The dislike between WestwoodOne’s Michael Savage and Premiere’s Sean Hannity has burst to the surface now that the two men are going head to head in prime drivetime, notes a Politico article that interviewed them both.
“The two aren’t just questioning each others’ bonafides. It’s not simply a professional rivalry — it’s clearly personal,” the story said.
“My competitor doesn’t have the capacity to go beyond the Democrat-Republican talking points,” Savage told POLITICO. “That’s all he’s ever done. That’s all he can do. He has no education. I’m just going to lay it on the line, I’m not going to mince words.”
“You could say, well, I’m a snob,” Savage said. “Well, ok, I’m proud of my doctorate, two master’s degrees, I’m proud of my 28 books, including many in health. And so, yeah, I’m proud of my academic achievements. I believe it’s embarrassing for people to act as experts, even in politics, if they don’t have a rigorous training in anything.”
Hannity attended New York University and Adelphi University, but left both before graduating so he could pursue a broadcasting career, according to a biography.
Hannity doesn’t name-check Savage on air, though he has alluded to him. When asked about the feud, Hannity blamed his competitor.
“Here’s the bottom line,” Hannity told POLITICO. “I love everybody in this business. This guy is obsessed with me, I’m not obsessed with him. And, you know, I understand the Dickeys are bitter because I left,” referring to the heads of Cumulus.
Savage kicked off 2014 with his show “The Savage Nation” moving into the prime 3-6 p.m. afternoon drive timeslot on Cumulus radio stations. Savage scored the spot when Hannity split with Cumulus last year and re-upped his contract with Premiere.
John Dickey, Cumulus EVP/COO, told POLITICO in a statement that Savage “is off to the great start we expected in this important timeslot and we’re very pleased about how listeners and advertisers are responding.”
For his part, Savage is relishing his new time — and the rivalry with Hannity. Savage says the root of the personal conflict is Hannity, who has told unflattering tall tales about him. Savage would not detail what Hannity has said, saying he “would rather not repeat the lies.”
“Having said that, now he says things about me, I’ve heard, that are bordering on slander,” Savage said. “He’s making allegations about sexual activities, etc., that if he keeps it up, I’m going to sue him. Because he’s making it up out of whole cloth.”
Hannity has alluded to Savage, although not by name, on several occasions on his own show. Hannity had mentioned how disgraced politician Anthony Weiner had recently admitted there might be additional personal photographs of himself out there and noted, “I don’t know what it is, too, about people with the last name Weiner. If you Google ‘talk show host Weiner Fiji Ginsberg,’ boy is it a shocker. Must be the last name. Just Google it.”
Savage was born Michael Weiner and later changed his last name.
On Wednesday, Hannity again brought up the reference to the beat poet Allen Ginsberg, saying, “Here’s a mystery that we will one day unfold to you. Who is the phony conservative radio host, who is this guy, who once went — really old man, bitter, angry, pathetic — that once went skinny-dipping, claims to be, he’s a phony conservative — according to reports, we’re only beginning our research, we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to have real, real fun.”
This conservative host, Hannity said, once went “skinny-dipping” in Fiji “with a liberal poet, Ginsberg.”
And Savage has brought his battle with Hannity onto the airwaves, calling his fellow radio host one of the “most shallow men” in media and a “fake conservative” on a show in May 2013.
RBR-TVBR observation: Savage recently poked fun at Hannity’s previous work in construction, calling him “The Wallbanger.” Hannity used to install Sheetrock in the day, but Savage used the fact to question if that’s where Hannity gets his political license/knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with talk show rivalries, it often increases ratings—just as long as they don’t go over the line. These guys are getting close. It’s also no secret, the ongoing feud between Savage and Mark Levin (also syndicated by Cumulus’ WestwoodOne). Levin recently alluded that he had been asked by his superiors not to disparage Savage on-air.