Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Absolutely The Best Radio Show Host of the Week: Neal Conan, of National Public Radio!!!

Today, while zipping down the road to pick up some lunch, I was, as usual, tuned to National Public Radio (NPR). "Talk of the Nation," hosted by Neal Conan, was on.

Before I even knew for sure what the topic of discussion was, the person Neal was talking with (obviously by phone) was already grating on my nerves. His tone of voice and demeanor bespoke arrogance and ugliness.

He was belligerent and berating with Mr. Conan, and accused the host of "lumping him in with" the terrorists that are listed as unwelcome in Britain... then it hit me:

is Michael Savage that Neal Conan's speaking with!

I didn't recognize his voice because I don't listen to him. There are enough unpleasant things that I have to deal with every day, so (being
no masochist) I decided long ago that there is no need to subject myself to some of them voluntarily.

Having already caught the news online earlier in the morning, I was aware that the very disagreeable Mr. Savage had recently been declared persona non grata in Great Britain.

In a sound bite played by Conan, British Home Secretary Jaqui Smith said (in reference to Mr. Savage), "I don’t think free speech should be a license for people to preach or to promote hatred or to exhort other people actually to carry out criminal acts."

Savage ranted at Conan a bit, defended his own right of free speech, and then denigrated British Home Secretary Smith as
an "abject clown."

"Hmmm," I thought. "Savage goes straight to the ad hominem attack, not actually discussing the issue at all."

Though I knew that listening to Savage was likely to make me want to break something, I decided I'd tough it out, it could be amusing listening to Neal Conan spar with him.

Before the program got very far along, however, an amazing thing happened.

Neal opened the line for callers, and... oh, heck.

Here's the transcript. Yeah, I paid NPR $3.95 for it.

Read it yourself (all emphasis is mine):

CONAN: Let’s see if we get a caller in on the line. 800-989-8255, email: talk@npr.org. Our guest is Michael Savage, the host of “Savage Nation,” learned earlier today that he’d been banned from entering the United Kingdom.

Jeffrey is on the air. Jeffrey is calling from Des Moines, Iowa.

JEFFREY (Caller): If you listen to Michael Savage - if every time he says Islam or Muslim, you insert either Jew or Christian, he would be off the air in one day. I’ve had…

Mr. SAVAGE: Wait! I don’t want to listen to this foaming lunatic. I came on the air to give you my opinion, not to listen to someone in pajamas in a mental asylum in Iowa. So if…

(Sound of laughter)

JEFFREY: You know…

Mr. SAVAGE: No, no, you listen to me. You’re a nobody!

JEFFREY: (Unintelligible)

CONAN: Michael Savage?

Mr. SAVAGE: You’re nobody and I’m not going to talk to you!

Now, Neal, if you’d like to continue the discussion, I’ll do so. Otherwise, I have more important things to do than talk to someone in pajamas in an institution in Iowa.

CONAN: Then go do them, please.

Mr. SAVAGE: Thank you. (click)

Neal Conan, Host of "Talk of the Nation," tells Michael Savage, asshat extraodinaire, to piss off and go away!

Neal Conan- You Da Man!

To my local station:

My membership check is on the way. This exchange alone was worth the price of admission.


Matt Osborne said...

Linking NOW.

Jeffery Wagscot Conspiracy-Monger said...

"I thought democrats were the big tent party! How could Neal Conan be so intolerant of Michael Savage's intolerance?"


Anyway, that was teh awesome.

Wolfe Tone said...

Yeah, it was also amusing to see how Michael Savage is all for free speech - unless you disagree with him... then you should STFU!

Brian Krenz said...

The sad thing is that Savage probably really believes he was wronged. People like that can twist reality to support their views no matter how convoluted things get.

Good for Conan for laying the smackdown.

Bukko_in_Australia said...

Everything Weiner (his real name, as most Savage-haters know) says is psychological projection. "Foaming lunatic"? "In pyjamas at a mental institution"? That's HIM! The characteristics he despises in himself, he projects onto others. Reich-wingers do it all the time.

Catie said...

Oh my. That's quite brilliant.

Anonymous said...

@wolf...dont think I have told you before, but I am enjoyning your blog.


Anonymous said...

Free speech was often attacked during the 1980's by right wing religious kooks, now the attackers of free speech seem to come from the left. Is liberal becoming the new fascist?

Wolfe Tone said...

Dear Anon:

Who, in my entire post, attacked free speech?

The subject of my post, Neal Conan, certainly did not.

While Mr. Savage has the right to freedom of expression, Neal Conan is not required to provide a soapbox for him.

In fact, Conan afforded Mr. Savage an opportunity to present his views, and Mr. Savage, instead, chose to be obnoxious, abrasive, and insulting.

Conan is not required to tolerate an asshat like Savage... he can go scream crazy shit on his own radio show.

Being deemed an "undesirable" in the UK is not a suppression of any of Savage's rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.

I firmly believe that Michael Savage has a perfect right to practice free speech in the United States, or any country that will permit him to do so.

That being said: As the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted: The right to free speech doesn't extend to falsely shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater.

In my opinion, what Michael Savage practices is almost uniformly hate speech, and is perilously close to the "FIRE!" threshold - in other words, it is both false, and may well present a danger to the safety of others.

Kevin said...


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