Savage Blames Left Wing Set Up For Firing

Wed. July 9, 2003 12:00 AM by

New York City - Michael Savage has issued what he calls an apology for the homophobic anti-AIDS attack that got him fired from his MSNBC show Saturday. (story | story) But, for most gay activists it fell on deaf ears and for the network, owned jointly by NBC and Microsoft, the decision to fire him stands.

On his website, Savage says "If my comments brought pain to anyone I certainly did not intend for this to happen and apologize for any such reaction."

But he says he shouldn't be blamed for the outburst. Savage claims he was set up and suggests there was a left-wing conspiracy against him.

Savage says he was pulled into the exchange by a "vicious setup caller."

"Out of nowhere a crank caller from a competitive talk show went from describing his airline horror story to making vicious personal attacks against me," said Savage in a statement. "I signaled and thought that this crank caller was cut from the air. His insults continued in my ear piece and I reacted to him personally as an individual who was attacking me to defend myself."

The "explanation" rang hollow for GLAAD's media director Cathy Renna. "Whether it was a prank or not or on the air or not it was unacceptable behavior," Renna told

"He may not have realized he was on the air but he was on the clock for NBC."

A tape of the broadcast, obtained by GLAAD, differs from Savage's claim that The Caller changed topics from "Airline Horror Stories" where listeners were encouraged to call in with their experiences.

When the caller began talking about people smoking in airplane bathrooms Savage cut him off by asking: "So you're one of those sodomists. Are you a sodomite?"

The caller replied: "Yes, I am."

"Oh, you're one of the sodomites," Savage said. "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it."

The caller was Bob Foster, a California man who regularly makes prank calls. Foster said Tuesday that his call had nothing to do with gay issues, but noted that ''if [Savage] is making those kind of comments, those aren't right.''

Renna said the full impact of Savage's tirade and his subsequent firing "has woken up a lot of companies about what is acceptable."

A spokesperson for MSNBC said the company has made its decision on Savage and would have nothing further to say. Savage's syndicated radio talk show continues throughout the country, except in Boston, where WRKO-AM suspended it.

Program director Mike Elder says he is skeptical of Savage's explanation, noting that ''if you've been in broadcasting as long as [Savage has], you know if your lines are live or dead. I have trouble buying that.''

Elder said the show would remain off the air on his station ''at least temporarily,'' pending a conversation with the show's syndicators, the Oregon-based Talk Radio Network.

Elder called Savage's remarks ''over the line'' and said ''I think he's probably a homophobe in reality.'' Elder said he planned to make it clear that if he accepted Savage back on the air, any similar incident would be grounds for permanent cancellation.

by Beth Shapiro Newscenter
New York Bureau
©® 2003

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.