Friday, February 12, 2016


This clip is a few days old, but it's delightful. In it, Michael Savage -- right-wing radio host, Donald Trump fan, and borderline personality disorder poster child -- tells us that he thinks Fox's Megyn Kelly is mentally ill, the evidence being ... her hair.

SAVAGE: I can't wait till the hag gets at them, at the next debate. What is she doing, that one, the one from Fox News? What is the hairdo?

The hairdo indicates derangement. The hairdo that she has -- and I have studied women, and I've studied men, my whole life -- the hairdo that Kelly has right now indicates derangement to me. She looks herself in the mirror, she rips her hair out, then they have to cut it short in order to not show that she tore it out, because she knows that her face is changing like a portrait of Doriana Gray.

Have you seen the nostrils on her? Her face is changing. The meaner she gets, the more porcine she looks. Underneath that beautiful persona there was actually a porcine individual. So now, what, is she trying to become Rachel Maddow?

I don't know how meaningful this rant is. I want to see it as a sign of a huge conservative crack-up, or at least a right-wing rebellion against Fox News for being only partly in the bag for Trump, but I know that Savage routinely lashes out this way, even against the people who should be his political allies, and conservatism has survived. Still, if you're a connoisseur of derangement, it's choice stuff.

Savage has built a great career on this kind of drunk-at-the-end-of-the-bar vitriol, aimed most of the time at Democrats and liberals -- a decade ago he was the third most listened-to radio talk show host in America, and by 2009 he'd moved into second place -- but if you were a respectable media figure, you weren't supposed to notice or acknowledge this. In those days, when Keith Olbermann routinely named Savage "the worst person in the world," or at least a runner-up, it was Olbermann who was denounced for intemperance. "Worst person in the world"! That's the kind of hateful talk that's dividing America! And meanwhile, it was people Savage and his right-wing media allies who were working the hardest to divide us. (Here he is, for instance, in 2007, denouncing a liberal critic of his show as "the type that stuffed ovens in Hitler's concentration camps.")

In one of the rare moments when Savage got mainstream media attention at all at the peak of his career, he was profiled by The New Yorker's Kelefa Sanneh -- and portrayed not as a hatemonger, but as a deeply complex existential hipster:
Even in this world of born-again refuseniks, Michael Savage is an anomaly: a heretic among heretics.

... Savage’s regular listeners ... know him to be, more days than not, a marvellous storyteller, a quirky thinker, and an incorrigible free-associater. He sometimes sounds less like a political commentator than like the star of a riveting and unusually vivid one-man play ... or a fugitive character out of a Philip Roth novel. Savage seems resigned to the fact that the majority of Americans, including many of his own listeners, just don’t get it -- just don’t get him -- and never will. He is a permanent resident of the political wilderness, sending daily dispatches back to the diseased civilization that the rest of us call home....
(Sanneh is the same reporter who recently told The New Yorker's readers that Martin Shkreli isn't really that bad a guy.)

A culture that ignored or downplayed the vileness of talk radio for decades is now shocked that there's an audience for Donald Trump. But the audience was always there, sitting by the AM receiver every day. Alternet's Adam Johnson has argued that Trump stole his entire act from Savage, and he notes that Trump gave his first radio interview to Savage after he joined the presidential race. But to the mainstream media, Savage was too vile to fit the narrative of a spirited but ultimately responsible conservative movement, so he was just ignored. And now maybe Savage has birthed Trump, and the GOP and Fox are in Trump's crosshairs. So now we're paying attention.


simon said...

"or a fugitive character out of a Philip Roth novel"

Yes, Portnoy's Complaint.

Ten Bears said...

The crotch-shots in the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on Fox Kool-Aid.

My (still blonde) girl-friend tells me that cut went out two years ago.

Feud Turgidson said...

Jamerais dire, chacun à sa coif.

I can see how, if you wanted to, you could tease out a sort of Maddow thing going on there (Each has publicly complimented the other on aspects of doing the job.); ultimately, that fails on the difference between contrivance and convenience. Or, you could read in Ayn Rand. Whatever: I kind of like her new do (new to her, at least). It's almost the only thing I like about her; I have way more trouble listening to her off what she says than for how she looks.

Dear presumably honorable G/F of 10 Bears: Kindly inform 10B that you're also aware that coming in behind the beat actually made Billy Holiday's jazz, kept Elvis's ticket sales up longer than his performances justified, and appears not to have served Lyle Lovett ill in any respect.