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.


camojack said...

I never listened to the guy, but it was a stupid thing to say.

portia said...

Good post, spd. Good to see you posting:)

*Sigh* I was a regular Imus listener, and I'm mad as hell. The brushfire speed with which these three words morphed into 6 days of "breaking news" is jaw-dropping to say the least. The hypocrisy on display topdown is stunning.

Yes, yes, yes, his comment was stupid, and he crossed the line with a cheap attempt at humor but how the heck does a charlatan like Al Sharpton get to demand that someone be fired because he "is offended?" Where is the corporate outrage at the drumbeat of Sharpton's racist remarks? And where the hell is Jesse Jackson's apology after he rushed down to Durham to condemn 4 white lacrosse players? I'm sick of these self-appointed arbiters foisting their racial lens on every infraction by a non-black, and ripping apart lives--and sometimes whole communities--through their stoking of the same. Pfffffftt. Color me offended.

Imus is off the air. Now what Reverend?

CBS was forced to pay a $550,000 fine for Ms. Jackson's 3-second nipple "offense." Why not fine Imus a commensurate amount for his 10-second racial/sexual offense?

I have to believe that making Don Imus pay $1 million or so to a scholarship fund at Rutgers University has to be more productive--and a better force for good--than the public stoning of a cantankerous, old geezer guilty of crass comments.

portia said...

One more thing...

I'm not sure that the "biggest losers here are the young women of Rutgers." The unexpected spotlight shone on the Rutgers basketball team actually was a gift of sorts. If not for the Imus dust up, most of America would not have had the opportunity to witness the remarkable grace of these young women nor be aware of their collective--and individual--achievements.

At the press conference held to discuss Imus' remarks, the team's captain said [paraphrasing] "Where was all this media attention when we made it to the NCAA playoffs?"


spd rdr said...

A good point. I for one can say that I had no clue about who was playing in womens' finals. (That is a lie, of course. i knew that it was Rutgers and Tennessee, but I had no idea as to who the players were...and still don't.) As for Reverend Al... he'll always get a pass cause his bullhorn is louder than your logic.

The Reverend Al Sharpton said...

Ah ahm offended by this... this traveshamockery. Ah demand a happy post.

That's right. *Demanding*

A happy post. With pictures. Preferably about something stupid, like giant squid.

Cassandra said...

[tap, tap, tap...]

Still no squid. I am crushed :D

The Squid Clock said...


Cassandra said...

Day 6 of the Giant Squid Watch continues...