Savage Makes a Joke Out of Autism

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Erikka Knuti (202) 756-4135
eknuti@mediamatters.org

Jessica Levin (202) 772-8162
jlevin@mediamatters.org

Savage Makes a Joke Out of Autism

Radio host offers yet another excuse for controversial comments about autism

WASHINGTON - Today, Media
Matters for America
responded to conservative radio host Michael
Savage's assertion yesterday
on CNN that his controversial
comment about autism was "an absurd statement that was made in
jest." Savage previously claimed his comments were "take[n] out of
context," a claim Media Matters rebutted.

"It is unfortunate
that Mr. Savage thinks he can explain away his disgraceful comments with yet
another excuse,"
said Eric
Burns, President of Media Matters. "Autism
is not a joke. The families dealing with the realities of this developmental
disorder certainly didn't think so."

Burns continued: "Each week, Savage spews offensive, over-the-top commentary to
8.25 million listeners. It is time he took responsibility for his words. Savage
owes these families an apology."

BACKGROUND

On the May 7 edition of CNN's American
Morning
, co-host Kiran Chetry asked Savage about his July 16,
2008, statement that
"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." Savage then said to Chetry:
"That's an absurd statement that was said in jest. They understand
that."

Media Matters highlighted
Savage's original comments and documented his response to the widespread
criticism he received:

  • Savage
    on autism
    : "A fraud, a racket. ... In 99 percent of the cases,
    it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out." [July 16, 2008]
  • Savage
    on autistic children
    : "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.' " [July 16, 2008]
  • Savage
    responds to autism controversy
    : "[A] group called Media Matters ...would take out of
    context comments that I made last week directed at the misdiagnosed, the
    falsely diagnosed, and the outright fakers in the autism field and try to make
    you, the parents of the truly autistic, attack me." [July 21, 2008]

Media Matters was
not the only organization that didn't "understand" that
Savage's comments were "said in jest." Several autism
awareness organizations and members of Congress spoke out against his offensive
comments:

  • Autism
    Speaks
    : "One
    important goal of increasing awareness about autism is to foster a greater
    level of acceptance and understanding of the very real and significant
    challenges it poses to individuals with the disorder and their
    families...Unfortunately, there are those who are apparently incapable of
    feeling compassion. They deserve our pity, not our scorn."
  • Autism
    United
    : "While Michael Savage has a First Amendment right to
    express his viewpoints, the belligerence and ignorance of Savage's
    comments are self-evident."
  • Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman for the Coalition
    for Autism Research and Education
    : "After years of
    inadequate funding, the advocacy of the congressional autism caucus and many
    non-profits has helped to realize more than a 5 fold jump in autism funding
    over the past 10 years. We need to continue with this momentum, and these unfortunate
    comments do nothing to help the lives of those suffering with this often
    debilitating disorder."

Talk Radio Network, which syndicates Savage's show, claims
that Savage is heard on nearly 400 radio stations. The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25
million listeners each week, according to Talkers
Magazine
, making it one of the most listened-to talk radio
shows in the nation, behind only The Rush
Limbaugh Show
and The Sean
Hannity Show
.

For more information on
Michael Savage, please visit

http://mediamatters.org/search/tag/michael_savage

###

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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