Michael Alan Weiner (born March 31, 1942 in New York City), better known by his pseudonym Michael Savage, is an American radio host, author, and conservative political commentator. His nationally-syndicated talk show, The Savage Nation, airs throughout the United States on Talk Radio Network. He holds master's degrees in medical botany and medical anthropology and he earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in nutritional ethnomedicine. As Michael Weiner, he has written books on herbal medicine and homeopathy. As Michael Savage, he has written four New York Times bestsellers. His radio show reaches some 8 million listeners on 400 stations throughout the United States, ranking third in number of stations syndicated nationwide and third in nationwide audience behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Savage's political philosophy can be summarized in three words: borders, language, and culture. Some, including Savage himself, have characterized his views as conservative nationalism. Consequently, he is a critic of illegal immigration, a supporter of the English-only movement, and claims that liberalism and same-sex marriage are degrading American culture. Although his radio delivery is sometimes characterized by colorful language and a confrontational approach, much of his show involves ruminating on topics such as history, culture (food, books, television), health issues, and personal anecdotes. His show is peppered with such phrases as "liberalism is a mental disorder", and many of his comments have earned Savage the criticism of liberal groups and even some conservatives.
Michael Savage was born Michael Alan Weiner to a Jewish family with Russian origins living in the Bronx. As a child, he worked. He described his childhood as difficult, due to his father's "gruff and profane" personality. His father died of a heart attack in his fifties.
After graduating from Jamaica High School, Savage attended Queens College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in education and sociology. After college Savage taught high school for several years in New York City. His first marriage to Carol Ely in 1964 ended in divorce, and he remarried after meeting his current wife Janet in 1967. His first wife says that she became pregnant twice and aborted both pregnancies. During this time, Savage also worked for famous psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary as keeper of the stone gatehouse on Leary's Millbrook estate. Leary hired him to the post because Savage did not use LSD himself. Savage then earned two master's degrees in ethnobotany and anthropology from the University of Hawaii. He obtained a Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of California, Berkeley, in nutritional ethnomedicine. His thesis was titled Nutritional Ethnomedicine in Fiji. Savage spent many years researching botany in the South Pacific and has a background in alternative medicine. While in the South Pacific, he became fascinated with the 19th-century sailor Charles Savage, who was believed to be the man that first brought firearms to Fiji.
Savage and his second wife have two children, a daughter and a son; his son, Russell, is the founder of the company that produces the Rockstar energy drink, where Janet serves as chief financial officer.
Since finding his place in radio, Savage and his former friends and acquaintances from the North Beach area of San Francisco have traded barbs. Savage now derides Ferlinghetti and calls Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore "that once-famous communist bookstore." Ferlinghetti claims that Weiner's "reincarnation" as Savage represents "total opportunism," and characterizes his former friend as "always looking to make a fast buck" and "always trying to think up new schemes to be famous." Savage said, "I looked at [Ginsberg] almost like a rabbinic figure. Little did I know that he was the fucking devil."
At the time, his slogan was "To the right of Rush and to the left of God." On January 1, 1995, he was given his own show during the drive-time hours. The show quickly became a local hit. During his time at KSFO, Savage soared to #1 in Arbitron ratings among both adult men and women over 18 during afternoon drive-time in San Francisco and became top talk host in his timeslot in Northern California. In 1999, he came to the attention of the Talk Radio Network, based in Oregon, which currently syndicates his The Savage Nation radio program.
As of the fall of 2006, Savage has eight to 10 million listeners per week, making his show the third most widely heard broadcast in the United States. Savage calls his listeners "literate callers with intelligence, wit, and energy." He says that he tries to make a show that has a "...hard edge combined with humor and education...Those who listen to me say they hear a bit of Plato, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Moses, Jesus, and Frankenstein." Mark de la Viña of the San Jose Mercury News wrote of Savage, "In contrast to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Schlesinger, Bay Area-based Savage mixes conservative diatribe and blunt observations with acerbic humor and a gift of gab. It has propelled him to the top of radio talk-show ratings as well as bestseller book lists."
