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Jul 7, 2003  •  Post A Comment

MSNBC Cancels ‘Savage Nation’

“The Savage Nation” has been canceled by MSNBC after the controversial call-in host, Michael Savage, went on a rant Saturday about “sodomites” and said the caller on the air at the time of the live TV tirade “should only get AIDS and die, you pig.”

A spokesman for MSNBC confirmed the cancellation of the show, which had been a lightning rod from the beginning because of Mr. Savage’s unapologetic rhetoric against gays, women, immigrants, affirmative action and other topics and because the hiring was the most extreme sign of MSNBC’s attempt to mimic the right-wing appeal that has made Fox News Channel the No. 1 cable-news network.

Mr. Savage was given the 5 p.m.-to-6 p.m. Saturday show on MSNBC last March despite protests from advertisers (Procter & Gamble, Dell Computer Corp., Casual Male, Idea Village, Cole Media Group, The Sharper Image, Kraft Foods and General Mills disavowed the show) and such advocacy groups as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which monitored his show each weekend.

On Saturday, the subject veered unexpectedly away from air-travel horror when Mr. Savage suddenly said to his caller: “You’re one of those sodomites? Are you a sodomite? So you are one of the sodomites? You should only get AIDS and die you pig, how’s that?”

“You got nothing to do today? Go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis,” Mr. Savage said, also referring to the caller as “You piece of garbage.”

There was no immediate reply to a request for comment from Mr. Savage about the decision to cancel the show in what some insiders said was an acknowledgement that Mr. Savage’s comments were inappropriate.

Mr. Savage was given the MSNBC show in spite of the fact that what had made him popular in the hot-button world of talk radio and as the author of the best-selling “The Savage Nation” was unacceptable according to the standards that govern network television and MSNBC, which is run by NBC News. The network had assured protesters that it would act appropriately if Mr. Savage went over the line between merely distasteful and unacceptable.

After “Savage” was canceled, a spokesperson for GLAAD said: “It’s about time-this latest attack made the clearest case for why Savage has no place on any reputable news network. MSNBC witnessed firsthand exactly the kind of verbal assaults GLAAD has been warning them about for the past five months, and to their credit, they backed up their promises to hold Savage accountable.”

In 15 of its 16 outings since launching March 8, “Savage Nation” averaged 347,000 viewers, which sometimes was enough to lift MSNBC from last place in the time slot but which did not appear to translate into increased viewership beyond that hour. “MSNBC Live” is expected to be extended to fill the “Savage” slot.

E! Orders New Episodes of 3 Series: E! has ordered new episodes of “It’s Good To Be,” “Love Chain” and “Celebrities Uncensored” as part of their summer campaign. The announcement was made by Mark Sonnenberg during the E! conference at the Cable Press Tour in Los Angeles. The new episodes are set to debut this fall.

MT&R’s Batscha Dead at 58: Robert Batscha, president of the Museum of Television & Radio since 1981, died July 4, 2003, in Manhattan at the age of 58. The cause of death was cancer.

Dr. Batscha “significantly expanded the museum’s collection of radio and television programs and advertisements, oversaw the building of the museum’s two facilities in New York and Los Angeles and secured the museum’s place as a renowned institution respected around the world,” Frank Bennack Jr., chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, said in a statement.

Dr. Batscha was appointed to his position by William Paley, chairman and founder of CBS, who also founded the museum. During Dr. Batscha’s tenure, the museum’s collection grew from 5,000 programs to over 120,000, with an increased focus on international programming, advertisements and “lost” programming, preserving the historical and cultural legacy of television and radio for the general public. He is survived by Eric, his son.