There have been numerous calls in recent days for Michael Savage to be fired or suspended for his commentary concerning autism during the 7/16 broadcast of the show. Promptly after TRN CEO Mark Masters learned of the comments, he contacted Savage, who explained the circumstances and intent of his statements, said they were not directed at those who are in fact challenged by autism, but to note that there have been efforts by professionals and professional organizations to expand diagnoses of autism more broadly, for various reasons, and his concern that this victimizes and stigmatizes children who are misdiagnosed as autistic.
Said Masters in a statement issued yesterday: “I have known Michael Savage for nine years now. Over those nine years, we have had occasion to disagree on many issues. However, I have always respected Michael as a man of conviction, and I have noticed throughout our relationship that he has always been passionate and intense in his opposition to persons who he perceived to be disrespectful of persons dealing with special challenges. I once asked him about his passion in this area, and he noted that it was because he had a brother who was disabled, but that he did not want to discuss it. Michael never shared any particulars on this with me until he shared with his audience on Monday that his brother never spoke during his lifetime, was institutionalized at 5 or 6 years old, and died in that institution in his 20’s.
My observations of Michael’s consistent opposition to what he viewed as abuse or disrespect of persons dealing with special challenges, and of his interest in children, as well as his 1982 book, Healing Children Naturally, are completely inconsistent with Michael attacking children who are truly autistic. In contrast, his belief that misdiagnosing children as autistic will damage those children who are misdiagnosed and stigmatize them for life, his aversion to what he sees as improper medication of young children, and subjecting them to a lifetime of chemical straight jackets, and his recent sharing of his belief that the medical profession failed to properly care for his brother prior to his brother’s death, do explain his passion in challenging what he sees as improper efforts by some in the health care industry to brand and treat as autistic persons who are not.”
In this context, for multiple reasons, TRN does not believe that it is appropriate to take adversarial action to suspend or terminate Savage for not phrasing his comments in this instance more carefully.
The Network also believes, as a policy matter, that it is not appropriate to censor the opinions of its hosts on legitimate issues. However, TRN will begin broadcasting PSAs with respect to legitimate autism issues, subject to spot availability, without charge, and will be encouraging other networks to do the same.
TRN also made available audio clips from the show, posted on www.savageonautism.com :