Clippings: The Strange Medicine of Dr. Savage
It’s 10:30 on a Friday night and the lights of faraway Boston bleach the hem of the darkness as I travel at exactly 73 miles per hour toward Logan Airport. My mouth is thick with the sour taste of rest area coffee and my eyes feel like raisins. My companion, a disembodied voice broadcasting from an undisclosed location in California’s Bay Area, wants me to know there’s something wrong in America.
“The brainwashing is overwhelming,” he says in a gruff Bronx accent. “It’s the communists in cahoots with the progressives. They want to blow America up and make it in their image.”
As someone who spends much of his time immersed in a constant stream of ski media and news from around Addison County and the rest of Vermont, my brief forays into neighboring states have become an opportunity to explore the limits of the radio dial and see what’s coming in on the frequency in the regions of New England that I find myself traveling through.
This is how I discovered the radio experience that is “The Savage Nation” somewhere near Concord, N.H.
“The Savage Nation” is hosted by one Michael Alan Weiner, known when he’s on-air as Michael Savage. Weiner grew up in the Bronx and has lived in Northern California for most of his adult life. He started his career as a nutritionist and herbalist and holds master’s degrees in medical botany and a second in medical anthropology. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in epidemiology and nutrition sciences. He has published more than 25 books under his given name, most of which expound the curative powers of naturopathic remedies for “maximum immunity” (one of his titles) or coffee enemas to cure cocaine addiction.
Since 1994, however, he’s been dedicated to curing America of a different array of evils. Here’s the title of his latest release: “Scorched Earth: Restoring The Country After Obama.”
There’s nothing good-natured or lighthearted about his work and the message he promotes. His delivery lacks the dweeby charm of “This American Life’s” Ira Glass or the steady tone of “Morning Edition’s” Audie Cornish or Robert Siegel. This isn’t Charlie Nardozzi’s “Farm and Garden Journal” on VPR. The way Savage sees it, the country is going down the tubes, not from anything the Good People of America Like Him have done. No, it’s just about everyone else that’s the problem. That includes the ACLU, feminists, Black Lives Matter protesters, the LGBT community, Muslims, illegal immigrants, artists and any other variety of “degenerate,” “pervert” or “subversive” that happens to cross his path.
I could give examples but it’d be a waste of ink. I will say his comments are the kind of material you get from that extended family member over Thanksgiving dinner; the comments that make you stare down at your peas with sudden interest or inquire if there’s any more spiked punch left. It’s these kinds of comments that in 2009 earned him a travel restriction to the United Kingdom.
Savage has stoked the fires of xenophobia and nativism since well before this crazed election season, and this time around, he’s pouring gasoline on the fire. America’s brightest days or darkest hours stand dead ahead, depending on how this hellish election plays out. This time around, Savage has decided to back the vulgar talking yam endowed with the future of the Republican Party.
“There’s only one person who can save us from this destruction and that person is Donald J. Trump,” he said on his podcast on Monday.
Apparently, Savage has something to gain should Trump find his latest real estate deal at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Trump has said America would have “common sense” if he appointed Savage to head the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This is the primary agency responsible for biomedical research and was earmarked for $30.4 billion in the federal budget last year.
Savage thinks he’s up to the task.
“When you become president, I want you to consider appointing me to head of the NIH,” he told Trump in October 2015. “I will make sure that America has real science and real medicine again in this country because I know the corruption. I know how to clean it up and I know how to make real research work again.”
And when it comes to research, Savage likes to call out some of the “bogus” science. He’s regularly called sufferers of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder “losers,” “weak” and “narcissistic.” He’s described autism as “a fraud, a racket … in 99-percent of the cases it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out.”
He’s suggested that President Obama is trying to infect the country with Ebola. You can guess Savage’s opinions on global climate change.
In a recent episode, The Donald phoned in from his private jet to discuss the need for racial profiling, a militarized police force and a return of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
“Only a large wall between us and the terrorists makes sense. Only massive deportations make sense. Massive incarceration makes sense. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time, my friends.”
The mike is hot and the airwaves are open, but is anyone listening? Savage’s own website says his show reaches 10 million people and anyone can guess as to the accuracy of this number. That’s a lot of people lining up for a dose of the Doctor’s medicine and I took a full hit while flying down Route 93.
It’s bitter stuff if you ask me.