Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"You liberals!"

Recently, I began to allow anonymous comments on my blog. I think I'm regretting it, but maybe not. I do want people to see that it's not just Savage; there are apologists for him who take his garbage quite seriously.

What I'm tired of is this caricature of "liberal". What does the word even mean anymore? I know what Michael Savage thinks it means; he doesn't know the difference between a true liberal and a fascist, as is evident from his labeling of George W. Bush as a liberal/socialist. Bush is a fascist; he is into corporate control of the government and doing things that promote big business. A socialist doesn't do these things. A socialist promotes legislation and action that benefits society as a whole. Just what is a liberal, though?

I did something on liberalism on one of my message boards, but I'm not going to cut and paste.

The Free Online Dictionary has several entries for the term, "liberal". I am going to go through them one by one, because I think it's important that we stop caricaturing liberals--and conservatives, for that matter, because these terms are used to divide us, and they have been made trivial and meaningless by those who work toward such division.

The first definition:

a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian
attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

Sounds like "liberal" is a synonym for "freethinker" here, and I'm of the firm opinion that being free from bigotry is a good thing. Under this definition, I'm definitely a liberal, and an unapologetic one at that.

Savage says that liberalism is a mental disorder. So it's a mental disorder to break from traditional/orthodox/authoritarian views? It used to be the orthodox view that the Earth is flat. It used to be the orthodox view that the Earth was the center of the solar system. Breaking from tradition and orthodoxy can be a very good thing.

Let's look at the second definition:

b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant
of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

Supporting reform for the right reasons is never a bad thing. Being open to new ideas is the only way we can progress, really. Tolerance is a good thing until you tolerate intolerance (which is what apologists for Michael Savage are doing). What's wrong with being tolerant and having an open mind?

The third definition is one of those generic ones: "Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism."

Perhaps it would be useful to define "liberalism", then.

A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of
the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law
with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.

Hmmm. Are human beings naturally good? This article about German researchers who studied altruism would suggest that we are born with altruistic tendencies. It makes sense; being slower, weaker, and less well-armed than the predators in existence when our ancient ancestors first evolved, cooperation would have been a great survival strategy; groups of humans would have found it easier to fend off predators, hunt, gather, raise children, make tools and shelters...cooperation has been the norm for us from the beginning--at least along tribal lines.

I kind of like my autonomy, civil and political liberties, rule of law--as long as I'm represented in the legislature, and protection from people who declare themselves to be in charge ("I'm the decider!").

I also think that it's a good thing for people to come together to solve problems they can't solve individually, and that taxes should be an investment. If we can't get some sort of return from the tax money we invest, we should nix those taxes. I use the word "return" loosely; it doesn't have to be realized financially.

Getting back to "liberal", I'm going to skip the political party definition, because we don't have a major party that's truly liberal. The next definition is:

2.a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.

I think this definition represents part of the caricature of "liberal" that the neo-cons promote and demonize. They don't want the government to just "tax and spend". I know very few people who do, actually, from any political party; it's irresponsible, and would be difficult to justify. I do know plenty of people calling themselves "conservative" (again, caricaturing the term and rendering it meaningless) who think it's just fine that we're in debt to the tune of nearly ten trillion dollars to foreign countries, most notably China. That's $10,000,000,000,000. That's a million millions. That's enough to give 300 million people (roughly the U.S. population) $33,333.33 each. Except we owe that much. Savage calls that "liberal" policy, and he's right to this extent (though he wouldn't put it this way): the Congress from 2002-2006 and the President who signed the spending bills coming from them borrowed liberally from our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, burdening them with debt. Where is the benefit to society as a whole, though? That's where the "socialist" label breaks down with Bush, making it downright laughable. Those spending bills were benefits to corporations and individual political donors, along with every pet project the Republicans wanted to support during those four years. In the meantime, 8,000 people lose their homes to foreclosure each day. People are making roughly $2000 less than they made a few years ago. Unemployment is at an all-time high--if you look at the real numbers. The "official" numbers come from the number of people actually receiving unemployment, which runs out after a certain period of time. Gas prices are outrageous, but oil companies received tax cuts from that Congress and this President. Very wealthy people became even wealthier; the rest of us saw our incomes stagnate or go down, while everything became more expensive.

I don't advocate giving tax money away to anyone; I want it to be an investment. In this respect, I can't really be called "liberal". Giving money to autism research and therapy would be an investment in the future of children with autism; society would benefit from having more functional people working, paying taxes, and supporting themselves.

The problem with the people who throw around the word "liberal" is that they're stereotyping people who happen to disagree with them. I argue that we're all liberal, conservative, or moderate, depending on the topic at hand, and labeling people with one of these terms only marginalizes them and causes division. Let's have some real dialogue and stop with the intellectually lazy caricatures.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Boca Java Responds

Stefanie Hochstadter of Boca Java responded today by saying that Boca Java has not advertised on the Michael Savage show or with the network for more than a year.

I am not reproducing the letter here because there was a privacy notice at the bottom of the email. I know that these notices are not legal and binding, but I've given you the gist: another advertiser is not claiming association with Michael Savage.

Just what is going on here? Only one advertiser so far has admitted to having knowledge of being a current advertiser on the Michael Savage show: They chose not to renew the contract. Geico claimed in a response to me that they advertise indiscriminately, and to another person that they pulled their support for Michael Savage years ago (probably from the MSNBC show he had). Either none of these advertisers know that they've bought advertising spots during Savage's show, or their ads are airing without their knowledge and without payment. The former scenario seems more likely to me, but I would really like to know. Do the stations run advertising during Savage's show to make it appear as though he has more financial backing than he really does?

I wonder if there's a way to find out how the bills get paid at a given radio station.

Geico Responds

I received the following message from Geico:


Dear Greg Reich:

Thank you for your Internet request.

Thank you for using GEICO’s online services.

Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. Let me assure you that we value your opinion and your business.

We purchase our advertising through a national media buyer and it appears on television stations and radio stations throughout the entire country. GEICO has no contract with any specific show, station, or channel. GEICO does not take positions or endorse opinions on stations where our advertising is run.

GEICO has long been, and continues to be, an insurer for everyone. As with any large national insurance company, our customer base is comprised of individuals who represent virtually every position on every issue. We support the first amendment rights of our policyholders and we strive to provide them with exceptional customer service, without regard to their views and beliefs.

If you need assistance, you may reply to this email. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We appreciate your business and look forward to serving your insurance needs for years to come.

Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Brian Moshier
GEICO Internet Representative


Essentially, they're telling me that they do not endorse opinions, but their advertising dollars do just that; as long as Savage has financial support, he has a megaphone through which to shout baseless claims about autism.

The First Amendment rights of their policyholders aren't at issue here. The issue is that someone with national syndication--which is only possible with the support of advertising--is saying something that hurts children with autism and their parents, and Geico is part of that financial infrastructure. They most certainly can choose not to advertise during Savage's show; the association of their company with Savage certainly damages their corporate image, especially as other advertisers withdraw their support.

There was actually a spot on the Savage show tonight calling for entrepreneurs to advertise. I found that plea encouraging.

What I am doing now is writing to the advertisers I actually hear during the show, letting them know what time I heard their advertisements. It reduces the number of responses I get that tell me it's false that they advertise on his show.

Has anyone else received responses from anyone on my list at the right? I know AFLAC allegedly withdrew support, but I have never seen an official response, and I heard a commercial for them the other night.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Inspiration from the North

On July 25th, in the midst of the Michael Savage autism spin, I received an email from Leah Bortolotti from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her daughter, Sophia, has autism. Her son, Josh, has become a prominent national figure in Canada, and he's only fourteen. The following article details what he did at age eleven on behalf of his sister and every child in Canada with autism:


Here is Leah's description of her son's activism to date:

"Our neurotypical 14-year-old son, Josh, has been single-handedly doing an autism fundraiser annually for the past 4 years (door-to-door pledges) and has now raised just over $20,000 for autism charities. The past two years have been for Autism Speaks. He advocates on every level for his baby sister, and has been recognized here in Canada in national newspapers, CTV National Television News, and most recently as a runner up in 2008 Canada's Top 20 Under 20 Awards. His unselfish motivation has graced him with some friendships of important people that are impressed with his accomplishments, and brought more awareness to ASD. He has become friends with Nickelback, Rich Little, and other Canadian celebrities."

I hope this young man's story and that of his family moves you as it has moved me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Want to understand autism?

Maybe an example of a parent working with a child who has autism will help those of you who don't understand what it means to have a child with autism. Take a look:

I thought it was a great example.

I'm thinking of putting video up of exchanges with my daughter. Our communication isn't quite on the level of Adam's yet, but translation of atypical word usage is a daily activity for us, too.

