Friday will mark the eighth year of Britain’s ban of a prominent American talk-radio host and bestselling author from entry because opinions he expressed on the air purportedly made him a threat to national security.
On May 5, 2009, Michael Savage, host of the nationally syndicated “The Savage Nation” and a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame, was blacklisted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government, which lumped him together with Muslim jihadists and leaders of racist groups for “seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred,” as WND reported.
The British government, however, has never specified what Savage has said that might threaten the nation’s security.
Further, government correspondence by top officials revealed the decision was made in an attempt to provide “balance” to a “least wanted” list dominated by Muslim extremists.
Now, with Donald Trump in the White House, a new petition is urging the president and the U.S. State Department to demand that Britain remove Savage from the list.
“It is outrageous that a Western nation would ban a popular American commentator with millions of listeners and several New York Times bestselling books to “balance” its list, apparently fearing it would be accused of being biased against Muslims,” the petition says.
“Michael Savage has never advocated violence, and his political views are protected by the First Amendment, which is rooted in the civil-rights tradition that began with Britain’s Magna Carta.”
Days after the ban was announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London at the time, attacked Smith for her “utterly demented decision.”
“What are we, some sort of kindergarten that needs to be protected against these dangerous American radio shows?” he asked.
Savage wondered if Trump, a frequent guest on his show during the 2016 campaign, is even aware that the talk host is still banned from the U.K. In January, the British Parliament debated banning Trump himself from entry shortly before his inauguration as president. A Muslim Labour Party member of Parliament declared Trump’s “words are poisonous,” charging they “risk inflaming tension between vulnerable communities.”
“This is a huge story in this time of attacks on free speech,” Savage told WND regarding his ban. “Why didn’t Bernstein and Woodward lift a finger? Where is the White House Correspondents’ Association on this? Am I a non-person?
Savage’s latest book, “Trump’s War: His Battle for America,” was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and he is the No. 1-rated host on New York City’s powerhouse radio station WABC. Savage has been dubbed the “talk-radio godfather of Trumpmania,” and, in February, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the president declared, “I wouldn’t be president without this man.”
“Remember, Ann Coulter was banned by a city, and look at the coverage,” Savage said, referring to the the University of California at Berkeley’s recent cancellation of her speech due to security concerns.
“Savage is banned by a nation, and silence prevails.”
No basis for ban
In response to the ban, Savage filed a legal complaint against Britain’s then-home secretary, Smith, noting her office said in a press release that the “controversial daily radio host” is “considered to be engaging in unacceptable behavior by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to intercommunity violence.”
The allegations are “entirely false,” the complaint asserted.
“At no time has our client provoked or sought to provoke others to commit crimes or serious criminal acts.”
But the ban remains in place eight years later.
In May 2011, as WND reported, Savage received support from Reps. Allen West, R-Fla., and John Culberson, R-Texas, who sent letters to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to review Britain’s ban.
West’s letter pointed out Savage was put on the U.K.’s banned-entry list with “ruthless criminals,” including a Hamas terrorist and Russian skinhead.
West argued there is no basis for the action.
“For a nation who believes in freedom of speech and press,” he wrote, “I have a hard time understanding why such a high level, government department would release this statement when there has not been one incident recorded in the United States regarding Dr. Savage instigating violence, let alone serious criminal acts.”
Culberson, the assistant Republican whip, urged Clinton to use her position to press the U.K. to grant Savage a travel visa immediately.
The U.K.’s list included Hamas terrorist 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.
Savage has documented his battle over the ban in his book “Banned in Britain,” which includes official correspondence, released under the U.K.’s freedom-of-information law, that reveals a decision was made at the highest level of government to use his name to provide “balance” to a “least wanted” list dominated by Muslim extremists.
“We will want to ensure that the names disclosed reflect the broad range of cases and are not all Islamic extremists,” reads a draft recommendation, marked “Restricted,” that was obtained as part of Savage’s libel lawsuit against the government and the home secretary. Smith resigned from her post in June 2009 in the wake of scandal over personal use of taxpayer funds.
An email message dated Nov. 27, 2008, from an unnamed Home Office official, says, with regard to Savage, “I can understand that disclosure of the decision would help provide a balance of types of exclusion cases.”
Another email points to complicity by other agencies and even former Prime Minister Brown.
The Home Office “intend to include [Savage] in their quarterly stats. … Both the [foreign secretary and prime minister] are firmly behind listing and naming such people,” it reads.
The emails include a message from an unnamed civil servant whose cautions were ignored.
“I think we could be accused of duplicity in naming him,” he wrote without explaining the reason.
Just three months after the ban was announced, Smith’s successor as home secretary, Alan Johnson, called the ban a terrible blunder and told the Daily Mail of London he would scrap the policy of maintaining an enemies list. But Savage told WND two days later that, according to his attorney, Johnson’s announcement did not mean his name had been removed from the list.
In July 2010, the new Conservative-Party-led government of Prime Minister David Cameron informed Savage it would continue the ban initiated by the previous administration unless he repudiated statements made on his broadcasts that were deemed a threat to public security. But the government never specified which statements it thought were so dangerous.
“The Savage Nation” is syndicated across the U.S. by Cumulus Media in more than 200 markets. Savage signed a new multiyear contract with Westwood One in August.
In 2007, he earned the coveted “Freedom of Speech Award” from Talkers Magazine, where he is consistently listed as one of the top talk shows in the nation.
Along with “Trump’s War,” Savage’s bestselling books include “Stop the Coming Civil War,” “Government Zero: No Borders, No Language, No Culture,” “Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America,” “Trickle Up Poverty: Stopping Obama’s Attack on Our Borders, Economy, and Security,” “The Savage Nation,” “The Enemy Within,” “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” “Political Zoo,” “Psychological Nudity: Savage Radio Stories” and “Banned in Britain.