Talk-show host Michael Savage (search) claims he didn't know that he was on the air when he told a caller to his cable TV show that he was a "sodomite" who should "get AIDS and die."

Savage, who was fired by MSNBC Monday morning, apologized for the incident - and bashed the news network - on his national radio show that night.

"MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves for catering to a mistake like this," said Savage, who claimed he signaled for a crank caller to be taken off the air before launching into what he said was supposed to be a private tongue-lashing.

"They're fools, they're just fools, and that's why TV sucks," Savage said.

The blustery conservative offered this apology: "It was not meant to reflect my views of the terrible tragedy and suffering connected with AIDS."