The Suspicious Rise Of Michael Savage

Please brace yourselves, because this post will sound a bit crazy. But I have to say it, and it's personal. Earlier today, while in the middle of writing the last post in which I mentioned Watergate and my history with G. Gordon Liddy (a good human being and a dear friend despite all the stuff leftists say about him), I was greeted with the news that Michael Savage, a demagogic bigot I have loathed for years, was fired for calling a gay man a "sodomite" and saying that he hoped he'd die of AIDS.

I witnessed firsthand the rise of that son of a bitch. And now -- I hope -- I am witnessing his fall. Because the paranoid side of me fears that some of my actions might have helped launch Michael Savage's suspicious career in San Francisco in 1994, I can't remain silent.

This is a tough story to blog, and I apologize for what I am sure will be a lengthy rant, but this is personal, and I'm a witness.

Let me start with some background. I saw G. Gordon Liddy for the first time when he debated Timothy Leary in 1979 on the UC Berkeley campus. While I was more inclined at the time to be a fan of Leary, I had rather liked Liddy's spunky bravery, and had enjoyed watching him telling all three branches of the federal government to fuck off during the Watergate era. (Little did he know then that far from protecting Nixon, he was unwittingly assisting a domestic coup d'état.) Anyway, Liddy won me over at the debate even though I disagreed with him on a variety of issues (as I do now). The guy was simply a class act, a good debater, and most of all, a gentleman. I loved Liddy's book Will, which contains excellent advice on dealing with life's adversities, and explains his defiance of the state, the left, and Judge John Sirica, whose 20 year sentence of Liddy (for a first time non-residential burglary) was described by no less an authority than historian Paul Johnson as an "act of judicial terrorism."

The ancients would have been proud of Liddy, himself an admirer of the ancients. I admired him then, and I admire him now. Whether I agreed with all his opinions was completely beside the point.

Fast forward in my life to 1993. In a state of total despair, I had decided to kill myself. My lover John was dying of AIDS, and my previous lover had already died. I was on Methadone, drinking heavily, and had decided that once John died I would be free to kill myself. One day, on my way to the Methadone clinic, I happened to see a billboard advertising Liddy's radio show, which I did not know even existed. Reading Will and seeing Liddy speak years before had become a distant memory by then, but his show soon captured my imagination, and actually helped me decide against suicide.

It is a complicated story, but Liddy's vibrancy in the face of despair, and his zest for life convinced me that it would be ridiculous to surrender my life and die. I truly, consciously, wanted to die until Liddy's philosophy activated something which made me stop and think logically. I realized that my very desire and ability to kill myself was, literally, the conquest of the fear of death. Now, if you reason logically, why fear life if you do not fear death? I realize that this might not make sense for many potential suicides, but I have always been a logical person, and my refusal to continue living was grounded in a logical desire not to go on living in a world of continual death! If you can't beat death, I reasoned, why not join it? I wanted to be with my friends. Liddy's cold but compassionate logic made me realize that this would be a stupid move for me to make. Not that I ever asked him or anyone else for help, for that is not my style. It just sunk in. I'll never forget a letter he read from a man facing prison. His wife had left him, his kids had changed their names, he was to go into custody soon, and he despaired, "I am a broken man!" Liddy's advice -- that he simply "get over the "broken man" stuff. No one can break you but you!" -- struck me like a bolt of lightning. I simply picked myself up, and if I hadn't I would not be alive to blog today.

(Pretty heavy stuff, and not easy to discuss, but isn't that as good a reason as any to blog?)

Not long after deciding to live, I got into a disagreement with Liddy about gays in the military -- something I continue to disagree with him about quite strongly. He took the time to read my faxes, put me on the air and couldn't have been more polite. (Something of which Michael Savage types are simply incapable.) Having read about Watergate, I was overwhelmed with a gut feeling that he had been treated unfairly and deserved a pardon. How could I, as a gay Clinton voter (and lifelong registered Democrat) do any less than ask a president I helped put in office for simple justice for a man who had helped me a great deal?

I wrote to President Clinton in April of 1994, strongly urging that he grant a presidential pardon of Liddy. A few months later, G. Gordon Liddy was summarily yanked off the air in San Francisco, along with libertarian Gene Burns (another real gentleman who'd been kind enough to put me on the air). Their ultimate replacements were -- guess who? -- two hitherto unknown local San Francisco novices, Michael Savage and J. Paul Emerson. I listened as these slimy people advocated things like a nuclear blast to clean out San Francisco's Castro District, and I wondered, "Hmmm… Does someone here have a plan to discredit the right wing?" To this day I believe they were agent provocateurs -- deliberately inflammatory poseurs masquerading as conservatives. I was absolutely certain that Emerson was an agent provocateur, and told as many people as I could. After an outburst not unlike the latest one from Savage, he was fired from the San Francisco airwaves, moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and simply disappeared from public sight.

While I can't prove Savage is an agent provocateur, it certainly looked like it to me for many years. And it looks like it right now, too. As my blogfather observed today:

Discount Blogger sums it up perfectly at this post:
Michael Savage is as bad for conservatism as Ann Coulter is. Dumbass.

If Savage is doing such a great job of making conservatives look bad, well, is it unreasonable to ask just who the hell he's working for?

To me Michael Savage is more than just a bigoted radio hatemonger. I take him as a personal insult. I worry that he is an agent provocateur. I hope nothing I did helped launch him. (But I am often haunted by FDR's warnings that there are no coincidences in politics....)

Most of all, I hope he's gone for good.

UPDATE (01/08/05): I'm stunned and tickled pink to see that this older post has been InstaLanched again (in he context of Michael Savage's cruel remarks about tsunumi aid). I'm really honored that Glenn Reynolds thinks highly enough of it to link it twice. Welcome all InstaPundit readers, and thank you, Glenn!

posted by Eric on 07.08.03 at 01:26 AM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Suspicious Rise Of Michael Savage:

» Michael Savage Does It Again from Blog Jones
Why is Michael Savage still on the air? As if his “You should only get AIDS and die” comment that got him fired from MSNBC wasn’t bad enough, and as if his ridiculous claims about John Kerry weren’t bad enough, now we get the following comments abou... [Read More]
Tracked on January 9, 2005 12:22 AM


George Gordon Battle Liddy is a heroic man. I loved "Will". And that he's a good friend of yours, Eric Scheie, that you like him, definitely shows him to be a hero.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  September 6, 2003 8:27 AM

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