Why does Imus still have a job?

In case you managed to miss it, long-time serial racist Don Imus struck again last week, calling the Rutgers women’s hoops team “nappy-headed hos” on his nationally syndicated show. Imus has a well established reputation for racial slander, and some of the people he invites on his show (like “sports announcer” Sid Rosenberg and producer Bernard McGuirk – who later in the same show characterized the Rutgers/Tennessee matchup as “the Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes”) are as bad or worse.

This isn’t a one-off. This is merely the latest in a fairly appalling string of incidents that has me wondering – never mind why Imus hasn’t been fired for last week’s slur, why the hell was he still on the air to start with? His past record qualifies him for the job of communication director at Storm Front, and he should have been freed from his contract to pursue that gig a long time ago.

So, some questions to ponder:

  • Obviously, why is MSNBC still packing him along? NBC called the comments “deplorable,” and yet the show hasn’t been turfed.
  • By the way, isn’t Keith Olbermann on MSNBC?
  • How come we haven’t heard from Imus’ buddy, Dem presidential hopeful Joe Biden?
  • Why did NBC’s Tim Russert, allegedly a real journalist, go on Imus’ show the next day and act like nothing had happened?
  • I’d love to know what other folks associated with Imus’ radio home, WFAN, think about his race-busting. You know, people like the extremely multi-cultural New York Mets?
  • What the hell is Myles Brand, president of the NCAA, smoking? He correctly notes that “It is unconscionable that anyone would use the airways to utter such disregard for the dignity of human beings who have accomplished much and deserve great credit.” But then his mind goes walkabout: “It is appropriate that Mr. Imus and MSNBC have apologized.” It might be appropriate that he apologize after a first offense where there was no suggestion of a pattern of behavior. After this many offenses it’s appropriate that he be thrown bodily out the door by security.

The fact that this isn’t happening and that so many people are responding with silence and/or cluelessness $uggest$ that $omething el$e could be driving M$NBC’$ thinking. I ju$t have no idea what it could be.

I’m not a big Al Sharpton fan, but his threat to picket the building until Imus is fired shows that somebody is at least paying attention.

Imus should have been gone a long time ago. He may be gone yet. Stay tuned.



32 thoughts on “Why does Imus still have a job?

  1. I know you’ll have a fit about this, but I’d put this under “freedom of speech.” I don’t think MS-NBC should fire the guy. Unless, of course, it results in a loss of viewers/listeners and/or advertising dollars. If people still listen to him even after he’s demonstrated a pattern of racism, that says more about his audience than it does about the network.
    From what little I know about him, he seems to be doing a lot of good things, too. Doesn’t he have a couple of big time charities going? That doesn’t justify his language, I know, but it’s something. People are complicated. Deal with it.
    It’s a stretch, but I think this is why we also have such a crappy field of politicians from which to choose. Seems backasswards when every word is scrutinized to death and words are more important than deeds. The way things are now, we end up with two-dimensional piss ant candidates who play the polls rather than come up with “new ideas” because “new ideas” will always offend SOMEONE.
    Granted, “nappy headed ho’s” or whatever Imus said isn’t in the same category, but his particular job is to be funny. This was a bad joke told in bad taste that failed miserably. What if his name was Chris Rock and he said something about the “tight-ass crackers winning out over Tiger Woods” in the Masters this weekend (in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually DID say something like this)? Would we even be having this discussion?
    If you’re not taking risks, you’re not doing your job.

  2. Nice try. But even if I buy the philosophy here – note the word “if” – the example of a racist talk show host doesn’t apply. Pols being PC is one thing, Imus being a serial racist is another.
    This is like arguing that poleaxing an opponent in the face with a hockey stick is okay because hockey is a contact sport.

  3. That’s even more irrelevant than your last comment.
    However, I will allow this much. In our system of government and economics, he has the right to say it and MSNBC has the right to air it.
    The rest of us have the right to call for his head and boycott the channel and its advertisers.
    So on paper, things are working precisely as they were designed to by the Founding Fathers.

  4. No, my understanding of how American Culture functions is that we have options. Other cable channels. If this was my only source of information/entertainment, then I can almost agree with you. But this is one of 200 channels (1 of 4 or 5 from NBC). I’ll even say this is 1 of 2 or 3 companies running cable news. But there’s also the Blogisphere. If anything this is a reason to KEEP his ass talking. While everyone else picks him apart. Just to show to the world how idiotic his ideas about race really are.