From the very beginning of his stint at MSNBC, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) urged the show's sponsors to stop advertising on the show. Savage did not sue GLAAD, but Talk Radio Network Inc. (TRN), which syndicated his radio show, did sue the owners of three small noncommercial websites that had criticized Savage and endorsed the call for advertisers to withdraw their support for the show: savagestupidity.com, michaelsavagesucks.com, and takebackthemedia.com The suit alleged that the defendants had caused Savage financial damage by interfering with his relationship with advertisers, had used material from The Michael Savage Show without permission, and had spread "false and malicious" information about Savage. The suit was brought in Illinois, the location of Culligan, a company that stopped advertising with TRN. Public Citizen undertook the legal defense of the owners of savagestupidity.com. Savage also contended before the National Arbitration Forum that the "savagestupidity.com" and "michaelsavagesucks.com" domain names were "confusingly similar" to his own "michaelsavage.com", and that he should be given those domain names. Several months after filing the lawsuit, TRN withdrew it without obtaining any concessions from the defendants. The National Arbitration Forum ruled against Savage's claim. Four months later, on July 7, Savage was fired from his MSNBC television show after remarks made in response to a caller, later identified as prank caller Bob Foster, who insulted Savage's teeth. Savage then asked if Foster was a "sodomite", to which the caller answered, "Yes." Savage then said to the caller, "Oh, so you're one of those sodomites. 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 to do than to put me down, you piece of garbage? You got nothing to do today? Go eat a sausage, and choke on it. Get trichinosis. Now do we have another nice caller here who's busy because he didn't have a nice night in the bathhouse who's angry at me today? Put another, put another sodomite on....no more calls?...I don't care about these bums; they mean nothing to me. They're all sausages."
The day after being fired, Savage apologized on his radio program and on his website. He explained that he believed that MSNBC had gone to commercial to cover the gaffe of the attempted sabotage by a prank caller and that he was off the air at the time of the offensive comments. He also said his remarks were meant only to insult the caller, not all people with AIDS.
Michael Savage calls himself an "independent-minded individualist" and says that he "fits no stereotype." Savage criticizes "big government", homosexuality, and liberalism, accuses the media of "liberal bias," and champions environmentalism and animal rights. He has said that there are three aspects that define a society: borders, language, and culture. He founded the Paul Revere Society in 1996 with his son Russell to protest illegal immigration; he says the group's mission is to "bring together Americans who actively seek to take back our borders, our language, and our traditional culture from the liberal left corroding our great nation. In 1998, the organization had approximately 4,000 members. The organization's annual information return, form 990, for 2004 reported that 62% ($109,413 out of $178,215) of its expenses were for fundraising activities. On June 5, 2006, the IRS rescinded the tax-exempt status of The Paul Revere Society.
On the October 9, 2008 broadcast of his radio show, Savage announced that he was in the process of forming a third party. Savage expressed an interest in producing third party candidates within the next two to four years. Originally, Savage had intended to call this party the "Nationalist Party," but admitted to having abandoned this name for fear of falsely associating the party with existing "Nationalist" parties which espouse racist stances. Throughout the broadcast, Savage referred to the party as "the Savage Nation Party" as well. As a result of his expressed discontent with what he perceives as an impotent and dying two-party system, Savage expressed a desire to create a political force which would endorse "borders, language, and culture." During the show, Savage requested that lawyers familiar with the creation of political parties volunteer their services, and also asked for volunteer assistance in acquiring an unused church building in the San Francisco area for use as a party headquarters.
On June 9, 2007, Talkers Magazine awarded Savage with the publication's annual "Freedom of Speech Award," and he accepted it with a pre-recorded speech. Although the award ceremony had received coverage in previous years, C-SPAN did not televise it due to its policy of only televising such speeches when delivered in person. Savage stated that C-SPAN's decision was "censorship" and he told his listeners to express their ire to C-SPAN through calls and e-mails to the organization. On June 15, CEO Brian Lamb, personally hosting C-SPAN's Washington Journal program, showed and recited the contents of a number of the e-mails that C-SPAN had received at Savage's suggestion. Some of these e-mails referred to C-SPAN as a "Marxist-Leninist" entity, called Brian Lamb a "coward," a "homosexual," and a "dickhead," and demanded that C-SPAN's "taxpayer funding" be withdrawn (although in fact, C-SPAN does not receive any such funding).
Critics such as GLAAD, FAIR, and Dave Gilson of Salon.com accuse Savage of fascist leanings, racism, homophobia, and bigotry because of his controversial statements about homosexuality, Arabs, Islam, feminism, sex education, and immigration.
On his July 5, 2007 radio broadcast, commenting on students who were fasting in protest of Congress' failure to pass immigration reform legislation, Savage declared, "I would say, let them fast until they starve to death; then that solves the problem." In August 2007, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors — which had previously commended the student protest — took up a resolution that "condemns the defamatory language used by radio personality Michael Savage against the immigrant community", claiming that Savage had "urged the death of those students." The resolution included a "whereas" clause that made note of a community-organized vigil to take place outside the offices of the KNEW radio station on August 15, calling for the "termination" of the The Savage Nation radio program. The city attorney stated that although the resolution did condemn Savage, it did not violate any of his constitutional rights. The resolution was approved by the board on a near-unanimous vote on August 14, 2007.
