Far-Right Shock Jock Michael Savage Concocts Conspiracy Blaming Muslims for Boston Bombing -- and the Entire Govt. for Covering It Up
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No one has been officially accused of orchestrating the Boston Marathon bombing that left at least three dead and scores wounded, but one of the most popular radio hosts in America claims to have found the perpetrator. On April 16, right-wing shock jock Michael Savage declared the 22-year-old Saudi national who was tackled and arrested while fleeing from the site of the explosions, and who was then released and cleared of all suspicion, was in fact an Al Qaeda operative dispatched to carry out a 9/11 style operation inside the US. What’s more, Savage claimed the federal government was engaged in a conspiracy with Islamist forces to cover up the true identity of the bomber and place the blame on a more convenient target, perhaps a right-wing terrorist.
Since Savage’s broadcast, a remarkably similar conspiracy has gained currency in right-wing media, finding its way into a House committee hearing today when Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan attempted to corner Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. “Now we have someone being deported for national security concerns and I’m assuming he’s got some sort of link to terror or he wouldn’t be being deported,” Duncan claimed, referring to the Saudi man cleared of suspicion earlier in the week.
Napolitano corrected Duncan, assuring him that the man was never deported. “Like I said,” she reminded Duncan, “I don’t even think he was technically a person of interest or a suspect, that was a wash.”
According to Savage, such denials by federal officials prove that a cover-up is afoot. To help him flesh out the details of the government plot, Savage invited a self-proclaimed “ex-PLO terrorist” named Walid Shoebat onto his April 16 show. For a full hour, Shoebat outlined the key players, from the Obama administration to Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia to longtime Hillary Clinton assistant Huma Abedin to the CIA, FBI, US military, liberals and gay activists, all united in a conspiracy to hide the true Saudi identity of the bomber, pin the blame on a more convenient target, and advance the creeping Islamicization of America.
Savage urged Shoebat along at each lurid twist and turn, heaping layers of anti-Muslim vitriol atop his guest’s bizarre diatribes. Amidst an atmosphere of national tragedy, mourning, and trepidation, the duo delivered what might have been one of the most outrageous hours in recent talk radio history, inciting wildly against Muslims in America, pointing the finger at an innocent man for a heinous terror attack, and implicating the entire federal government for letting him go.
A few extremists have fashioned their own conspiracy theories about the Boston bombing – the notoriously unhinged Alex Jones called it a government “false flag” operation – but none boast anything close to Savage’s influence. According to the trade industry magazine Talkers, as of September 2012, Savage’s show was the third most popular political talk show in the country, just behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity with 8 million listeners a day. Unlike Limbaugh and Hannity, who cater to the Republican base, Savage cultivates listeners among the most rightward Tea Party fringe with anti-government conspiracism and unvarnished Islamophobia – “when I see a woman walking around with a burqa, I see a Nazi,” he once said. Along with prominent neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and Islamic extremists, Savage has been barred from entering the United Kingdom.
Hours after the Boston Marathon bombings, Savage predicted, “They're gonna release the Saudi guy in the hospital; they're gonna wipe their hands of it and say he had nothing to do with it. He was only an innocent spectator and that it was a false lead, and anyone who said it was a Saudi or a Muslim was a racist… This is the playbook today.”