Radio host Savage slammed for Lantos comments

Conservative talk radio host Michael Savage is drawing fire for comments he made on the air following the death of San Mateo Congressman Tom Lantos this week. One group, the National Jewish Democratic Council, demanded Savage be fired.

Savage, the nation’s third-highest-rated syndicated talk radio host and a Marin Jew, told his listeners Feb. 11: “You’re not supposed to talk badly about the dead. I generally wouldn’t do it. But in the case of Tom Lantos, I’ll make an exception.

“I think he was one of the most —— he was a scoundrel. And I’ll tell you why I detested Tom Lantos. The man survived the Holocaust of World War II and used it as a weapon the rest of his life.”

The liberal Web site Media Matters for America posted an audio clip of the comments.

The NJDC called upon Talk Radio Network, the company that syndicates “The Savage Nation,” to drop the program.

Said NJDC executive director Ira N. Forman, “These latest comments about the late Rep. Lantos are disgusting. Enough is enough. It’s time for all of us who find Mr. Savage’s behavior unacceptable to call upon his employers to replace him with someone who will use their freedom of speech more responsibly.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) also weighed in with a press release, saying, “Yet again, Mr. Savage has shown why he has no shame and no decency, and his remarks are an affront to all decent people. Tom Lantos was a great public servant, humanitarian and educator. He fought hatred and anti-Semitism — like the despicable remarks of Mr. Savage — everywhere.”

The controversy coincides with an ongoing effort to strip “The Savage Nation” of advertisers. Late last year the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), launched an interfaith campaign, Hate Hurts America, to draw attention to Savage comments the group sees as hateful. CAIR is a Muslim media watchdog group that some in the Jewish community have accused of anti-Israel bias.

This week Hate Hurts America announced that ITT Technical Institute, Chattem Inc. (owners of Gold Bond, Icy Hot and Selsun Blue), Union Bank of California, Intuit (parent company of TurboTax and QuickBooks) and GEICO ceased advertising on Savage’s show.

In recent weeks US Cellular, Sprint Nextel, Sears, Universal Orlando Resorts, AutoZone, Citrix, TrustedID, JC Penney, OfficeMax, Wal-Mart, and AT&T also dropped their advertising after appeals from Hate Hurts America.

Savage has fought back. Last November he filed a lawsuit against CAIR claiming copyright infringement because the organization posted Savage audio clips on its Web site. CAIR this week asked a federal judge in California to throw out the suit, calling it “baseless.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.