Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Savage Nation: Not the British Government's Cup of Tea

One of the many reasons why the formerly entrenched UK Labor Party is in shambles is the decision by politically correct Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to ban San Francisco-based talk show host Michael Savage from British soil. The idea that you would put someone who editorializes in front a radio microphone on the same list as terrorists and others who pose a physical threat to the British populace is beyond laughable.

London Mayor Boris Johnson chided members of parliament for failing to stand up for free speech and denounce Smith's action, yet at the same time condemned Savage's "ugly rantings." Well, if you've ever listened to Savage's amped-up show, The Savage Nation (and no doubt this controversy has boosted his reach both here and in Europe via Internet streaming), it can be hard to take other than in small doses, even if you agree with him on the importance of "borders, language, and culture." And he barely gives the callers a chance to get a word in edgewise, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of talk radio in the first place. But he is a very gifted and compelling--and often narcissistic--monologist, but who in "show business" isn't a narcissist? Putting politics aside, when Savage talks about his Bronx childhood or his day-to-day encounters in the "City by the Bay," he is hilarious. With Savage's scientific training, the listener can also learn about holistic health and nutrition. In a Washington Times profile, a talk radio insider aptly refers to Savage as "a political bomb thrower or a Borscht belt entertainer." So, while Savage's explosive on-the-air demeanor can be challenging to the audience especially after a hard day at work, he's definitely not a one-trick pony. And no one forces you to listen to Savage--or any other media figure for that matter.

The larger issue involving freedom of expression is far more significant. There are efforts on this side of the pond to reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a thinly veiled way to censor conservative talk radio programming. And Smith seems to have the same level of competency as her counterpart, DHS Secretary Napolitano, who was just forced to take down a controversial and misguided report on so-called extremist groups. Oddly, Napolitano is said to be on the short list for the pending Supreme Court nomination.

Although this may be just saber rattling, Savage claimed he is consulting with attorneys about bringing a lawsuit against Jacqui Smith for defamation, but Smith may be protected for one thing by the doctrine of "sovereign immunity" for actions taken as part of her official duties.

Update: Despite the fact that Jacqui Smith has resigned from the rapidly imploding UK Labor government, Savage is going ahead with his defamation lawsuit.