Retroactive context? Talk Radio Network discovers "true context" for Savage's autism "views" in shows that came days after his original commentsJuly 25, 2008 3:43 PM EDT ››› ZACHARY ARONOW, JEREMY HOLDEN, JULIE MILLICAN, JEREMY SCHULMAN, & ANNE SMITH
Responding to the firestorm surrounding Michael Savage's July 16 comments about autism, Talk Radio Network, which syndicates his show, posted on a website a statement asserting that Savage's comments had been taken "out of context" and purporting to provide "true context" for Savage's "views" on autism. The website -- savageonautism.com -- features "20 audio clips of Michael Savage's comments on Autism," which the accompanying statement describes as "a representative sampling of Dr. Savage's views, as well as the applicable issues, in true context." In fact, all 20 of those audio clips are from the July 21 and 22 broadcasts of Savage's show, during which Savage misrepresented his July 16 remarks; they are not -- as Talk Radio Network suggests -- "context" for the July 16 remarks. In addition, missing from the "representative sampling" of Savage's "views" is Savage's prior acknowledgment that he had called autism "a phony disease." Savage made this acknowledgment in a previous show that re-aired July 9 (portions of which were previously included in a YouTube clip posted on June 30) -- that is, before Savage's July 16 comments, as opposed to the after-the-fact "context" offered by Talk Radio Network.
Media Matters for America has reviewed each of the 20 audio clips posted as "context" on savageonautism.com and has confirmed that each of them was aired on July 21 or 22.
Savage said on July 16: "Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket. ... You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is."
Responding to the ensuing controversy, Talk Radio Network issued a statement accusing Media Matters of "manipulat[ing] 84 seconds of commentary out of context." The statement -- which is also posted on savageonautism.com -- provides no evidence for this allegation, instead referring readers to savageonautism.com for the "true context" of Savage's "views":
In contrast to the cynical efforts of Media Matters to manipulate 84 seconds of commentary out of context, for its own ends, the Network does believe that the issue is about the children. While the 84 seconds at issue has created intense controversy, the Network welcomes the opportunity to broaden the discussion on the important issues relating to autism, the "autism spectrum", the validity of autism diagnoses, and the ever-expanding drugging of America's children.
The Network commenced this discussion in the July 21st and 22nd broadcasts of The Michael Savage Show. For those who believe that the 84 seconds cited by Media Matters defines Michael Savage's views on autism, the Network recommends going to (or clicking) http://www.savageonautism.com/ to view a representative sampling of Dr. Savage's views, as well as the applicable issues, in true context.
Under the heading "20 audio clips of Michael Savage's comments on Autism," the website provides 20 audio clips along with brief descriptions of each -- for example, "Savage says the real cases of autism need our sympathy and support," and "Caller Susan says her child was labeled autistic by school officials and that she was pressured to sign off on the diagnosis." But since all of the audio clips come from Savage's July 21 and 22 broadcasts, none provide any support for Savage's and Talk Radio Network's discredited claim that Savage's comments were taken "out of context." Media Matters is providing the following partial transcript of Savage's comments in the savageonautism.com audio clips for reference only.
|Savageonautism.com description||Highlighted comments (partial transcript of audio provided at savageonautism.com)||Date clip aired|
|1. Savage says the real cases of autism need our sympathy and support.||SAVAGE: I'll repeat what I said yesterday: The real cases of autism deserve our sympathy and our financial support. It is the phonies and the misdiagnosed and falsely diagnosed that we are addressing on The Savage Nation.||7/22|
|2. Savage says his brother was severely disabled and that misdiagnosis hurts the child.||SAVAGE: Now let me get very personal. I am the brother of a severely disabled brother, who suffered and died in a New York snakepit of a mental hospital. I know first hand what true disability is. Don't lecture me about it.||7/21|
|3. Savage says that the genuinely autistic need as much love and attention as we can give them.||SAVAGE: Now there are children who are genuinely autistic, and of course, they need as much love and attention and help as we can give them, but many children are being victimized by being diagnosed with an illness which may not exist in all cases.||7/21|
|4. Savage talks about his disabled brother who died in a hospital||SAVAGE: I thought about my poor, deceased brother, who lived without having spoken a word his entire life. He lived into his 20s. He was given away when he was very young -- five or six -- tore the family to pieces. He was sent to a snakepit on Staten Island, where he suffered for 20 years. And he died in that hospital, never having spoken a word.||7/21|
|5. Savage speaks with Wendy Fournier, President of the National Autism Association.||SAVAGE: Let's go to Wendy Fournier, National Autism Association. Miss Fournier, welcome to The Savage Nation, thanks for being with us.||7/21|
|6. Savage interviews psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin. Dr. Breggin says that though there are real cases of autism, those involved in the broadening of its diagnosis are in the pay of pharmaceutical companies. Breggin says Savage is correct that autism is over diagnosed.||SAVAGE: I have a medical professional on by the name of Dr. Peter Breggin. And Dr. Breggin is one of my favorite guests. I haven't had him on in years.||7/22|