Savage sued CAIR for its use, on its website, of excerpts from his show. The suit charged CAIR with copyright infringement and alleged that CAIR's "repackaging" of Savage's comments was "deliberately designed to obscure the specific message conveyed by Michael Savage". The excerpts included Savage's characterization of the Qur'an as "a throwback document" and a "book of hate". CAIR called the suit "bizarre, sloppy and baseless". On July 25, 2008, the United States district court dismissed Savage's suit against CAIR, holding that the posting of the audio clip was protected under the First Amendment free-speech doctrine of fair use as it was used to "comment on and rebut derogatory statements regarding their organization and their religious affiliations. The court gave Savage the opportunity to file an amended complaint if he wanted to try to cure the defects in his suit. On August 14, 2008, however, Savage's lawyer announced that Savage would not file an amended complaint and would drop the case.
In a May 2008 interfaith meeting against bigotry, representatives from numerous religious groups such Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam gathered to urge KCMO (AM), a Kansas City radio station, to drop Savage's program in light of Savage's remarks pertaining to Islam.
Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, "Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot."
On July 21, 2008, several dozen parents and grandparents of autistic children picketed outside the studios of WOR in New York, calling for Savage to be fired and for commercial sponsors to withdraw their advertising from his program. In response, WOR issued a statement saying, "We regret any consternation that his remarks may have caused to our listeners." Also that day, the insurance company Aflac pulled its advertising, and the Supertalk Mississippi radio network dropped Savage's program, replacing it with The Dennis Miller Show. Later that evening, Savage devoted his entire three-hour program to the subject, taking calls from parents who took issue with his comments. He still insisted, however, that his remarks had been "ripped out of context" by "far left Stalinists" who want him off of the air. Additionally, stations in Charlottesville, Virginia, Cleveland, Ohio and Los Angeles, California have dropped the show since these comments were aired.
Two elected officials, both parents of autistic children, had harsh words for Savage's remarks, with Alabama state Rep. Cam Ward calling them "the worst kind of ignorance", and Montana governor Brian Schweitzer saying, "I can tell you who is a brat. That would be Michael Savage, not the autistic people of Montana. Actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, sports radio host Rodney Peete, whose 10-year-old son is severely autistic, also issued a sharply critical statement. On July 25, 2008, Autism United advocates gathered to announce that several advertisers, including Radio Shack, Sears, Home Depot, and DirectBuy, will discontinue their support for Savage's show.
Savage's employer, Talk Radio Network, has responded by releasing a lengthy statement, along with a selection of 20 audio clips drawn from Savage's discussions of autism, all of which has been posted on a new web page.
As Michael A. Weiner, Ph.D., he wrote Herbs That Heal and 17 other books. As Michael Savage, he has written four best-selling books: The Savage Nation, The Enemy Within, Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder, and The Political Zoo.
His 1980 book Weiner's Herbal: The Guide to Herb Medicine advocated the medical benefits of marijuana. However, he has more recently stated that the chemicals in marijuana make it too dangerous to be used as medicine. On his program, he condemns the recreational use of marijuana, occasionally devoting his show to "marijuana horror stories. He has authored a number of other books on various herbal medicine topics under his given name.
In 1991, Savage self-published The Death of the White Male, an argument against affirmative action. In the book he calls affirmative action "reverse discrimination", and demonstrates his emerging philosophy. This eventually led to his starting the Paul Revere Society and he continues to sell the book to raise money for this group.
In January 2003, Savage published The Savage Nation: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on Our Borders, Language and Culture, his first major book under the pseudonym Michael Savage. The book quickly reached the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, earning Savage, as noted above, a commentary show on MSNBC. The book directs attacks at "liberal media bias," the "dominating culture of 'she-ocracy'", gay activists, and liberals.
In January 2004, Savage published his second political book The Enemy Within: Saving America from the Liberal Assault on Our Schools, Faith, and Military. His next book, Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder, was released on April 12, 2005. Unlike The Savage Nation, both of these books cited sources for some of the more controversial claims made.
In April 2006, Savage released The Political Zoo. The book contains satirical profiles and cartoons of different public figures, most of whom are liberal political figures and celebrities, who are depicted in caricature as animals in the "Political Zoo", with Savage himself portrayed as the zoo keeper. Savage has remarked that the book is "easier to digest" than his previous political books.