Off the top of my head, figuring out that "Mickey piano" is an episode of Mickey Mouse Club where a piano appears about halfway in was a recent challenge. Good thing I watch any television she watches, and she doesn't watch much.

Ads removed

I decided to take the ads off of my blog.

AdSense has a competitive ad filter, but even though I set it up to filter out the Michael Savage TV ads, it kept putting them into the banner at the bottom of my page. I decided that if I do any advertising from now on, it will be with a known entity, and it will not be random, content-driven advertising.

For me, this fight isn't about making profit.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Audio That Started It All: The Context, What Was Overlooked, The Spin, and The Apologists

Here is the audio that started the whole campaign to remove Michael Savage from the radio. Note that I chose to post a video with the preceding context this time:

Here's the transcript of the preceding context:

"But I'm really getting pissed off at the world. I really am. I feel it. I feel it today in particular. When I hear Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, not giving a straight answer to a real conservative Republican, when I read that Bush just slapped us in the face again, and raised the ante on money to Africa for AIDS and malaria from $15 [billion] to $48 billion with a stroke of the pen, without the people's input, I'm telling you, I don't know which way to turn.

"What kind of government is this that can write checks to bail out friends on Wall Street without any oversight by the people, and can write a check for a bunch of degenerate bums in Africa who are going to rob the money, on top of the drug company thieves? Do you think it's actually going to treat people in Africa? I'd rather treat people in America who have cancer. I'd rather treat people in America who have diabetes. Don't get me started on this!"

When I wrote my original article on Michael Savage's attack on autism, it was based completely on what came next. My argument has been that it doesn't matter what context the audio was in; what he said stood on its own and could not be legitimized. I stand by that assertion, but the context is important in light of the subsequent spin. Before I posted my original piece, I had heard the audio I transcribed for you above, and it was obvious to me that there really wasn't a context; he just said the next thing that popped into his head. Basically, his thought process appears to be "I'd rather treat cancer and diabetes, because they're real diseases. Now I'm going to tell you about something I think is not a real disease and does not deserve funding." I don't know how else to take it.

"I'd rather treat people in America who have cancer."

"I'd rather treat people in America who have diabetes."

The implication of what comes next in the audio is that he'd rather NOT treat autism.

"Now you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket."

In my original article, I mistakenly replaced the "not" with "now", but "not" is the correct word here. He was saying, "I'm talking about funding cancer and diabetes as legitimate diseases that deserve funding, but NOT autism."

Savage is now in spin mode, of course, but remains not only unapologetic, but indignant that anyone could ever think he'd attack children with "real" autism. He made an absolute statement about autism first, then changed the "fraud" to "99 percent of the cases". But first, he went into something that the media is currently overlooking, that the autism community seems to be overlooking, and that the minority communities are overlooking, unless I have just been missing their outrage. I caught this part and gave an opinion on it in my original post, but I want to bring it back up, because I think it's a twisted bit of audio:

"For a long while, we were hearing that every minority child had asthma. Why did they sudden--why was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because--I'll tell you why. The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help at school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in was told [mocking fake cough]. When the nurse looks at you, you go [mocking fake cough]. 'I don't know. The dust got me.' See, everyone had asthma from the minority community. That was number one."

No one has been talking about this venemous little blurb. I mentioned it, but I'm just a small fish in the ocean of the Internet. Media Matters, autism advocacy groups, and several other people transcribed and published it, but somehow, it became lost.

When were we ever hearing that every minority child had asthma? The tragic truth of the matter is that minorities are three to six times more likely to die from asthma than white children, depending on the group studied. I posted a link to an article about African-American and Puerto Rican children in my original post on this issue, and anyone who wants to research it can find plenty on Google.

Savage hasn't had to answer for these remarks. I mentioned them to several of the advertisers in my letters, but the focus has repeatedly been on autism. I'm glad that so many people want to talk about autism and are sympathetic/empathetic to the cause, but I just don't want people to lose sight of how disgusting this assertion regarding minorities and asthma was, and how it's been largely ignored.

Asthma advocacy groups might also want to give that audio some attention.

Moving on, I want to address the spin where Savage is now saying that he wasn't attacking children with "real" autism, and that the "ninety-nine percent" was hyperbole:

"Now, the illness du jour is autism."

In other words, the illness people--probably minorities, given the previous context--are using to get additional funding and academic help for their children is autism.

Savage's naked ignorance is overwhelmingly on display here.

Anyone who has tried to get extra funding in the area of special education knows that most programs are horribly underfunded and, as a result, inadequate. The preschool program my daughter attends does pretty well, but they could use quite a lot more in the way of resources, and the research-recommended approach of intensive, one-on-one daily therapy is impossible in the public school system. I am paying for additional therapy outside of the preschool to the tune of $780 per month, and I know there is a lot more I could do if I had the funds.

In addition to the lack of resources and funding, it's not as easy as Savage seems to think to get the therapy and extra academic help for autsim. A parent can't just say the child has autism; the child must be screened by a group consisting of a speech therapist, a psychiatrist, an occupational therapist, and a physical therapist. My daughter had to meet certain criteria to qualify for special education, and additional criteria to be in the autism class. It's not just a matter of getting a doctor's note or the word of a school nurse. Maybe things are different elsewhere in this country, but quite a few schools are facing funding crises, and funding is being micro-managed. Anything that sucked funding into one area of focus would draw the attention of the school board and would be addressed.

"You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is in ninety-nine percent of the cases."

Savage has told his audience (including me, since I've been listening to the show to gather an accurate list of advertisers) that the ninety-nine percent figure was hyperbole, and that children with "real" autism should get all of the funding and services they need. Now, had he accompanied this spin with an apology, saying that his attack was irresponsible and had no basis in fact, and he wouldn't still be going on about how the autism spectrum is fiction, I may have simply left him alone and forgotten about him. I have heard enough from him during "Right Wing World" segments on the Stephanie Miller Show to know that I wouldn't want to listen to his show (and I still don't, but I'm keeping on his sponsors until he has none or they've all responded). However, placing the spin into the context of his previous remarks, Savage is being disingenuous here. He followed "I'd rather treat people in America who have cancer" and "I'd rather treat people in America who have diabetes" with "Now you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket." How does this juxtaposition NOT imply that he doesn't want to see autism funded through tax dollars? I'm talking about cancer, I'm talking about diabetes, but I'm not talking about autism. That's what he said.

Additionally, Savage claims in his spin-fest that the larger discussion was about drug companies and overdiagnosis of conditions. Now, I missed everything that came before he began to talk about Secretary Paulson, but unless the previous discussion was about how AIDS is also a fraud, a racket, and a largely misdiagnosed condition, I don't see how I can take the spin as anything but a bald-faced lie.

In any case, even if the new figure he's using, allegedly quoting (I can't find the original source) a Dr. Camarata from Vanderbilt University, that sixty percent of autism cases are misdiagnosed, is accurate, it would be difficult for someone whose child was misdiagnosed to get past the screening process at my child's school.

I looked up Dr. Camarata, and I noticed a link for TRIAD, or Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorder. On their Common Questions About Autism Page, it says that autism occurs in 1 in 166 individiuals. Nowhere on the page does is say that sixty percent of cases are misdiagnosed. I emailed Dr. Stephen Camarata to see what he thinks of his name being used on Savage's show in the way it is being used, asking him to susbstantiate or refute the claim. I am awaiting a response.

"It's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is."

So...throwing out the ninety-nine percent as hyperbole and using the new figure Michael Savage now uses, sixty percent of children who have been diagnosed with autism simply have bad parents. He has made the claim, based, I'm sure, on the writing of Thomas Sowell, that the cases where autism is misdiagnosed include children with high IQs and late talkers. It very well could be that this sort of misdiagnosis would have been made quite often before more was known about autism, but there's much more to the observational diagnosis of autism than late talking and evidence of exceptional intelligence. There's more to it than simply having OCD behaviors, which can be part of autism. There's inappropriate play, lack of pretend play, lack of theory of mind/empathy...there is a range of symptoms that, when taken together, result in a correct diagnosis of autism.

The example Savage has been using quite often is Albert Einstein, who was notably a late talker. From many reports, Einstein was told to cut out the act, was called a dummy by his parents, and had a similar childhood to the one Savage recommends for all children. Did it make him speak any sooner? No. Setting aside a diagnosis of autism that Einstein may have faced today, did the parenting method Savage recommends work for Einstein?

Now, going back to whether Einstein would have been diagnosed with autism (there are several people out there who claim that he very well may have had Apergers): the claim Savage makes is that there would be no Einstein today, because he would have been labeled autistic and thrown into an institution. The reality is that during Einstein's childhood, it was much more common to institutionalize people with mental disabilities than it is today, so that argument doesn't hold water.

