Michael Savage (San Francisco Chronicle)

Standing by his criticism of the autism “racket,” nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage devoted his entire three-hour show yesterday to the topic, allowing experts and callers to weigh in on the controversy sparked by a left-leaning media watchdog’s campaign against him.

The Web-based Media Matters – which describes its task as “correcting conservative misinformation” – urged people to call their local radio stations to hold Savage “accountable” for his comments during a July 16 broadcast of the Savage Nation, the country’s third most popular talk show, with more than 8 million weekly listeners on 350 stations.

Savage explained in a statement on his website that his assertion autism is a “fraud” and “a racket” was “meant to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community’s attempt to label too many children or adults as ‘autistic.'”

During his July 16 show, Savage said, “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.”

Savage said, “They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron, you’ll get nowhere in life. … Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.”

Savage explained to the New York Times his use of the figure 99 percent was hyperbole.

He told WND that Media Matters itself is as much a part of the story as autism. Acting like the HIV virus, he said, “they invade the body politic and mimic the defense cells until they poison the entire organism.”

Summing up the controversy, he said: “I spend my entire life championing helpless children, because of the tragedy of my brother Jerome. I attack falsely diagnosed cases, the misdiagnosed and the outright fraud artists through a bold parody, and Media Matters rips the parody out of context, stirs up the autism community against me, and here we are!”

During his broadcast yesterday, Savage urged his critics not to rush to judgment, “because the truly autistic child needs as much help as he or she can get, the truly autistic child needs the funding.”

“It is the falsely diagnosed, the misdiagnosed and the outright fakers who want the benefits, who must be found out and must be turned out, so that the money can go to the truly needy in this particular field,” he said.

Savage explained that argument “was the essence of my conversation last week.”

“Why would I have chosen to attack defenseless children when I’ve never done so in my entire life?” he asked. “Think about that. What would I have gained by doing it? Nothing. I didn’t do it. The fact of the matter is the enemies of the truth did it, using you, the parents of the injured child to turn on me, the defender of the child.”

In the statement on his website, Savage explained that just as drug companies “have overdiagnosed ‘ADD’ and ‘ADHD’ to peddle dangerous speed-like drugs to children as young as 4 years of age, this cartel of doctors and drug companies is now creating a national panic by overdiagnosing “autism, for which there is no definitive medical diagnosis!”

In its “Call to Action” against Savage, Media Matters said, “Your voice is critical in holding Savage accountable for his comments. Autism is not a fraud – asthma is not a money racket. I hope you take the time to call and tell those running the station exactly what you think of Michael Savage.”

In New York City yesterday, a coalition of groups that advocate for children with autism responded, staging a protest outside the studios of radio station WOR, which carries Savage’s program.

Savage commented that “some in New York found it odd that the protesters were almost all men, they had neatly printed signs and there were no children. They suspect it was a staged protest by the Stalinist Savage-haters.”

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