Home Depot, Sears and Budweiser* all withdrew their support from the fiery hatemonger's program, along with Direct Buy, Cisco and Radio Shack, according to Autism United. (ref)The loss of Home Depot support is no surprise. Co-founder Bernie Marcus happens to sit on the Autism Speaks board or directors. Apparently Savage didn't know this, otherwise he might have tempered his remarks. Perhaps this is just another indication of how clueless he really is. Considering that he once promoted homeopathy, this comes as no great surprise.
A new website was created to defend Savage in this controversy. It gives 20 audio clips of Michael Savage on autism. None of these clips were from his July 16th show, sparking the current controversy. In fact, all were after that show - i.e. these are damage control sound bytes. Instead of apologizing for his inflammatory gaffes, Savage instead criticizes the medical institution. He leaves it to Talk Radio Network to do the apologizing:
As a result, Dr. Savage's comments did facially appear to be directed at children who suffer from autism, and clearly could be perceived as such. This has, in turn, caused understandable pain and distress to those who have a child or family member who is challenged by autism. This was not Dr. Savage's intent, and, on behalf of the Network and all persons associated with the Network, we wish to note that our hearts go out to all families who are forced to face the realities of autism every day of their lives, and to sincerely apologize to these families for any increase in these burdens resulting from inartful commentary appearing in the Network's programming.Inartful commentary? Well doesn't that sum up every single show he's ever done? Talk Radio Network, in the same article, has said they won't fire Michael Savage because they believe they know what he meant to say and his "inartful" comments were just a slip of the tongue...too much pressure, to many things going on in a live radio broadcast, too many things to talk about - mistakes will be made, and this was just one of them. No big deal. But Talk Radio Network is not an objective party in this. Savage is their biggest player with the largest audience. If anything, this controversy might increase his audience size because of a publicity bump (even if it's bad publicity). Savage is one of their cash cows and radio is just a business, right? They would never cut Savage off no matter how hot he made it for them.
As radio stations and sponsors drop his program, as the Talk Radio Network starts to lose the big bucks, it is possible (however remote) that Savage will come out with an official apology to the parents of children with autism. Like I said, it's radio is a business and he's hurting the business by refusing to apologize. But self-serving apologies like these do no one any good because 1) they are always a little too late, 2) their sincerity is driven by the almighty dollar, and 3) everyone recognizes them for what they are.
So, we wonder how far this will all go. Is Michael Savage on the way out? How many stations and sponsors need to drop him before Talk Radio Network fires him? Will Savage apologize and meet with, say, Jenny McCarthy (ala Imus meeting Sharpton)? That would be a hoot. Maybe Savage will even write a book under his real name (Michael Weiner) on how homeopathy can cure autism. That would be a bestseller. And maybe one day someone will write the headline "Savage/Weiner's Bone of Contention".
(*update 7/28 - see comment #1)