Also, what is the worst that would have happened if Einstein had received the treatments recommended for autism today? He certainly wouldn't have lost his IQ, would have he? He would have received speech, occupational, physical, and social therapy, all without medication, and he might have had less of a difficult time with his parents and teachers. Would it have caused him not to have gone into physics? Who knows? The theories of general and special relativity probably would have come later anyway; there certainly are scientists who are living today who understand them--they had to in order to build on the theories. Just because a name is a household name (who doesn't know Stephen Hawking? But my understanding is that there are other physicists out there more capable than he) doesn't mean that nobody could ever be as intelligent or capable.

"What do you mean, they scream and they're silent?"

Savage continues to be ignorant about the symptoms of autism, never really defining what he means by "real" autism. Screaming and silence are certainly not the only characteristics of autism. In fact, with Asperger's, the children talk early and incessantly. They have other specific symptoms; I'm sure it's the Asperger's children Savage dismisses as being in the "high IQ" category. In his eyes, they don't really have autism; that's part of his spin.

Let's just say for a moment that everyone with Asperger's just has a really high IQ, and isn't on the autism spectrum. Should they not get any sort of therapy? As someone with a high IQ, I can tell you that going through school without peers of any kind was really, really tough--until I decided to hide my intelligence as much as possible during my high school years. It simply wasn't respected. Really smart kids are often the social outcasts, labeled nerds and regarded as arrogant. Funding programs so high IQ children can have peers in their classes wouldn't be such a bad idea, as far as I'm concerned.

Getting back to reality, people with Aspergers certainly can have high IQs, but there are other symptoms. When I was looking for what could be going on with my daughter, I ran across several professional screening tools for Aspergers. Three of the symptoms that always appeared together were early, precocious talking, physical clumsiness, and social awkwardness. Along with the early precocious talking was the inability of the child to comprehend the speech; it would be scripted, memorized, and only understood later in life. Along with these symptoms had to be the presence of symptoms from each of six categories. I can't remember everything from the list, but it included clues like hand flapping, lack of empathy, lack of eye contact, and several other symptoms that look like autism. That's why Asperger's is on the spectrum.

I will repeat what my friend Angie suggested: take the spectrum people consider "normal", then throw autism on top of it. To me, this statement is a profound way of looking at the autism spectrum. The children may have low, average, or high IQs, but they all have similarities, as well. They are as individual as any other group of children, but they have that one thing or set of things in common.

I know it's not a requirement in order to be a radio personality, but wouldn't it be logical to research a subject before talking about it, especially after making an attack on people who are intimately familiar with it? Savage admitted to lining things up as a child and being obsessed with counting tiles on the bathroom floor, and asked if he would be diagnosed with autism because of that behavior. That's not necessarily autism. OCD behaviors are common on the autism spectrum, but OCD behaviors alone mean that you have obsessive compulive disorder; they don't mean that you have autism.

Maybe Savage is insecure about being labeled as having autism or Aspergers, and that's why he's so irate about the issue. Whatever his problem is (and I'm talking about his insecurity and/or anger issues, not the possibility of him having ASD), he's hurting parents and children by saying that there's one group with a real disability that requires intense treatment, and another group where the problem is bad parenting, but couldn't possibly be a disorder mistaken for autism that also would require treatment. He's still calling the autism spectrum a fraud thrust on the public by drug companies and the medical profession.

"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 screaming and crying, idiot."

Savage has since had an "expert" by the name of Dr. Peter Breggin, who resurrected the long-abandoned stereotype of the "refrigerator mother". Leo Kanner, who defined autism, labeled "cold, unfeeling" mothers as its cause. Breggin's assertion is that all of autism is the result of bad parenting. Michael Savage asked him directly if he believed autism exists, and his answer indicated that he suspected it didn't. If we need any further confirmation, we can turn to his book, Toxic Psychiatry. In chapter 12, which is entitled, "Abandoning Reponsibility For Our Children: A Critique of Hyperactivity, Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, Autism, And Other Diagnoses", Breggin quotes research that links all childhood psychiatric disorders with child abuse and neglect. He goes one to talk about how Leo Kanner described autism as having to do with childhood upbringing--in 1948. Quite a lot of research has been done on autism since 1948! The chapter reads similarly to the quackery of people who denounce other science: the prevailing "ideology" keeps any papers that challenge it out of the peer-reviewed journals. That's why the quacks publish books--their professional peers don't have control over the publication of a book, nor can they stop it from being popular among people outside of the profession.

Apparently, Breggin hasn't updated his research on autism since he published the book in 1994. The American Journal of Human Genetics published an article in 2001 on genetic markers and autism. They found that chromosomes 5, X, and 19 were different in children with autism. Interepreting the findings is complex, but they would seem to suggest that autism has a genetic component. Also, with the multiple questionaires parents of children with autism must invariably fill out when seeking therapy, evidence of abuse and neglect would certainly be caught. A "refrigerator mother" would certainly be unable to talk about every detail of her child's behavior, because she wouldn't be paying attention, now would she?

I resent Breggin's resurrection of the "refrigerator mother" and the insinuation--no, accusation--that autism is the result of child abuse and neglect. My daughter has never, ever lacked affection. She has become quite affectionate with people she knows, but it had to come over time--and it wasn't for lack of trying on our part. I've never had a problem holding her, but I'm one of the very few in her life who hasn't. My wife certainly has no problems getting a hug or a kiss, either. We've never laid a malicious hand on her, either, and wouldn't think of it.

Savage attacked single mothers here, and insulted loving fathers who do take part in raising their children. Never mind that what he's suggesting is that we fathers verbally abuse the children we are around to raise. Discipline doesn't have to involve calling our children morons, putzes, and idiots. There is nothing constructive in this approach, nor is there anything in Savage's statement that would qualify as real discipline. Where is the correction?

Oh, and I can also tell you from experience that hurling insults at your child with autism will result in scripting (if your child is verbal at all), and you'll regret it. I have never verbally abused my child, but she did once wake me up at around 4:30 AM with a blow to my head with her electric guitar (she loves musical instruments, and even sleeps with them). I yelled the worst possible expletive I could yell before I knew what was happening, and she hasn't stopped repeating it. I've even tried to get her to replace it with something that sounds similar (e.g., fudge), but it hasn't worked. My wife once slipped and called her a "crybaby", and now she says it anytime she doesn't get her way.

Road rage is also not good around children with autism who happen to be verbal.

In contrast to my child, my niece learned to say "Bullshit!" when she was two. More accurately, my brother told her to say it, and she started repeating it with glee. I took her aside after seeing that her mother was getting quite embarasssed, and I told her to say "Bullpuckey!" It sounded a lot cuter, actually--but the point is that a parent/caregiver can do this sort of thing with a neurotypical child. Not so with a child who has autism.

"Autism! Everybody has an illness."

This statement comes back to Savage's insecurity about his own childhood behaviors being on the list of red flags for autism, not understanding, as I've illustrated, that it's a combination of symptoms and not one here or there that results in a correct autism diagnosis. Of course, that's if you buy into his spin. It could also go back to his original labeling of autism as "a fraud, a racket."

"If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool.' The worst thing he said: 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and your turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men."

Poor Michael Savage, always acting like a foolish girl as a child, crying his poor little eyes out.

Okay, that might have been a cheap shot, but he deserves it. It's too bad he didn't take his father's advice about not sounding like an idiot.

What if your kid is a girl? I have a daughter. Is she supposed to stop acting like a girl, whatever that means at age 4? Or is it that Savage is only concerned with boys? Or maybe only girls have this thing Michael Savage calls "real" autism, without ever defining it.

I could never take this guy seriously if he didn't have a radio show carried by 300-plus stations (some have dropped him since July 16th). He truly is a reflection of his father's child-rearing methods, though, because he makes a living insulting anyone with whom he disagrees without regard for intellectual dilligence, fact, empathy, or nuance, nor does he ever seem to suggest practical solutions for problems--he just complains about them.

"That's why we have the politicians we have."

Bad parenting is why we have bad politicians? Maybe, but I think that's a separate issue from autism. If 1 in 166 (or 1 in 150, whatever the current accurate number is; I'm using the TRIAD number because it's the most recent I came across) children have autism, that's hardly a majority of people, so it's not much of a voting bloc. That's just a weird conclusion to draw there, Savage.

Finally, we have the apologists for Savage. These people are the reason why I'm going after the sponsors. The apologists have painted him as everything but a simple entertainer to a full-fledged hero of children with autism, and it's making me sick, quite frankly. Here are the things I've been hearing and reading:

"He's just an entertainer."

No, people take him seriously, and say that he speaks the truth. He makes this claim himself. Furthermore, I have to wonder what sort of people are entertained by hearing that liberalism is a mental disorder, autism is a fraud and racket, homsexuals are perveted pigs who should die of AIDS, dissent should be met with arrest for sedition, Obama is a closet Muslim socialist, and the euthanasia of Terri Schiavo was the same as the beginning of the Holocaust. I suppose if no one took him seriously, or if his rants were taken as satire, which is Stephen Colbert's format, then it would be different.