|7. Savage speaks with Dr. Stephen Camarota [sic] of Vanderbilt University who has worked extensively with autistic children. He says that the definition of autism has been expanded too far.||SAVAGE: Now I'm going to have another expert on right now, a real expert in the area of autism -- someone who has studied autism for decades, someone who has written about autism for decades, and someone who knows what he is talking about. Professor Stephen Camarata of Vanderbilt University.||7/21|
|8. Caller Kyle is a school psychologist who works with autistic kids and agrees with Savage on the over diagnosis of autism and how it only hurts the kids who truly have the condition.||SAVAGE: New York City, Kyle, thanks for holding. Welcome to The Savage Nation. Your point, please.||7/21|
|9. Caller Susan says her child was labeled autistic by school officials and that she was pressured to sign off on the diagnosis.||SAVAGE: Texas, Susan, you're on The Savage Nation. What's your story? Go ahead, please."||7/21|
|10. Caller Tikvah is a therapist in New York City who works with children who says that kids are frequently labeled with autism even though they have other conditions because the agencies are provided with more funds for that diagnosis.||SAVAGE: Tikvah in New York City on WOR, my wonderful affiliate in Manhattan and -- and surrounding area, what's on your mind Tikvah?||7/22|
|11. Savage says his comments about autism were directed at those who are falsely diagnosed and that he knows what it's like to have a child suffer in front of his eyes.||SAVAGE: We've been talking about autism, whether too many children are being categorized as autistic; about my comments which were ripped out of context. My comments about autism last week were aimed at the children who are falsely or misdiagnosed. And they were meant to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community's attempt to label far too many children or adults as autistic. And I stick to that. And I will say again, I know firsthand what it is like to have a child who suffers in front of your eyes.||7/21|
|12. Savage reads from his book Healing Children Naturally where he cautions against the drugging of children.||SAVAGE: I want to refer to something for those of you who've just joined the show and don't know my background. My book, Healing Children Naturally, was published in 1982. I republished it last year.||7/21|
|13. Savage mentions that UK doctors do not screen for autism because screening tools have not been fully validated.||SAVAGE: Again, I want to reiterate a few points. The United Kingdom, the doctors in the UK National Screening Committee do not screen for autism in the general child population. Why? Because they say "screening tools have not been fully validated." And "interventions", that is, treatments, "lack sufficient evidence for effectiveness". So, be careful.||7/21|
|14. Savage says real autism is devastating, but that it's difficult to diagnose, such that the [sic] do not screen for it in the UK. Savage says that over diagnosis occurs because of the "autistic spectrum" and this is insulting to the truly ill.||SAVAGE: We know that autism, by itself in a true case is devastating. Its causes are unknown. [...] In the United Kingdom, in Britain, the UK National Screening Committee recommends against, I repeat, against screening for autism in the general child population because "screening tools have not been fully validated, and interventions lack sufficient evidence for effectiveness." Are you aware of any of this? [...] Are you aware of the fact that there is a category now called the autistic spectrum?||7/21|
|15. Caller Victoria has an autistic child and says it is too easy to get a child diagnosed as autistic. Savage says resources for autism must be reserved for children like hers.||SAVAGE: Virginia, Victoria, you're on The Savage Nation. Go ahead, please.||7/22|
|16. Savage says he has devoted his life to helping children and gives the context for his remarks.||SAVAGE: What is ironic is that I, Michael Savage, who have, well I have personally devoted most of my life to the defense of defenseless children, to helping children stay off drugs, to helping parents understand that there's a very evil empire of pharmaceutical firms and corrupt doctors, who wish to drug your children. The issue of autism came up because last week in the context of talking about welfare fraud, talking about fraudulent diagnoses in order to sell children medications, I raised the issue of autism.||7/21|
|17. Savage criticizes doctors for recommending cholesterol drugs on children as young as two.||SAVAGE: Did you know that just a few weeks ago, quack doctors recommended dangerous anti-cholesterol drugs for children as young as two years of age? That's right, you heard me.||7/21|
|18. Savage says that though people are making money from false diagnosis, real cases of autism deserve our sympathy and out [sic] support.||SAVAGE: Be very mindful of the fact that there are fortunes being made in the medical and educational communities. Now having said that, I'll repeat what I said yesterday. The real cases of autism deserve our sympathy and our financial support. It is the phonies, and the misdiagnosed and falsely diagnosed that we are addressing on The Savage Nation.||7/22|
|19. Savage says many experts say that many children are falsely diagnosed.||SAVAGE: Now how do I know that there are phonies, and misdiagnosed and falsely diagnosed cases? Well, the experts tell me so. Some experts say that over 58 percent are falsely or misdiagnosed. That's professor Stephen Camarata of Vanderbilt University who treats authentic autism. He has done so for 30 years. That's his data.||7/22|
|20. Savage says that real autism is tragic, and that a false diagnosis is a crime against the child.||SAVAGE: Autism in its true form is a tragedy for the child and the parents. But to throw every child who evidences these characteristics into this category of autism is a crime against the child.||7/21|