Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Talk Radio Network: A Savage and Two Masters 1/2

by Nomad
With abrasive Right Wing talk radio “personality” Rush Limbaugh’s all-but-inevitable dismissal from the airwaves, many people are starting to ask how the heck were people like this man ever allowed behind a microphone in the first place. His latest outrage- calling Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown student meant to testify before Congress a variety of insulting names over a few days- is really only a single example in a career built on competitive sensationalism. And Limbaugh is, of course, by no means alone.

A Man Called Savage

Michael Savage
Let’s take a look at another radio personality who has made a name for himself promoting right wing hate. If you thought Rush Limbaugh was bad, then Michael Savage (born Michael Alan Weiner) a radio talk show host for the Talk Radio Network, could be his equal or worse. 
In 2003, Slate’s David Gilson, in an interesting bio piece, described Savage’s shtick in this way:
Using the pseudonym Michael Savage, he’s launched a one-man mission to save America from its enemies at home and abroad, which on any given day includes liberals, gays, academics, the homeless, the Clintons, immigrants, feminists, CNN, the American Civil Liberties Union, Muslims and other minorities. Broadcasting three hours a day, five afternoons a week, from a rented studio in downtown San Francisco, he gives voice to the right wing’s darkest fantasies.
This is definitely a man who has found his calling in life. However, Savage’s qualifications for thoughtful political discussion were hardly promising. He holds master's degrees from the University of Hawaii in medical botany and medical anthropology and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in nutritional ethnomedicine. (Think: shaman as scientist.)

Before he discovered this career, Savage earned his living “promoting his books on alternative medicine, recommending bizarre remedies such as using vitamin C to stop AIDS and kicking cocaine with coffee enemas.” Undoubtedly, Savage now believes he is giving the liberally-hijacked America the same sort of treatment. 

With the success of his radio show which reaches more than 8 million listeners, Savage was hired by MSNBC to do a one-hour show beginning March 8, 2003.

When a gay group, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation [GLAAD], attempted to launch a boycott of the nationally syndicated MSNBC's "Savage Nation," Savage’s radio owners responded with a lawsuit against the owners of websites alleging that “defendants had caused Savage financial damage by interfering with his relationship with advertisers.” 

Remarkable that the lawyers had not heard of the concept of a boycott.

Only a week after the show’s debut, all six national sponsors of MSNBC's "Savage Nation" debut publicly withdrew from the program, in the wake of the boycott. That sent a clear message to NBC News that supporting Savage might be great for ratings but it came at a cost to advertising revenue. The question of the appropriateness of supporting Michael Savage's attacks on women, people of color, immigrants and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community doesn’t seem to have been a major problem.

According to Online Journalism Review. the websites and their lawyers fought back and, after several months, Talk Radio Network, (TRN) withdrew the suit without obtaining any concessions from the defendants.

Eventually, less than a year into his contract, on July 7, Savage went too far. He lost his job after he lambasted a live caller whose voice he apparently recognized. Along with an assortment of homophobic attacks, Savage called the man a “sodomite,” a “pig” and a “piece of garbage.” Savage then wished he would die of AIDS.

The following day, with MSNBC obviously under siege, Savage apologized (Limbaugh style) telling his radio audience that, when he had attacked the caller, he was defending himself from a caller aimed at harassment. And, besides, Savage explained, he had mistakenly thought he was off the air. (It is clear from the video that this was nonsense. Following his outburst, Savage tells his studio manager to go to a commercial.)

No minority is safe from Savage’s rants. He has also used the airwaves to launch attacks on Muslims too.
"…I have a number of things that I am gonna demand and one of them is that no more Muslim immigrants come into this country. No more mosques be permitted to be built in this country…and yes we need racial profiling immediately… And how did these Muslims get into England?... These vermin, these vermins, snuck in under asylum laws and the only reason there was an asylum law is that the liberals of England…said that we have to be nicer to Muslims."
Another target of his "vermin sermons" has been women. For example, in regards to comments she made about comments she made about inappropriate remarks Hugo Chavez made about Obama, Savage has called Barbara Walters “double-talking slut.” One source quotes him:
And I stick by those words. She's an empty mind-slut. She'd peddle anything for a ratings point." Continuing his over the top rant, Savage called Walters a "mental prostitute" and said, "I think that the woman is vermin. I think she's dirt."
As you have understood already, he has a fondness for the word “vermin” because Savage paints the entire world with a large vermin brush.

A Night Out with The Savages
Like many of the more rabid radio talk show hosts, Savage tends to live in his own world, shaped by his narrow political views and his version of events. That’s true for most of us but in his case, there’s very little contact with reality. 

Submitted as evidence is this excerpt from a show in which he describes a certain event which had occurred several years in the past. 

However, the actual video of the incident surfaced and captures the moment pretty clearly. The film makers were, in fact, riding along with the police when Michael Savage and his wife, Lilly, mistook them for amateur filmmakers trying to capture police brutality. (The police officer seems embarrassed by their interference and over-reaction)

While I congratulate Michael for finding a mate to share his world with, the Savages’ behavior is altogether disturbing; taking it upon themselves to become involved in a matter and to create a provocation. Judge for yourself.