"He wasn't talking about kids who really have autism."

That's what he claims, but that's after he made the claim that autism is a fraud and a racket, leaving a little loophole of one percent who have legitimate disorders. What he's done since is dismiss the autism spectrum, bring on an expert whose work suggests that he believes all of autism is the result of child abuse and neglect, and leave "real" autism undefined. He hasn't done a thing to educate his audience on what constitutes autism. Instead, his focus has been on how he has been persecuted, taken out of context, and maligned by the media and progressive groups--and how he's so heroic for bringing autism to the forefront of public dialogue.

No, Savage, you're no hero. Autism awareness has been growing without you. What you did was turn autism into a misdiagnosis, and you continue to do so by never defining "real" autism (if you say it exists, then you have to know what it is, right?), never educating your audience in any meaningful way on the subject. That's why you have to go.

"Media Matters is just trying to get rid of him before the election."

Media Matters has been pointing out what Savage has been saying for quite some time now. It's not like they made up something untrue about him, either; they simply passed on what he said to the American public. Now, he wants to shoot the messenger. He calls them Stalinists and fascists, which simply aren't compatible political worldviews; he calls them perverted, childless men. Also, to listen to Savage, you'd think Media Matters was the only group coming after him.

I'm coming after you, Michael, and so are a bunch of other parents (I certainly couldn't do it alone). There was no call for what you said, you're unapologetic about it, and we're now having to defend ourselves against your ignorant apologist listeners. I've already spoken to three apologists this week--one who was a listener and two who simply heard about the controversy and thought it had been blown out of proportion. Everyone has an opinion, and when you added fuel to the fire of ignorance, you made it harder for those of us who have children with autism, who are struggling to pay for therapy and struggling to help others understand our children, to gain and maintain acceptance in society.

"There are more important issues."

My child is pretty much at the top of my list of important issues. I want her to have a functional future.

Savage has thrown out references to obscure court cases that haven't been publicized, where someone is already going through the justice system, or has gone through it and the system failed (in his mind, anyway). It's a diversionary tactic, and it's really stupid. You can protest a court all you want; a jury is going to be influenced by the evidence presented in a case, both forensic and testimonial, and by the arguments of the attorneys. We don't try people in the court of public opinion. That's a good thing. We don't want to live under ignorant mob rule. Media sensationalism and political/special interest opinion would destroy anyone's right to a fair trial. Think about the O.J. Simpson case: how difficult was it for the court to find jurors who didn't have knowledge about the case or a firm opinion on it? Activism doesn't belong in the justice system; impartiality and objectivity should be the standard.

I've heard more from Savage apologists, but I think I'm going to end this extraordinarily long post here. My next piece will be more positive and inspirational, I think. I've been indirectly introduced to an extraordinary young man who has been advocating for his younger sister who has autism. The story of his family turns everything Michael Savage has said on its ear, and it moved and humbled me so much, I absolutely have to share it.

Till next time.

The Heritage Foundation Reponds Re: Michael Savage

I received the following email message from The Heritage Foundation yesterday:


Subject: Heritage doesn't advertise on Savage


It came to our attention today that a blog post you wrote last Sunday incorrectly identified The Heritage Foundation as an advertiser/sponsor of The Michael Savage Show. That is incorrect.

We do not now, nor ever have, sponsored or run ads on The Michael Savage Show. Would you mind correcting your blog post to reflect this?

Please let me know if you have any questions.


The Heritage Foundation
Robert B. Bluey
Director, Center for Media & Public Policy
214 Massachusetts Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
tel: (202) 608-6155
fax: (202) 544-6979
mobile: [removed by me]


Once again, we have someone whose advertisements have definitely aired during the Michael Savage show (at 10:21, 10:54, 11:21, 11:54, 12:14, and 12:43 on July 23rd on WDTK, for example), who denies advertising on the Savage show. What is going on?

It is worthy of note that no advertisements from The Heritage Foundation aired during the July 24th show on WDTK in the Detroit market. It is also noteworthy that DMI USA, Roger Schlesinger, Business Software Alliance, AFLAC, and Sears did not advertise on the July 24th show.

There were several new advertisers on the July 24th show. I have already updated the list with them. I wonder if they even know their ads are being used to support Michael Savage.

I did not get the chance to hear last night's show in my market. I had a guest in from out of town. I did get reports from other people and will be updating my list shortly.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reflection on autism diagnosis

Brain physiology is a tricky thing. One may dissect the brain of a cadaver, but observation of actual brain physiology during development is mostly limited to what neurophysiologists can see with electrical activity and MRI/CT scanning technology.

I was reading an article on autism diagnosis when it occurred to me that what is known about the brain are the areas where we should see electrical activity corresponding to various stimuli. Shouldn't children with autism display fairly consistent EEG data? The obvious problem--at least to parents of children with autism--is that getting the child to sit still for an EEG will be a major challenge.

If it is possible to determine which areas of the brain are or aren't firing the way they do in a neurotypical child, shouldn't stimulation of those areas with very low grade electrical shock or through specific physical activities help with the child's issues, at least early on, when the brain is most malleable?

According to Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan, therapy for autism works best when tailored to the individual child--but that's true, in my opinion, of neurotypical children and education, as well. I think that my friend Angie is correct in saying that the reason there is an autism spectrum and the reason it is so broad is that children with autism span the same range neurotypical children do--except with autism added. If that assumption is true, and it seems logical that it is, then there should be some common physiological feature that defines autism--which means medical diagnosis is possible, with treatment that has much less trial and error involved.

Has anyone seen research in this regard?

Just how ridiculous is Michael Savage, anyway?

I just had one thought that came from Savage's show last night. Before some of the segments of his show, they play clips from past shows (Please remember that I am only listening to this garbage to make sure my list of sponsors is accurate, and will never debate him point-by-point). One of those clips involved Terri Schiavo. Savage compared pulling the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo to the beginning of the Holocaust, linking liberals to Nazis in the process.

However one feels about the whole Schiavo ordeal, how could anyone in their right mind compare a euthanasia issue with the wholesale slaughter of millions of people to fulfill the sick fantasy of racial and cultural purity?

I guess if you listen to his show from the perspective of anticipating what ridiculously outlandish thing he is going to say next, it might be entertaining. I just find it disgusting.

Savage keeps saying that his rant about autism was taken out of context. I say that there is no context into which you could put his words to make them any less incendiary, and his subsequent shows have done nothing to make me feel any differently--he still denounces the concept of the autism spectrum as something made up by greedy pharmaceutical companies and doctors, casting suspicion on families whose children have the diagnosis of autism. He's saying that he's defending the defenseless, the children who really have autism, but he's actually hurting them--us, in the case of my family--by labeling autism a misdiagnosis in most cases.

In the time my wife has been on autism message boards (since Caitlin, our daughter, was two) and in the short time I've been on them myself, we have found that the autism community is quite skeptical of doctors (as just about anyone who has dealt with the health care industry will be--I really must talk about my back sometime and the six-month circus that occured before I had any sort of treatment). I encourage such skepticism; therapy for autism isn't cheap. I just dropped nearly $1600 down on classes that meet three days a week for a couple hours each day so my child can receive therapy from professionals. Savage probably would call this therapy a racket, too, but I've seen the progress my daughter has made in this time. She's really learning how to interact properly in social situations in a way that is fun for her. Her clarity of speech is improving. It was a real sacrifice in my current situation to spend that money, but the best research demonstrates conclusively that children diagnosed with autism respond best to early intervention. The longer parents wait, the more difficult it becomes to get the child to respond to therapy.

There is a physiological reason why early intervention works. Anyone who has studied childhood brain physiology (I know, it's a hobby for us all!) and mental development knows that when we are children, we have the ability to form more connections between synapses, known as dendrites. This physiology is the reason why we learn language best before the age of ten--the more connections we make early on, the easier it is to maintain them later. For the child with autism, the earlier the diagnosis, the more malleable the brain will be, and more likely it is that the brain can be "rewired" a bit to get around the issues associated with autism.

With the kind of therapy we're providing for our daughter, even if she didn't have autism, she'd benefit from the social interaction and the mental stimulation. The people who have been involved in her therapy at The Abilities Center in Walled Lake and at the Bussey Center in the Southfield School District have always want to involve the parents, as well; they send us information on what they're doing with Caitlin and how we can help.

