Michael Savage: Crunchy hippie liberal

What leads someone to become a fire-breathing right-wing talk show host? Answer: A Ph.D. from Berkeley in nutritional ethnomedicine. Seriously.

The current issue of The New Yorker has a very interesting profile of Michael Savage [registration required]. Although the magazine’s profiles of conservatives often degenerate into caricature, this one is surprisingly fair-minded, even affectionate.

As for Savage’s origins, we find out that in 1978 Michael Alan Weiner

earned a degree that sounds like something from a conservative parody of liberal university culture: a Ph.D. in nutritional ethnomedicine from the University of California at Berkeley. As Michael A. Weiner, [Savage] built a small empire as a consultant and the author of a string of crunchy advice books: “Plant a Tree”; “Earth Medicine, Earth Food”; “The Art of Feeding Children Well”; “Maximum Immunity”.

While the article was being researched, Savage challenged the author, Kelefa Sanneh, to be more objective than other liberal journalists:

Over the years, Savage has noticed that his disdain for the mainstream media is weidely reciprocated…So when he received an e-mail from a journalist asking for an interview, he was deeply suspicious. He read the e-mail on the air — he kept the writer anonymous, and didn’t mention that the request came from The New Yorker — and then asked his listeners, “Should I do the interview or not?”…

About a week later, Savage revisited the topic — “my continuing correspondence with a big-shot magazine writer.” He quoted the latest exchanges, along with his tart response, in which he asked, “Why must all of you in the extreme media paint everyone you disagree with as demonic? Why is the homosexual agenda so important to the midstream media?”

Surprisingly, this approach seems to have paid off. Among the striking passages in Sanneh’s profile is this one:

The immoderate quotes meticulously catalogued by the liberal media watchdog site mediamatter.org are accurate but misleading, insofar as they reduce a willfully erratic broadcast to a series of political brickbats.

Never thought I’d read that in The New Yorker.

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