When Good Weiners Go Bad
His radio attacks are so outrageous that many moderates and liberals have suggested that it is all a put-up job. Something along the lines of Archie Bunker whose character was a parody designed to show the idiocy behind the viewpoint. Nobody can be that intolerant, not seriously, they say. He lives in San Francisco, for pity’s sake. 
Of Micheal Savage, Wonkette stated:
Weiner’s act has led to a syndicated comedy show and several books — a lucrative career for a flower-power beatnik who once considered simply lounging naked with his male poet friends to be “the good life.” How many in his audience “get it” has never been established, as even callers to his show are asked to stay in character.
But then perhaps this is not intended as a serious statement. In any case, many of us would prefer not believe that people can actually change so radically. 

In a 2006 interview for SF Weekly, Savage explained, "I was once a child; I am now a man." In the same interview, he said of Ginsberg, "I looked at him almost like a rabbinic figure. Little did I know that he was the fucking devil." 

Michael Wiener- Herbal Healer
After all, they cite as evidence, here was a man who once worked for psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary. Before Michael became a Savage, he was the unlikely author such books as Plant a Tree: A Working Guide to Regreening America, The Herbal Bible: A Family Guide to Herbal Home Remedies and Healing Children Naturally. Savage? Wiener? Wasn’t this the guy who, according the Allen Ginsberg’s biographer Neeli Cherkovski, swam naked in Fiji with the openly gay beatnik poet? And didn’t Cherkovski also say that Savage/Wiener wanted to be a stand up comic along the lines of Lenny Bruce? 

(Of course, many hipsters have chosen to ignore the fact that Jack Kerouac, considered by many the father of the Beat generation, supported the Vietnam War and was an admirer of the right wing commenter, William F. Buckley.) 

If it is true- that Savage's entire life on the radio is all a performance art exhibit, then most people would agree that he has carried this poor excuse for a joke a bit too far. 
Others, people who knew him before he devolved into what he is now say his character transformed when he was rejected from the liberal art crowd in San Francisco. Wiener’s strange behavior turned many in the North beach crowd away, Says liberal activist Stephen Schwartz, a man who had known Savage in his early days: 
“After he had been there a while, his personality began to change. He became much more aggressive. He would collar you and demand that you eat with him, listen to him,” he says. According to Schwartz, Weiner openly carried a gun and made public scenes when he ran into his former friends and acquaintances. “He would come into Cafe Trieste and start yelling at me that I was a nobody and he was a somebody.”
In the Salon article, the poet, painter, liberal activist and an icon of the Beats, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, gives his take on Savage.
“Now he just screams at us in the streets,” sighs Ferlinghetti, who once went to Hawaii with Weiner and his family. He views Weiner’s reincarnation as Michael Savage as “total opportunism,” the crowning achievement of someone who was “always looking to make a fast buck” and “always trying to think up new schemes to get famous.”
Nowadays, Savage has an opinion on every event and the spin he puts on them is both calculated and predictable. For instance, in a interview with WorldNetDaily, he attempted to give his insight into the massacre and bombing in Norway by deranged right wing terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik. Savage revealed that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Norwegian attack, which killed 69 people, was a left wing conspiracy.
"This has all the appearances of a cover-up," Savage told WND. "They created their Reichstag fire. They found their Timothy McVeigh. They created their Jack Ruby. How could one man have blown up the downtown and then raced to the island to kill the teens?

"This is likely a fabrication of the Labour Party, who needs to hold onto power to enforce their multi-culturalist, Muslim-favoring, anti-nationalist views.
In fact, Breivik and Savage would, on the surface, appear to have a lot in common. With the help of an astute translator, they could perhaps share their similar views on threat of Islamanti-feminism, and white nationalism. Between them, only one them has been diagnosed as with paranoid schizophrenia. As of this writing, at least.

If this was a single example of Savage’s quirky opinions, it might be regarded as merely the ravings of a man who has spent his whole life crying out for attention, now past his prime and sliding into a grumbling old age. However, Savage is a one-stop place to shop for all manner of hate-speech.
Savage's main sources of anger these days are illegal immigrants, Islamic terrorists (a near-redundancy for him), and homosexuals. Unlike his parents, who legally emigrated to the United States, arriving in Ellis Island, illegal immigrants assault fundamental American values-or so Savage claims. They not only compromise the security of the border and bring drugs, crime, and disease with them, but they threaten the American way of life-or at least the white male way of life.
It’s not just the liberals of America that find Savage to be an odious element. Other countries reject this kind of ramble-rousing as incitement. 

Along with such people as Fred Phelps (of the Westboro Church infamy), Stephen 'Don' Black, the KKK grand wizer, and neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe, Savage is, according to the BBC, listed by the Home Office as an “undesirable” and is denied entry into the UK. The reason? For allegedly "seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred". 
 In 2009, Jacqui Smith stated that “granting free speech did not provide a licence to preach hatred and that those banned had ‘clearly overstepped the mark’ with the attitudes they had expressed.”

And yet here in the US, people like Savage are still considered marketable commodities. 
Here in America, there seems to be no distinction made between a single angry lunatic ranting in the park about the end of the world and a right wing talk show host ("personality")with a glitzy radio format spewing hostility to 8–10 million listeners a week in 300 markets across the country.

In the second part of this three-part series, we shall examine the network that hosts Savage and their beliefs. 
Click here to proceed to PART TWO.