I encourage skepticism; I denounce derision. The former is a quality rational, protective, loving parents have where there children are concerned; the latter is a quality Michael Savage has.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The list of advertisers grows--thanks you for your diligence

I was going to respond to things Savage has been saying on his show. I'm so tempted. I won't do it, though. I refuse to feed the troll. I have actually deleted most of this post twice now, because I have gone off on rants that speak directly to his spin. I refuse to debate him. I refuse to lend him that kind of legitmacy. Yes, he's the famous person and I'm just some guy who is the father of a child with autism, but if I debate his points as he makes them, I am only drawing attention away from the effort to get rid of him. We don't need him around. He's perpetuating myths about autism and casting suspicion on anyone with the diagnosis of autism.

He just doesn't get it.

For those of you out there who don't understand the reasons why my blood boils over this issue, and why others are so outraged, let me try to clarify it for you: when Savage claims that 99 percent of the cases where autism is the diagnosis are fraudulant, he casts suspicion on every single child and parent for whom autism is a reality. So now, when I tell other people that my daughter has autism, people who listen to Savage will doubt it. He is trivializing autism, even as he tells his audience that "real" autism is heartbreaking and devastating. He's making the word meaningless to his listeners. He's turning it into the default, catch-all diagnosis for any behavior in children outside of the norm, and that is where the problem really lies.

What I find most ironic is that while those of us who are trying to get him off the air are doing it the way consumers would in a free market, given that it's the only power we would have in the absence of regulation of commerce, Michael Savage is attempting to cast his derision on Media Matters by having his listeners demand tax returns from the organization--he's using government regulation, which is something he normally despises.

In any case, thanks to people who have responded to the call for an effort to log the advertisements on his show in various markets, the list of Michael Savage's advertisers is now more complete. It is going to take some time to update. I urge you to contact every one of them, and if you receive a response, please post it on your blog, and I will link to it from mine, or send it to me so I can post it here.

By the way, Home Depot and Geico, who have both denied advertising on Savage's show, have had five and four commercials tonight, respectively, on the station in my market.

Please keep up the great work, those of you who are writing to the sponsors and those of you who are sending me advertising logs, and those of you who are spreading the word.

My exchange with Home Depot

Home Depot has denied and denounced advertising on Michael Savage's show. Since I heard a Home Depot commercial on his show with my own ears on July 18th on WDTK out of Ferndale, Michigan, I had to follow up. The following is my exchange with the Home Depot representative:


Hi Greg –
The Home Depot does not currently advertise on The Michael Savage Show, nor do we have any kind of sponsorship in place with the program.

We strive to ensure that the programs we support through advertising reflect our core values. Feedback from customers like you plays a large role in helping us to maintain these standards, and this is why already have selected not to be an advertiser on this show.

Again, we do not advertise with this program and any suggestion of such support is false.

Thanks -

Sarah Molinari Corporate Communications Manager The Home Depot


Hi Sarah Molinari,

If I had not heard the commercial on July 18th with my own ears, I would not have written my message. Geico and Prison Fellowship Ministries were not aware of their advertising airing during the Michael Savage show, and neither was Chattem (makes of Gold Bond). As the good representative of Chattem explained, her company buys in local markets, and not directly from shows. If Home Depot buys advertising time on radio stations the same way, it is quite possible for your commercials to air during the Michael Savage show without your knowledge. Again, I urge you to speak to anyone associated with Salem Communications or Talk Radio Network to let them know that you do not want your commercials aired during Savage's show.

I did not hear a Home Depot commercial during last night's broadcast. If I hear another Home Depot commercial, I will let you know. It definitely aired on July 18th sometime between 10 PM and 1 AM on WDTK out of Ferndale, Michigan.

Sincerely,Greg Reich


Thanks Greg –

We have had reports of some NY area customers who claim to have heard an ad last week – is that also where you’re located? If not let me know where so we can check with that station too. We have confirmed that we did not purchase air time for any such time slot in NY (or elsewhere). You see we support many AM radio stations and weekend home improvement programs that run on these stations. Sometimes an ad will run in error during other programming, which we suspect may have been the case here.

Thanks for letting us know -

Sarah Molinari Corporate Communications Manager The Home Depot


Action Alert: The Disability Community Unites Against The Savage Nation and Talk Radio Network

Hello everyone,

As many of you have already heard, this past week talk radio personality Michael Weiner, better known on the air as Michael Savage, made several outrageous remarks in regards to autism, including, "Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket…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." A full transcript of his statements can be found here. Remarks like these spread ignorance about autism and threaten to return us to a previous era where parents were blamed and labeled as "refrigerator mothers" for having autistic children. Not only have Michael Weiner and Talk Radio Networks refused to retract these outrageous comments - they have added to them by claiming, unsupported by science of any kind, that the autism spectrum is an overdiagnosed medical condition. This is part of a broader pattern of statements attacking people with disabilities and our families. It requires a strong response.

As a result of this continued attack against autistic people and the broader disability community, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has joined with over a dozen national and regional disability rights organizations to call on the sponsors of Talk Radio Networks and the Savage Nation to pull their support. Together, we have issued a strong joint statement calling for an ad boycott. In addition, we've collected contact information for several of the major sponsors of Talk Radio Networks in order to empower our community to take further action. We urge you to use the information below to write, call and e-mail these sponsors and tell them why it is imperative they join companies like Aflac and Telesouth Communication that have already pulled their ads in response to these hateful remarks. There are over 50 million people with disabilities in the United States with approximately $200 billion in disposable income. It is time for us to make our voices heard.

Below you will find contact information for Talk Radio Networks' largest sponsors and a sample letter for you to use as a reference point in your e-mails and phone calls. We will be keeping an updated list on our website here and will post updates and changes to contact information as new information becomes available. In addition, if you would like to express your support for the disability community's joint statement on this issue, you can do so by signing our petition here. Organizations wishing to become signatories to our joint statement should contact us at Please distribute this message to your networks and feel free to repost.

Sample Letter:

"To Whom It May Concern:

As a member of the disability community, I am outraged by the recent comments made by Talk Radio Networks' host Michael Alan Weiner, also known as Michael Savage, stating that autism is "a fraud...a racket...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." Not only have these comments not been retracted but Talk Radio Networks continues to stand by Michael Weiner as he continues spreading public misinformation about autism. Autism is a very real developmental disability affecting millions of Americans. Public ignorance and prejudice against people with disabilities represent one of the most significant obstacles to full access and inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society. I urge you to take immediate action and pull your financial support from Talk Radio Networks and The Savage Nation Radio Show in response to these hateful comments."

Contact Information:
ABC, Inc.:
VP Advertising/Sales Mike ShawPhone:
212 456-7272
VP Public Relations
Kevin Brockman
Phone: 818 460-7756
Fax: 212-456-1424

Acura Public Relations
Mike Spencer,

American Express:
Leslie Berland
American Express
P.O. Box
El Paso, TX 79998-1540

Boca Java:
Stefanie Hochstadter
Boca Java
730 South Powerline Rd.
Suite D
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701
Phone: 800-257-8443
Phone: 800-871-0988

851 West Cypress Creek Road
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309,
United States Americas PR

Jason Wyse
Americas Senior PR Manager
Phone: (786) 449-3740
Eric ArmstrongDirector,
Corporate Communications
Phone: (954) 267-2977

Dish Network:
CEO Charlie Ergen:
(303) 723-1010
CEO assistant:
(303) 723-1005

EchoStar Satellite L.L.C.
Attn: Corporate Communications
9601 S. Meridian Blvd.
Englewood, CO 80112

Alan Marks
Senior Vice President Corporate Communications
Telephone: 1-408-376-7400
Fax: 1-408-369-4855

General Motors:
Andrea Canabal
General Motors, Northeast Communications,
Work: +1-914-244-6059,
Cellular: +1-914-391-6898,
Stockholder line: 313-667-1500

Gallo Winery:
John Segale
Gallo Winery Spokesperson
Work: 916-960-5341
Cell: 916-600-1081
Prudential:Bob DeFillippo
Phone: 973-802-4149

Nestlé Purina PetCare:
Phone: 314-982-2577
Fax: 314-982-2752

Simon & Shuster:
Michael Selleck
(800) 223-2336

Staples, Inc:
Paul Capelli,

SUBWAY® Public Relations
(203) 877-4281
Les Winograd Ext. 1683
Kevin Kane Ext.1329

Keyes, Steve
Director, Press and Public Relations
Phone: 703 364 7650
Fax: 703 364 7071

Thank you for your support and please distribute. Our combined activism has and will continue to help us create a world that respects, includes and supports people with disabilities throughout society.

Remember, nothing about us, without us!

Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1101 15th Street,
NW Suite 1212
Washington, DC 20005

Statement From The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

DATE: July 23, 2008


Sheryl Bass or Wendy Greenwald
The SolutionPR
(720) 488-1116

Incensed Disability Groups Call for Ad Withdrawals on The Savage Nation Radio Show

The disability community is livid. In an unprecedented collective advocacy effort, the disability community has come together to call on show sponsors to withdraw their support in response to Michael Savage’s inflammatory, discriminatory, and dangerous comments about autism that he made on his July 16 radio show, “The Savage Nation,” syndicated by Talk Radio Networks. Savage said an autistic child is just a “brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out” and that “99 percent of the cases of autism are a result of lax parenting.” He said parents of autistic children need to say to the child, “Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.” Because Savage absolutely refuses to apologize, and because Talk Radio Networks refuses to act, a coalition of over a dozen disability groups led by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network with the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Coalition for Disability Rights and others are calling on the show’s sponsors to withdraw their support.

Ari Neeman, President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, says Savage’s comments “do real damage to autistic people by increasing public ignorance and misinformation about autism, thereby putting at risk vital education, support and services.”

Neeman added, “There are more than 50 million people with disabilities in the United States, representing approximately $200 billion in disposable income. We represent a market that cannot be ignored. Various show sponsors such as Campbell’s, Staples, Subway, and Purina One are part of the fabric of American family life, and these companies need to stand by American families, including families with special children.”

“We feel this is beyond a free speech issue,” explains Zosia Zaks, a nationally known writer, speaker, and autism advocate. “Other radio hosts have been penalized for racist and sexist comments. These comments are no different in their tone or intent,” she stated in a recent e-mail interview.

The letter to “The Savage Nation” show sponsors will be delivered to them tomorrow morning, Thursday, July 24. To schedule an interview with Neeman about this important discrimination controversy, please contact me at the e-mail address or phone number above.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coordinating Efforts To Contact Michael Savage's Advertisers

In an effort to consolidate the list of Michael Savage's sponsors in all markets, I have created a links section on this page and consolidated the lists I have so far. I would like to involve as many people from as many different markets as possible in this effort until we have responses from every company on the list or Michael Savage is off the air.

Unfortunately, to get a comprehensive and accurate list, some of us must listen to Michael Savage's show. I have found that some lists online include sponsors who have already dropped Savage due to disparaging comments he has made about various groups in the past. Some lists are even from the effort to cancel his old MSNBC show. We must make certain that we are not focusing our efforts on the wrong companies.

What I want to do is have a distribution list of people who want to gather an accurate list of sponsors. Please email me at if you would like to particpate. What I would like to see is a list of companies who are advertising on Michael Savages show with a log of the times the ads aired. We need these lists from as many markets as possible, and if there are several of you in a single market, you can rotate your listening duty. The point is not to get ratings for Michael Savage, but to concentrate on contacting the advertisers.

For those who believe that Michael Savage has a right to say the things he says and that we're demolishing the First Amendment by trying to take away his voice, please remember that we're not trying to regulate him out of the radio market or sue him blind. We are using true market forces to oust him from the airwaves. He absolutely loves the free market, right? Yes, unless it works against him. We are voting here with our power in the market as consumers.

If Savage's listeners want to donate money to keep him on the air, so be it. That's the market at work. We would still no longer have to support his opinion with a portion of the dollars we spend on the goods and services offered by the people who advertise on his program. If he can find enough sponsors to support him, they'll have a limited consumer base and won't be able to compete as successfully in the market.

It's ironic that Michael Savage calls the people protesting him "Stalinists", considering that we're using the power of the market to accomplish our goals.

We must also not lose sight of what he said to launch this effort in the first place, no matter how he tries to spin it.

Chattem, Inc (Gold Bond) Responds Re: Michael Savage

I received the following response from Chattem, Inc, this morning:

Let me start by telling you how much we appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts about the Michael Savage Radio Show. Chattem has been in business for over 125 years, and in that time, we have learned to listen to our customers above everyone else. It is through feedback such as yours that we attain a real time understanding of the sensitivities and concerns of consumers.

In response to your email, you should know that Chattem does not purchase any advertising from nor is a sponsor of the Michael Savage program.

While commercial air time may be indistinguishable to most listeners, there are several ways for advertisers to acquire commercial air time. Chattem chooses to buy commercial air time that is supplied by the local radio stations rather than commercial air time that is supplied by national programs such as Michael Savage, Rick Dees, Liza Gibbons, etc… Generally, the commercial air time purchased by Chattem sponsors the local news, weather and traffic reported to listeners by a local radio personality. Sometimes Chattem advertising copy is delivered by a local radio personality. Other times the local radio station plays a pre-produced advertising script just after or just before the local news, weather, and traffic report. In all cases, Chattem advertising is occupying commercial air time that was the property of the local radio station rather than the national program that is being broadcast. We have requested that the local stations not air our advertising during his show.

Again, thank you for your comments.

Dawn Simpson
Consumer Affairs
Chattem, Inc.


What Dawn Simpson is saying here is similar to what I guessed the situation to be with advertising on the radio; most of the companies aren't even aware that their commercials are being aired during Michael Savage's show, and want nothing to do with him. If they make the extra effort to ask the stations not to air their commercials during Savage's show, that's great.

Update on Michael Savage Advertisers

As I have noted in previous posts, Breakpoint (a subsidiary of Prison Fellowship Ministries) and have both denounced Michael Savage's comments, and the comments from Home Depot demonstrate that they were unaware that their advertising dollars were supporting Michael Savage.

I have yet to receive a response from the rest of the sponsors I've listed.

Here are some advertisers I heard tonight, some with one time at which I heard them. Since I received Home Depot's message that said any statement that charged them with advertising on the Michael Savage show was false (even though I heard it with my own ears), I began to take down a sample time. I invite any representative from the following companies to listen to Michael Savage's show to hear their own commercials (in my market, Savage airs from 10 PM to 1AM on WDTK AM), so the times will differ from that of his live broadcast).

Priceline (11:32 PM):

Bullfrog Sunblock (didn't record time): (didn't record time):

Business Software Alliance (didn't record time): or

Swiss America Trading Corporation (11:34 PM):

*NOTE: Michael Savage read a letter on the air from Craig Smith, the CEO of Swiss America, who supported him in his efforts, gushing about how "God is pleased" with the work Savage is doing.

Barracuda Networks

Of course, there were some of the usual suspects:

DMIUSA (11:48):

Geico (11:33):

The Heritage Foundation (11:47) (they advertise more than anyone)

FreshStart America (11:48) (They said that their contract is up with Savage at the end of the week, and they will not renew it.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Home Depot Unaware of Advertising on Michael Savage Show

I received the following response from Home Depot:


Dear Mr. Reich,

Thank you for contacting The Home Depot Customer Care in this matter. The Home Depot does not currently advertise on The Michael Savage Show, nor do we have any kind of sponsorship in place with the program. We strive to ensure that the programs we support through advertising reflect our core values. Feedback from customers like you plays a large role in helping us to maintain these standards and I really appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention. Again, we do not advertise with this program and any suggestion of such support is false.

In fact, one of our company?s founders, Bernie Marcus, is very active inthe effort to build awareness and raise funding for autism research. We join him in this effort and have supported several of his campaigns. Learn more about his programs for autism at <>.

Thank you for your interest in The Home Depot.



Customer Care.


It's not surprising that they are not aware of how their advertising dollars are being spent; Home Depot most likely made the deal at the level of Talk Radio Network or some other level that had nothing to do with the Michael Savage program directly. However, the fact is that I heard the commercial myself on July 18th. It makes it all the more urgent that Home Depot demand that their advertising dollars not be used to support Michael Savage. Responds Re: Michael Savage

One Sara Shragal sent me a message on behalf of


Good afternoon Mr. Reich,

Thank you for writing with your feedback about DirectBuy's sponsorship of Michael Savage's radio show. Like you, we at DirectBuy were surprised and saddened by Mr. Savage's comments.

Our contract with the Michael Savage radio show is up at the end of this week, at which point DirectBuy will no longer be a sponsor of the show.

Again, thank you for writing to me with your feedback. Should you have any additional concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Kindest regards

Sara Shragal

DirectBuy, Inc.


This is good news.

At time of this writing, Michael Savage is shifting the discussion from his venomous words to overdiagnosis of autism. He has backed away from his claim of "99 percent" to "58 percent", based on information from an "expert from Vanderbilt University".

It doesn't matter. What he said is inexcusable. As a communications professional, Michael Savage should know how what he said would be taken by the parents of children with autism. He also should know that what he's saying will hurt those who are in real need.

Breakpoint Responds Re: Michael Savage

I have not received a response as to whether or not I have permission to post the messages from Breakpoint yet, but I think it's important that people know how they responded. I received two messages from them. One was in response to my direct message to them; another was a response to my posting of a link to their website in this blog in the list of advertisers who support Michael Savage.


