Michael Savage is on a roll: First the Brits take him off the "hate promoters" list that had him banned from the country, and now Kelefa Sanneh has an affectionate profile of the heretical conservative shock jock in the New Yorker. The toxic soundbites that emerge from Savage's show, and even his own stridently polemical books, don't do justice, Sanneh writes, to "the freewheeling sensibility of the show or the complicated personality of the man."
Sanneh finds Savage addictive and unpredictable, and reports that he has a soft side —"Savage abhors animal cruelty (though not as much as he abhors the animal rights movement)" and is very close to his dog. He's a former botanist and expert in herbal medicine ("somehow the years of research made him not a chipper health nut but a melancholy fatalist"), as well as an aficionado of jazz, Cuban music, and early rock and roll. Despite his "exquisite irritability," he's a first-rate host, Kelefa says, even to a reporter who, Savage notes on air, looks a lot like the guy he loves to afflict most: Barack Obama.