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Savage apologizes for remarks that led to firing

Michael Savage, the conservative talk-show host fired by cable news channel MSNBC for wishing AIDS on a caller, on Tuesday apologized for his remarks. "If my comments brought pain to anyone I certainly did not intend for this to happen and apologize for any such reaction," Savage said on his Web
site, www.michaelsavage.com. "I especially appeal to my many listeners in the gay community to
accept my apologies for any inadvertent insults which may have occurred." On Monday an MSNBC spokesman said the cable channel had canceled Savage's show, The Savage Nation, after an incident Saturday in which the controversial radio talk-show host got into a verbal exchange with a caller whom he dismissed as "one of those sodomites." In the midst of the heated exchange Savage told the caller, "Oh, you're one of the sodomites! You should only get AIDS and die, you pig!"

The TV show, which debuted in March, aired 15 times, averaging fewer than 350,000 viewers an episode. It aired on Saturday nights at 5 p.m. Eastern time. In his apology Savage said that he thought that he was talking to "a crank caller from a competitive talk show" and that the call had been cut off by producers. "Unfortunately, my personal comments to this crank caller were broadcast," he said. "Let me repeat, this was an interchange between me personally and a mean-spirited, vicious setup caller which I thought was taking place off the air. It was not meant to reflect my views of the terrible
tragedy and suffering associated with AIDS." According to a report in The Boston Globe, Bob Foster, a California man who regularly makes prank calls, has been identified as the individual who elicited Savage's ill-fated MSNBC response. In a brief interview yesterday Foster said his call had nothing to do with gay issues but noted that "if he's making those kind of comments, those aren't right."

In the wake of the comments and the subsequent firing, at least one radio station has decided to pull Savage's popular radio talk show off the air. The Globe reports that Boston's WRKO-AM (680) suspended Savage from its airwaves yesterday, as the remarks that ended his MSNBC career rippled through the media universe, sparking debate about the boundaries of taste and decency in the raucous talk-radio culture. Program director Mike Elder suspended Savage "at least temporarily," pending a conversation with the show's syndicators, the Oregon-based Talk Radio Network. Elder called Savage's remarks "over the line" and said, "I think he's probably a homophobe in reality." Elder said he planned to make it clear that if he accepted Savage back on the air, any similar incident would be grounds for permanent cancellation.

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