US gay rights activists have welcomed cable television network MSNBC’s decision to cancel known-homophobe Michael Savage’s weekly show after the host made a series of anti-gay statements.

Savage was hosting his Savage Nation program when he called a caller a sodomite, told him to get trichinosis and eat a sausage and choke on it.

He also said: You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How’s that?

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) had been monitoring Savage -“ who was known for his racism, sexism and homophobia -“ since he was hired by MSNBC in February.

Savage’s reprehensible attack violated even the minimal journalistic standards that had been applied to his show, GLAAD news media director Cathy Renna said.

By offering him a show in the first place despite his history of racist, sexist and homophobic rhetoric, MSNBC ultimately had to choose between keeping Savage and maintaining its integrity as a news organisation. Michael Savage’s latest rant made the clearest possible case for why this kind of behaviour has no place on any reputable news network.

GLAAD led an advertiser education program, which saw almost all national advertisers pulling their ads from the Savage Nation.

Soon after Savage’s appointment, MSNBC president Erik Sorenson told the St Petersburg Times offensive statements would not be permitted by the network: And if they do happen, they won’t happen more than once, Sorenson said.

Savage posted a message on his website (www.michaelsavage.com) days after the show was cancelled, apologising and suggesting he had been misrepresented.

Unfortunately, my personal comments to this crank caller were broadcast. In no way did my comments reflect my views of disease and suffering in any way. If my comments brought pain to anyone I certainly did not intend for this to happen and apologise for any such reaction, he wrote.

Let me repeat, this was an interchange between me personally and a mean-spirited vicious setup caller which I thought was taking place off the air. It was not meant to reflect my personal views of the terrible tragedy and suffering associated with AIDS. I especially appeal to my many listeners in the gay community to accept my apologies for any inadvertent insults which may have occurred.

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