Wednesday, July 09, 2003

More trouble for a guy who deserves it. Gay-bashing hatemonger Michael Savage's well-publicized firing from MSNBC isn't his only problem: his talk-radio empire may be crumbling as well.

Ira Simmons reports on ChronWatch that, because of a contract dispute in Savage's home base of San Francisco, The Savage Nation has been yanked off the air in New York City.

His show has also been (temporarily?) suspended in Boston at WRKO Radio (AM 680), the Boston Globe's Mark Jurkowitz reports today. Program director Mike Elder tells Jurkowitz that he personally believes Savage is "probably a homophobe," and that he will not tolerate an outburst like Saturday's MSNBC incident on WRKO's airwaves.

This is all moving in the right direction, yet the underlying hypocrisy continues to astound. Doesn't Elder listen to his own radio station? Before MSNBC ever gave Savage a show, he was already infamous for his references to "homosexual perversion" and "Turd World nations" -- references that were broadcast repeatedly to WRKO listeners since his being added to the line-up last year.

Savage's ridiculous sucking-up to a lesbian cop in the debut of his TV show demonstrated that both he and MSNBC knew they had to do something about his well-earned reputation as a homophobe.

Hey, Mike (Elder, that is): take a look at this compilation by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. As far back as 1999, the San Jose Mercury News reported, "Savage has apologized to gay activists after saying he wished they would get AIDS."

Savage has reportedly also joked about "the Million Dyke March," and has spoken out about "the grand plan, to push homosexuality to cut down on the white race."

On its website, WRKO has posted a statement about Savage that concludes:

It is our hope that Michael Savage will return to WRKO in the next few days. It is clear that these comments were not made on his radio show, but this is the same way we'd handle a similar situation with our local talent. This is not a free speech issue, but rather an issue of appropriateness and good corporate citizenship.

WRKO is certainly right about one thing: this is not a free-speech issue. The station is part of Entercom, a corporate media conglomerate with stations across the country -- four in Boston alone. Its profits derive from the deregulatory environment of recent years, in which the FCC has allowed a handful of giant operators to gobble up all but a hardy few stations.

Elder needs to understand this: Michael Savage is a homophobe, and his homophobic remarks on television were an extension of the homophobic remarks he's made on radio. Does Elder care? He certainly will if carrying The Savage Nation turns into a business liability.

Do advertisers really want to be associated with such garbage? We'll soon find out.

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