Prison Fellowship Ministries wrote:

Greg Reich,

Thank you for contacting us with your concern. We are glad you have written us and would like you to know that we do not sponsor Michael Savage in any way. We are very interested in learning how you obtained this false information. We are very concerned. We don't want to give anyone the impression that we support Savage in any way, or agree with his views on autism in any way. If you can help us by letting us know any further details we'd be grateful. Simply respond through email and we'll do our best to correct the information out there as soon as possible.

Mr. Colson's view of autism is evidenced by the many times he has addressed this issue in our BreakPoint Commentaries, often speaking about his love for his own grandson Max who has autism and the difference Max has made in Chuck's life. You can find these commentaries here:

Thank you for any help you can give us in this matter. God bless.

In Christ,

Ministry Service Representative



Message #2:

Dear Mr. Reich,

In regards to your recent blog listing BreakPoint as an advertiser for the Michael Savage show, please know that BreakPoint does not advertise on the Savage show. In fact, we don't do paid advertising. Most likely what you heard was your local radio station promoting BreakPoint during the Savage show-that's something BreakPoint doesn't control. We never request to be promoted during any specific show.

As we mentioned in our previous response to your email, Mr. Colson has an autistic grandson who is near and dear to his heart and Chuck has been an advocate for children with disabilities. He has offered commentaries on this subject which you can find here:­&x=12­&y=4

You can be certain that we'd never support Mr. Savage's position. We would very much appreciate your removing BreakPoint from your list of Savage sponsors, especially since we have and will continue to speak out about the God-given dignity of autistic children and of every human being.

In Christ,

Ministry Service Representative



I think they've made it quite clear that they do not want to be associated with Michael Savage in any way, as I expected. It is my sincere hope that pressure from PFM will actually draw a public apology out of Savage, but I won't hold my breath--Savage isn't the apologetic type.

Update on Michael Savage

I have attempted to contact all of Michael Savage's sponsors to make them aware of what their advertising dollars support. Most of them are not companies or organizations I patronize, but a few are larger, and one, Home Depot, is a place I've visited regularly in the past. I will not patronize Home Depot until they pull their support from Michael Savage's show.

DMIUSA has a full email inbox. I hope a lot of people had the same idea I did.

I have to be honest: I skipped one sponsor. I didn't try to contact, because just as I was looking for contact information, I ran across an article about how autism is over-diagnosed. Besides, Ann Coulter's one of their columnists. If they like her, I'm sure Michael Savage is no problem for them, either. Pointless, hate-filled rants are their specialty.

According to a New York Times article, Savage is standing by his remarks on autism. However, he's shifting the discussion to a broader point of "autism is over-diagnosed". I truly hope nobody lets him get away with it, but I know the gutless mainstream media will not bother to do any research, and he'll get away with all of he disparaging remarks he made.

He attacked children with autism and their parents. Let's not forget that.

He also attacked minorities, implying that they were all on welfare and all minority children were dishonest about asthma--something they die from three to six times more often than white children with asthma.

There was nothing factual in his claims about autism. The only number he cited was "99 percent", in reference to the number of cases where autism is simply a "brat who hasn't been told to cut out the act." If anyone in the media interviews him--and I'm told Good Morning America will--they should have a good set of facts handy and, ideally, a group of parents with their children who have autism. This last would be difficult for most parents dealing with autism, I know--my kid wouldn't want to be in such an alien situation, and might have a meltdown--but I'd love for Michael Savage to look at the faces of autism and try to stand by his remarks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Michael Savage picks on my daughter

Media Matters brought to my attention that Michael Savage, a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host who reportedly ranks third among right-wing talkers behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, made some disparaging remarks about children with autism and their parents recently, saying that in 99% of the cases, it's just an act, and there's no father around to straighten them out, and, basically, verbally abuse them. For his full comments, play the audio below:

I was so angry when I heard his comments, that I decided to listen to his show to find out who sponsors him, so I can let them know just what sort of nastiness their advertising dollars support. My hope is that they withdrawal their support, and he loses his radio presence.

I'm going to parse his comments here, because Savage didn't just pick on children with autism, but on several groups at the same time:

"Now you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm now talking about autism? A fraud. A racket."

Did Michael Savage ever see the movie, "Rain Man"? Dustin Hoffman's character, Ray, was an autistic savant. Hoffman's research for the character was based on a real person, Kim Peek.

Autism manifests itself in many ways, with varying severity and ability to function. With my daughter, it's hand-flapping (diminished with therapy), spinning and watching objects spin, inappropriate play, inappropriate reactions to questions, an aversion to wet foods, sensitivity to certain noises, and obsessing about music and musical instruments. She also fits the profile of a hyperlexic, which means that she could read before she could speak, but didn't comprehend it, and probably won't for another year. She was mostly non-verbal until she was two, and she still doesn't have conversations, though she can sing whole songs, repeat whole passages from videos she has seen, and communicate her wants and needs to us.

Caitlin was less than a year old when my wife, Heather, noticed that something wasn't quite right, and she was around fifteen months when it really became noticeable to everyone else. She'd been developing normally, then she stopped. She didn't babble like other kids, stayed in her own little world, hand-flapped when she was excited, wouldn't make much eye contact or respond to her name...there were all sorts of clues. Autism only came up after our own extensive research, and an exhaustive pursuit of a correct diagnosis. I searched through peer-reviewed research on autism, used diagnosis surveys that the doctors used, and had her go through tests with professionals. There is no doubt that my daughter has Pervasive Development Disorder, which is on the autism spectrum. There is also no doubt that when I go to her preschool, the children I encounter there have autism, as well.

While there may be people out there trying to scam parents of children with autism, Savage isn't going after them. He's not using his radio presence to help protect parents from unscrupulous opportunists with snake oil cures. Instead, he attacks the parents and the children. First, however, he goes after racial/ethnic minorities:

"For a long while we were hearing that every minority child has asthma. Why was there an asthma epidemic among minority children? Because...I'll tell you why: the children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in was told [sic] cough-cough-cough. When the nurse looks at you, go cough-cough-cough, 'I don't know, the dust got me.' See, everyone had asthma from the minority community. That was number one."

There's a whole lot going on here. Savage states as fact that "we" were hearing how every minority child has asthma. Really? When was that? I don't recall it. He's a lot older than I am, so maybe it was a few decades ago, but my suspicion is that he made it up out of whole cloth.

As far as children getting extra welfare if they had disability is concerned, it's not as simple as telling the government that your child has a disability, or faking a few coughs (does this guy know anyone with asthma?) in front of the school nurse. And where is he getting the idea that asthmatics get extra help in school? I knew three kids with asthma through my school years, and not one of them received special academic treatment for their condition. They did get permission to skip certain activities in gym class, but that's about it.

What's most disgusting about the claim Michael Savage is making is that black and Puerto Rican children in New York, for example, die six times more often than white children with asthma. Black children have asthma at a thirteen percent higher rate than whites, and Puerto Rican children have it twenty percent more often. You might be able to put something over on a school nurse once in awhile (I simulated a contagious rash when I was in sixth grade by having a friend slap me on the arms, and was sent home for it), but hospitalization and death for serious asthma attacks? That's quite another matter. Equally disconcerting are the facts that Savage is implying that the entire minority community is on welfare, and that they are all dishonest enough to have their children fake a medical condition. Savage's assertion here is racist to its core.

Savage returns to autism at this point:

"Now, the illness du jour is autism."

I'm not going to give Michael Savage an inch here. As someone with sponsors, as someone who bills himself as trained in science, as someone with a national platform from which to speak, he should know better than to speak before he researches something. For the rest of the people out there, I have to forgive this line of thinking a little (though intellectual laziness is one of my pet peeves). In this day and age of rampant pharmaceutical advertising, we hear about diseases that just don't sound like diseases. I'm highly skeptical of restless leg syndrome, for example, and I think irritable bowel syndrome could have a dietary treatment--though I am not going to pretend to be a neurologist or gastroenterologist and tell you for certain that these issues aren't valid medical conditions. I definitely don't know enough about them to get onto a nationally-syndicated radio show and label them fraudulant. If I ever found myself with either of these conditions, I'd do extensive research and seek medical treatment.

In any case, when my wife first suggested that autism might be what's different about our daughter, my reaction was to be skeptical. I knew what classic autism was, but the autism spectrum seemed to include far too great a range of behaviors to be under one category. However, I was focused on the differences and not the things children with autism share in common. It was a friend, Angie, who put things into perspective. She said, "Think of the range that is considered 'normal'. Think about how broad that is, then add autism." It made total sense, and once I began looking at it from that perspective, I saw the common traits, seeing the differences in my child as the differences any child should have from another.

The recent surge in autism diagnoses has several possible explanations: vaccine preservatives (thimerosal), older parents, better diagnosis techniques...but to say that it's the illness of the day is to imply the possession of knowledge about autism and examples of fraudulant diagnosis. If Savage has such evidence of fraud, I'd love to see him produce it.

