Don Imus, Again

Posted by: Jon Fine on April 10, 2007

First off: Don Imus is a moron. Although I must confess I held this opinion long before his latest round of idiocy.

One of the things I hate—and there are many—about the latest Imus controversy is how it’s playing out exactly according to script. The “edgy” “irreverent” loudmouth DJ (I can’t even type that description without rolling my eyes. And these DJs, by the way, are almost never funny. Not because they’re sexist or tasteless. Because they’re Just. Never. Funny. The DJs who play an outmoded game of shock—which is still part of Imus’ shtick, even if it’s not his only one—wouldn’t know funny if it was transformed into a raging flesh-eating zombie that ripped out their livers. But, excuse me, I’m just channeling Grindhouse. Now that was funny.) whose job it is to titillate listeners by coming agonizingly close to taking things too far says a really-bad thing. And then the whole damned media shame-spiral begins: recriminations, apologies, more apologies (someone please print up the Don Imus Apology Tour t-shirt, already), the trial-suspension since someone like Imus never gets fired outright, continuing calls for his head … and said damned cycle has to run its course only because the networks won’t fire him outright, and he won’t go on his own. Soon, although not soon enough, we will see if this ends in Imus going off the air for good or not. Right now this all feels as contrived and carefully choreographed as pro wrestling. Just far less entertaining. And I don’t even find pro wrestling entertaining.

Imus’ remarks are, as even he admits, indefensible. I don’t buy my colleague David Kiley’s argument that he outlines here on several levels, but this section in particular

First, how about some balance. This business of one sentence carelessly uttered on the airwaves wiping out years of good works seems pretty unfair. I’m suddenly reminded of how John Kerry’s war record was smeared dishonestly because of a few paragraphs he spoke to Congress more than thirty years ago about alleged war atrocities committed by U.S. servicemen. And his Presidential candidacy was wiped out with one misunderstood utterance, “I voted for it before I voted against it.”

is just totally wacky. John Kerry, for his manifold faults as a candidate, did not call anyone a nappy-headed ho. And, as Kiley (and others) have pointed out, this is hardly “one sentence carelessly uttered” by Imus or his team. They’ve got a long record of queasy-making race-related comments.

Should Imus be fired? If it were up to me I’d have canned Imus long ago, on the grounds he’s a dried-up hack (and taken a ratings hit for months to grow a decent next-generation replacement). A hack whose career, strangely, has been buoyed by the political establishment adopting him as a loony stepbrother of sorts. The mirror he holds up to them is not pretty. It says quite a bit about the culture of the Beltway that a figure as patently ridiculous and behind-the-times as Imus qualifies as “edgy” to them.

And it probably takes a comment as publicized as Imus’ last for them to drop him at long last, and finally swear off the kicky thrill they got from giggling alongside him on air.

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Reader Comments

Rhea

April 10, 2007 08:54 PM

I find that "Radio Talk Show Host" is often synonymous with "Complete Jerk."

don

April 11, 2007 09:44 AM

I've said it before and will say it again, the media, whether it be TV, internet, radio, or print needs to get out of the gadfly game because the angry soundbite is killing our culture. Make gadflies bad for business and people will stop hiring them. Radio didn't used to be NASCAR, where we stood around waiting for a nasty crash, it shouldn't be in the future.

Carol

April 11, 2007 07:15 PM

you have a small mind and a hard hart i hope you can lighten up and look at the bigger picture the man who has helped many many people.

p money

April 12, 2007 04:36 PM

imus is just another radio weenie that - despite being smarter than this - resigns himself to making inflamatory remarks, i.e., the other megaweenie stern. SOLUTION: let the market decide - if there enough racists to make an imus show fly, so be it; if there enough people with infantile senses of humor to keep stern on the air, so be it.......God forbid, in both cases.

Howard Lockwood

April 20, 2007 08:08 PM

Only a moron would call another person a moron, the old saying "it take's one to know one"

Richard Haris

April 28, 2007 02:28 PM

Imus is the definition of a class act. Somthing these boaring news readers critisizing him cannot understand.This man apparently is a very charitable human being that deserves more from CBS/NBC as a long time faithful employee. The silent majority will not support these sponsers or networks that bailed out on Imus and his charities.

Darcey

May 1, 2007 08:49 AM

I think The People are ready to bring Imus back.

Mary Mc Grath

May 2, 2007 12:44 PM

Don Imus needs to be brought back. I f you don't like his sense of humor, turn the channel. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are two of the most bigoted and hypocritical jerks that this nation has seen this century. I have watched and listened to Don Imus and he is an equal opportunity basher of all. But it is funny and Bernie and Charles need to come back too. We have come along way since slavery and this is a new generation. But Sharpton and Jackson would not have their mugs in the media if they didn't protest. Too many people(Al Campanis etc should not have lost their jobs over the pc world of Jackson and Sharpton. Believe me the Rutgers team was over next day

Alec

May 2, 2007 05:11 PM

This entire issue is just another example of special interest groups waiting for something upon which to pounce. It's really no different than "pro-family" groups that monitor TV shows for objectionable comment and write the FCC in response. Imus was just doing his job, making offensive comments about complete strangers in order to fill several hours of airtime. I'm not saying we should bring him back, in fact before this so-called controversy I thought he was dead.

walter thornton

May 2, 2007 07:51 PM

if mrimus wends this lawsuite he should go after sharpton@jackson for what they have done to mr don.

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The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.

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