michael Savage is a syndicated show, the content is the responsibility of the syndicator, which is Talk Radio Networks.”

Quite so. However, you decide whether to broadcast (or not) Mr. Savage and his comments — whatever they may be; as such, the comments he makes will directly impact listeners’ impression of you and your advertisers. When Mr. Savage on your airwaves declares that most autistic children are frauds then your radio station is the vehicle for that message of profound ignorance and disrespect. Furthermore, while you state that “it is impossible for WOR Radio to know the subject matter in advance of airing” it’s not like this is the first time Mr. Savage has been way out of line, is it? A willfully ignorant shock jock who prefers inflammatory and vindictive conjecture over facts, he’s lashed out at everyone from Muslim Americans to Ted Kennedy (see http://mediamatters.org/issues_topics/tags/michael_savage?f=h_top for a full list). It seems a bit disingenuous for you to feign ignorance of his track record and pretend that you’re surprised that he’d say something inappropriate on the air. Your air.

You can try to distance yourself from Mr. Savage’s idiotic and hate-filled commentary with disclaimers about syndication all you want — or you can realize that if you truly are “in the business of serving the community in which we broadcast” then the time has come to find a replacement for Mr. Savage – just like your colleagues in Mississippi, who just announced that they’ve cancelled his show (see http://www.supertalkms.com/index.php and http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/22/aflac-pulls-ads-from-savages-radio-show/ ). Those of your listeners who choose to believe as Mr. Savage that autistic children should simply be “told not to act like morons” will probably find some other way of getting their daily dose of the dumb when you do the right thing and sever your relationship with his show. Should people with that mindset decide to abandon your station when you clean up your act they probably won’t be missed…


And look what I got back — the formletter to end them all:

Dear Valued Listener:

Thank you for your recent email to WOR regarding Michael Savage’s remarks on the radio about Autism. As always, we appreciate and welcome your feedback.

As you may have already seen or heard, Michael Savage’s official statement concerning his remarks is as follows:

“My comments about autism were meant to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community’s attempt to label too many children or adults as autistic.

Just as some drug companies have overdiagnosed ADD and ADHD to peddle dangerous speed-like drugs to children as young as 4 years of age this cartel of doctors and drug companies is now creating a national panic by overdiagnosing autism for which there is no definitive medical diagnosis!

Many children are being victimized by being diagnosed with an illness which may not exist, in all cases. Just a few weeks ago doctors recommended dangerous anti-cholesterol drugs for children as young as 2 years of age!

Without any scientific studies on the possible dangers of such drugs on children, corrupt doctors made this controversial, unscientific recommendation. Increasingly our children are being used as profit centers by a greedy, corrupt medical/pharmaceutical establishment. As the brother of a severely disabled person who suffered and died in a New York snake-pit of a mental hospital, I know first-hand what true disability is.

To permit greedy doctors to include children in medical categories which may not be appropriate is a crime against that child and their family. Let the truly autistic be treated.

Let the falsely diagnosed be free.”

Savage devoted his entire three-hour broadcast of July 21 to further clarifying and explaining his position on autism, allowing listeners to call in and voice their outrage, support, and everything in between. As part of the show, he interviewed Professor Stephen Camarata of Vanderbilt University, who has tested and treated children with autism for over twenty years. Camarata has stated that “because there are no reliable biomedical markers for autism, diagnosis must rely on subjective rating scales making it difficult if not impossible to conduct accurate screening in toddlers or preschoolers.”

Camarata told Savage on the air that he feels “It is absolutely crucial that we come up with and follow specific, consistent guidelines [for diagnosing autism].” The professor continued, “If we expand the autism spectrum…this broad definition…then we are including people who only have maybe one or two of the symptoms and don’t have the core symptoms of autism in our genetic studies…our neuron-imaging studies.”

When asked by Savage about the oft-cited statistic that one in one hundred and fifty children is autistic, Professor Camarata disagreed. He told Savage that “Because the spectrum does not have a standard definition [that of the American Psychiatric Association], it is hard to know what that incidence is.” Camarata also cited a study in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics last year that said that thirty-four percent of the children using an autism screening questionnaire were in fact over-diagnosed as being autistic.

Obviously, the topic of autism is fraught with emotion, particularly for those afflicted with it or by it…children, their families, and those who know and love them. With the attention that Michael is calling to this topic, he has opened a public forum via talk radio for the discussion of it. Hopefully this will help to educate us all…Savage included!

It should be noted that WOR is neither responsible for nor endorses the views of Michael Savage. This is a syndicated show that WOR airs for our listeners’ enjoyment.

WOR is in the business of serving the community in which we broadcast. That is our stated goal, and we will continue to do so. We regret any consternation that Michael Savage’s remarks may have caused to our listeners, and we hope that the ensuing dialogue will lead us all to a better place.


Jerry Crowley

Yeah, so much for a dialogue with their listeners. I have no doubt that WOR and other broadcasters will continue to allow Savage to spew forth his ignorant bile, even though some in Congress had the courage to call him on his bullshit this week. Hopefully other advertisers will come to realize like AFLAC that associating themselves with Savage is like smearing their brand and product in shit.

Update: Lots of pressure on advertisers to get their act together and get off the Savage Hate Hour, see here and here and here, too. Oh, and the grade A wankers at Talk Radio Network claim that Savage’s case of teh dumb was merely <i>”an inartful lapse to supply full context“</i> and would like everybody to shut up and go away, because we’re really just shrill lefties, except the advocacy groups who have led the drive to get rid of Savage once and for all — they can get a free PSA on TRN’s hate network. I’m sure they’ll love that payoff.