Savage: "You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is in ninety-nine percent of the cases."

I want to know what research Michael Savage has done or has seen that gives him authority to speak on ninety-nine percent of autism cases.

Savage: "It's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is."

I'd say what's really on my mind, but I'm trying to keep this particular post PG. My kid's not a brat. She's not spoiled, she's disciplined as well as she can be without actually being able to have a meaningful conversation, and she doesn't act up all that much. She's a happy child, a silly child, a child with a love for music, swimming, family, words, and numbers, and yes, occasionally, she acts up. Has she been told to cut the act out? She has been told to cut it out, but she's not acting. She truly becomes uncomfortable and frightened in situations where there is a lot of noise and crowds--if it's a new place. She's fine in the mall or a familiar restaurant, but not in an unfamiliar restaurant or a party. A neurotypical "brat" can tell you what is setting him/her off; with a child with autism, it could be just about anything, and they often can't tell you in the "normal" way. It's frustrating, embarassing (more for my wife than for me), and hard on a marriage. The vast majority of the time, my child with autism is not a "brat", by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't appreciate the attack on my child.

Savage: "What do you mean, 'They scream and they're silent."
Wow, what a wonderful clinical definition of autism. Bravo, Savage. You really hit the nail on the head.
Smell the sarcasm?
Some scream, some flap their hands, some spin, some bang their heads against the wall, some have obsessive-compulsive behaviors, some line things up incessantly, some are completely non-verbal, some obsess with letters and numbers, many make little or no eye contact, most won't respond to their names when called; most are combinations of a lot of these characteristics. Seizures are common. Some are extremely picky eaters. There is a whole range of behaviors and developmental differences unique to children with autism. "What do you mean, "They scream and then they're silent?" What a flagrant display of naked ignorance and intellectual laziness.
Savage: "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."
Way to attack the mothers and the kids at the same time, there, Savage. If the father is around, like I am, the implication is that his parenting skills are lacking as well.
There's so much packed into this insult. The first implication is that autism is the result of single mothers raising children. If there's no father around, we're talking about children of single mothers, right? There's no autism; it's just that single mothers aren't doing an adequate job raising their children. That's the message we're suppose to ascertain here, isn't it?
When I heard this part of the audio, I had to ask the question, "Does Michael Savage have children?" Other than the "Straighten up" part, and, arguably--though not applicable to my daughter--the "Act like a man" part, what Savage is suggesting fathers say to their children is nothing short of verbal assault--and on a child with autism. For Savage's information, since I have a daughter with autism, I have heard parents speak this way to their children, and it doesn't work. You can scream till you're blue in the face, and you'll end up looking like the moron/putz/idiot, because in the end, you'll still have an inconsolable, screaming child. Savage may or may not suggest smacking a child, but I know of parents who have been there, too. I'm against corporal punishment for my own reasons, not the least of which is that I've never heard of it actually working on neurotypical kids, other than anecdotally, let alone children with autism. It's a great way to have your child end up fearing you and withdrawing into isolation, which will only hinder progress--if not halting it entirely--and turn the child into an adult who can't function well in society.
Back to the part about whether Savage actually has children: yes, he has two. They're grown. His son founded a company and his daughter is its CFO. Only they can speak for how well they were raised. Whatever the case, I don't have to verbally assault my daughter to discipline her when she does something she knows is wrong. I simply show her what she did wrong, show what is correct, and I move on. Eye contact is essential--and we had to work hard on the eye contact at first. Now, I have no problem getting it. Most of the time, my daughter listens, and I'm lucky--it wasn't always that way. It doesn't change the fact that I need to put her through expensive therapy to help her with her developmental delays, which are mostly related to social skills, especially conversation. I wish Savage knew the pain of a father who can't have a conversation with his child, not because she's being a brat, but because she's unable to understand the concept of meaningful, two-way verbal exchange. She's progressing, but it's still going to take work. Imagine all of those parents out there who can't pay for therapy.
Savage: "Autism--everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, 'Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry.' That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training."
Ah, yes, and you turned out so well, didn't you, Michael? Attacking children with autism and their parents makes you into a real man, doesn't it? Since I began researching this guy so I can do something about him, I've found that he attacks women, homosexuals, liberals (or, rather, a caricature he draws of liberals), minorities, immigrants, protesters, Muslims, and anyone else who happens to draw his derision on a given day. He cites very few facts and makes very few valid points, as far as I can tell, but I'm only going on the one show I've listened to so far and the transcripts of the several shows where he's attacked all the groups I've mentioned. Looks like he didn't take his father's advice about acting like a fool or sounding like an idiot.
By the way, my father wasn't a wimpy guy by any stretch of the imagination. My brother was still of the opinion that my dad could kick his butt well into adulthood. He did go negative a bit like Savage's father, but he also taught me positive things: family cohesion, hard work, loyalty, perseverance, and self-reliance. One thing he'd never do is call my daughter with autism a moron, putz, or idiot. He used to say to me, "You're so smart, but you're so goddamn dumb," when I did something of which he didn't approve (acknowledging my academic prowess, but pointing out a moment of perceived stupidity or momentary lapse in common sense), but where my daughter is concerned, he recognizes that there are issues that can't be addressed in the same manner in which he addressed his kids. He tells me that my daughter will come along if we work hard with her and get her therapy. Where's the disconnect with Savage? Oh, yeah--my dad has actually seen a child with autism. Michael Savage hasn't.
Savage: "You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have."
Using "girl" as an insult here aside (Savage says diragatory things about women all the time), is Michael Savage really blaming parents of children with autism for the state of affairs in this country? I think he was broadening the subject here to include all parents who don't verbally assault their children, but the connection between this statement and autism only exists in the mind of Michael Savage, and perhaps people who think like him.
I wouldn't have posted this piece without suggesting some course of action, because I absolutely can't stand giving people like Michael Savage any undue attention. However, he allegedly has around ten million listeners, and, while we may or may not be able to reach them or change their minds, we can spread awareness of what autism really is, and, in the meantime, we can hit Savage in the wallet.
Some people have suggested complaining to the FCC. If someone can point out something Savage did to violate FCC regulations, by all means, take this course of action. I seriously doubt you'll find such a violation.
Some people have suggested to simply change the channel, and not to listen to Savage. I agree. Don't listen to Michael Savage. I'll do it for you so I can contact his advertisers and you can do the same. However, he already has dedicated listeners. As I've mentioned, he ranks only behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity among right-wing talkers. I only listened to his show last Friday for the first time because I wanted to find out who sponsors it. During that show, he disparaged anyone who wanted to see the new Batman movie, he called Heath Ledger a junkie, and he called anyone who wanted to visit a Presidential library a "yokel". Most of his rants were pointless and rambling; it's a stream-of-consciousness style that sort of meanders without any meaningful structure.
In any case, Savage has listeners, and some, maybe even most, agree with him. These people vote, and they talk with other people who vote. We may or may not be able to reach the listeners of Michael Savage, but through education of enough people, we can relegate those who think like Savage or follow his lead to the lunatic fringe, where they belong.
The more imporant thing we can do is make his advertisers aware of what Michael Savage is saying, and let them know that as consumers or potential consumers, we would be less likely to buy from them if they continue to support such disparaging speech. For those who say that this sort of pursuit sounds like censorship and is contrary to the First Amendment, please understand that freedom of speech does not translate into freedom to say anything you want on the radio, because that freedom is dependent completely on who will pay for you to stay on the air. Remember also that every time you go to Home Depot, or you buy insurance from Geico, or you use Gold Bond Medicated products, or you use Wachovia Bank, some small part of your money is supporting Michael Savage's venemous speech.
Furthermore, Savage is representing the radio network of which he is a part. What he says is a reflection of that network, and they should act accordingly. Do they support such speech? It's not just offensive; if all it did was offend me, I wouldn't have written this post. What Michael Savage is saying actually can hinder efforts to obtain funding for autism research and for special needs classes children with autism attend in our public schools. It can damage parents emotionally if the people around them treat them the same way Savage did on the air, and they can't change the channel in these cases.
If Savage can find enough funding to remain on the air after his major sponsors drop him, all we can do is educate the public as much as possible, which we should be doing anyway. In the meantime, here is a list of his sponsors and their websites:
Digital Media Inc., U.S.A.:
Nevada State Corporate Network, Inc.:
Roger Schlesinger, the Mortgage Minute Guy:
Home Depot:
Gold Bond:
FreshStart America:
Heritage Foundation:
Breakpoint: [Link removed; see "Breakpoint Responds Re: Michael Savage]
Debt Consultants of America (snail mail and phone number listings):
DirectBuy: [See " Responds Re: Michael Savage"]
The list above includes only the sponsors who advertised during the show I listened to on Friday. I will continue to listen for sponsors as long as it takes.