Friday, April 13, 2007
Imus'nt in the Morning
I feel somehow obligated to post something about the Don Imus brouhaha before it becomes just another bone in the media graveyard. Not that I owe Imus anything other than a polite "What the hell were you thinking?" He no doubt would consider me a "dope" and a "lying weasel," two of his favorite epithets for his listeners and guests.
But, like many other New Yorkers, I spent a lot of time listening to Imus in the Morning (quack quack!) over many many years. For a brief time, he was even on the radio down here in Richmond (until he offended enough of we "chin-dribbling redneck crackers") to get replaced by someone less... controversial).
Still, I could sometime snatch a few minutes of the show on MSNBC between sips of coffee and scanning the WJS. He was part of the morning routine. His crankiness perfectly matched my own as I stood impatiently before the coffee pot waiting for the tawny nectar to at last save me from the cursed dawn. He skewered the high and mighty for us, and turned their sanctimony and self-righteousness back on them in the form of biting humor. Sometimes I cringed. Mostly I laughed.
Now he's off the air. A victim of his own stupidity and a 24 hour news cycle that consumes everything in its path. Some are making a case that the constitutional protections of free speech are being trampled, or that dropping Imus from the air is a form of censorship. I don't think so. This is how capitalism works. CBS and MSNBC are in the business to make money. Advertisers don't want their products associated with a program that is at the center of such an ugly incident. That would be dumb, and would take an awful lot of explaining to do to investors. Better to play it safe. That's business.
That is not to say that the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson have earned any points outside of their own well-established base for their blatant use of the situation to further their own agendas. No doubt Al and Jesse are disappointed that the situation didn't linger until they had successfully shaken down more advertisers and media outlets. There will be other chances for these two. They know that. But there are also a few million more former Imus listeners that are now hip to how the Race Game is played. No winners here.
The biggest losers here are the young women of Rutgers. That's what's so unforgivable, Imus. You can say what you want about public figures and politicians and any one else who would put himself in your way to hawk his new book. But you don't piss on a bunch of kids and ruin one of the best moments of their life. If one of them had been my daughter, I would have punched you right in the mouth.
That said, I don't believe it was your intention to cause a furor. That intention was supplied by the media and blogosphere. You were just grist for the mill. Once again, the media itself is always it own biggest story... until the next one comes along.
But, as one New Yorker told me: "My morning coffee will never taste the same again."
And neither, unfortunately, will mine.
Posted by spd rdr at 8:01 AM