A well-known right-leaning radio firebrand whose face has become a staple on cable TV news shows has vowed to speak out against the U.K.'s blacklisting of Michael Savage – and he's demanding that the nation's talkers join him.
Bill Cunningham, Cincinnati host of 700 WLW who replaced Matt Drudge on the Sunday night Premiere Radio Network talk show, is best known for being scolded by John McCain after he referred to President Obama as "Barack Hussein Obama" during the presidential campaigns. He pledged Sunday to talk about Britain's ban every week on his live show, aired in more than 200 markets, until the U.K. removes Savage's name from its blacklist.
"If the kings and queens of talk radio do not arise and stand with Michael Savage, they're going to start picking us off one at a time," Cunningham told WND. "If we don't stand with Michael, there'll be no one left to stand with each of us when the FCC or the British government or the American government comes after us. I see it as personal because if Michael Savage falls, who are they going to pick on next?"
Cunningham pledged, "Every Sunday between now and the end of time, I will talk about Michael Savage, support Michael Savage and encourage boycotts of everything British until they free Savage from this fatwa that was issued by the British government."
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U.K. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith defended her decision to ban Savage Tuesday, saying, "In his radio broadcasts, Mr. Savage has spoken about killing 100 million Muslims, and he has spoken in violent terms about homosexuals."
The U.K. list also includes Hamas leader Yunis Al-Astal, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe and radical American pastor Fred Phelps, known for his virulent anti-gay protests at funerals. Phelps' daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper also is on the list. But Cunningham said he believes it is outrageous to link Savage with members of the Ku Klux Klan and radical Islamists.
"Michael Savage in his life has never committed a violent act against anybody. He doesn't encourage or incite violence," he said. "All Michael Savage does is make me think. The thought police, whether in Britain or in America, should leave free-thinkers like Michael Savage alone."
Cunningham said he wishes the kings and queens of talk radio would speak up for Savage because he believes the British government or the FCC will target them next.
Asked why he thinks the nation's talk radio hosts haven't already voiced their support for Savage, he replied, "I think there are two reasons: One is competition. Maybe they think that if Michael Savage leaves the airwaves it'll give them more time clearances on more stations. I think that is short-sighted. Secondly, Michael Savage is a bit radioactive, and they don't want to engender commercial boycotts of their own shows."
But Cunningham said Fox News' Sean Hannity is a good friend of his, and he fully intends to address the issue with the radio and television host.
Michael Savage (San Francisco Chronicle)
"The next time I talk to Sean, I'm going to ask him why he hasn't spoken up for Savage," he said.
While Cunningham said he hopes the Obama administration would be courageous enough to come to the defense of Savage, he doesn't think it will happen.
"I guarantee that if the British government had issued a fatwa against left-leaning politicians, if it had banned Ed Schultz who sits in the front row of Obama's news conferences, I bet the Obama administration would get the ban lifted," he said.
"But because it's Michael Savage, who's on the opposite side of the political spectrum as Obama, they keep their damn mouths shut."
He said the "Clintonistas" and the "Obamamaniacs" are working together to marginalize talk radio, and regardless of Savage's appeal to Hillary Clinton to call on the British government to withdraw the ban, the secretary of state is unlikely to act.
"That is a voice crying in the wilderness because Hillary and Obama want people like Savage to shut up," he said. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if before they did this, somebody in Gordon Brown's administration contacted Washington and told them, 'Hey, we're about to do this to one of your talk-show hosts,' and they said, 'Go get him. Let's see if it works. Let's see if the talk radio community will shut up.'"
On his website, Savage is appealing to his listeners to contribute to his legal fund as he considers action against the home secretary. Cunningham said listeners should also boycott Britain. He and his wife had planned to go to London in September, but they canceled the trip after the blacklist was released.
In the meantime, Cunningham will continue to demand an apology from Jacqui Smith and the U.K. – every Sunday on his show until the ban is lifted.
"I don't agree with some things Michael Savage says, but I will fight to the death for his right to say it," he said. "That's the essence of the First Amendment. He may say some things that I wouldn't say, but damn it, he's got the right to say it."