  5. In your view, does it matter that an exceedingly high percentage of all media outlets are owned by an extremely small handful of homogenous companies?

  6. That’s why i said “owned by 2 or 3 companies”. And, at least so far, the Blogisphere is still relatively free from meddling. But even within those 2 or 3 companies, there’s SOME BS control. You don’t think comedy central is going nuts over this? The Daily Show is probably taking bets on this whole thing.

  7. So we don’t need to worry about 95% of the media service to the culture so long as people can read blogs. Because blogs are the important driver in the shaping of America’s perceptions of race, gender, morality, etc.?

  8. I didn’t say that. But if you’ve been watching the news today, pretty much every channel, including the local news, is talking about this. So, the system is sorta working despite it’s flaws. Well, at least until they get distracted by Anna Nicole’s kid’s DNA report to be released tomorrow.
    I think this’ll work itself out. Like it did with Rush on MNF.

  9. Just that you wanted him fired for something he said. I was saying he should be fired if and when what he said got him into enough trouble to cause negative cash flow issues for MS-NBC.
    But isn’t that always the case for serious social change? It only happens when rich people start losing $$$?

  10. I want him fired for being an appalling serial racist, which is something I think is bad for the culture. Some people make their decisions based on profitability, but those of us with souls make decisions based on worthy humanist values. Our tactics may take commercial form, of course.
    In other words, I like it when people do the right thing for the right reasons. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons beats doing the wrong thing.
    I’m hard pressed to think what has had a worse impact on our society than the creeping tendency to evaluate EVERYTHING in terms of money. That makes us a society of whores, with the only distinction left being how nice a whorehouse we can afford to live in.

  11. So, now you are the Morality Police for the rest of us? Look, I’m not arguing that what he said wasn’t bad. But I like the idea of “the masses” deciding what is morally acceptable. And I also like the idea of people like you Educating the masses when they’re full of crap. I DON’T like the idea of you deciding what I should see or hear (even if, in most cases, you are absolutely right about the content). Money is one way of doing that and, unfortunately, it’s the one method of “voting” most Americans actually USE.
    If anything, you should be making the argument that the whole idea of mass communication should be changed, not that this one individual should be fired.

  12. Verily, you have lost your mind. We can worry about me being the morality police when I get some power. In the meantime, I think you just called everyone who makes an informed value judgment the morality police. I can only hope that I’m reading satire here.

    And I also like the idea of people like you Educating the masses when they’re full of crap. I DON’T like the idea of you deciding what I should see or hear (even if, in most cases, you are absolutely right about the content)

    1: I’m still waiting for some indication that Americans are being educated, by me or anyone else.
    2: I haven’t decided what anyone should see or hear. I have decided that something is morally appalling and have moved to use my 1st Amendment guarantees to effect what change I can. In other words, I’m behaving in textbook Jeffersonian fashion – seriously, this is a CASE STUDY for how the system is supposed to work. I believe that if enough folks agree with me, then other agents in the system (here, MSNBC) will respond by exercising THEIR freedoms in the way that they think serves their best interests.
    Honestly, I’m playing hell trying to figure out what your issue is. If you genuinely believe in the Constitution, you should have no problem at all with me making informed assessments of public events and responding within the system, as prescribed by the Founding Fathers.
    (By the way, I have so far played along with your notion that public airwaves are somehow like the print press, when in fact they’re a regulated public resource that’s governed by a whole ‘nother set of public interest rules. Don’t make me bring legal realities into it.)

  13. Haha. Of course you should go about trying to convince others to agree with you. That’s my point. When enough people agree to flip the channel, that he doesn’t have any entertainment value, the I-Man will become a financial liability to the station and he will get fired. Firing him before that happens means that a small number of people are making decisions for a large number of people.
    You might not like the method, and you not might like the “ends justify the means” rationale, but that’s the way it seems to work. Of course, the “means” is also why we have Howard Stern and…well…the other Howard Stern.

  14. I think you’re missing the point. Imus should have been fired long ago because he’s a bore. This guy is the most unfunny radio personality I’ve ever listened to. That being said I took his remarks as an attempt to be funny, but it’s not funny coming from an white dude who looks like he’s 80, and wears a cowboy hat. If you listen to any other radio personality this is nothing, period. But if I was a Black person I’d upset, actually I’d be more upset with Sharpton. This guy acts like he’s the ambassador of all Black people. (See Southpark season premier.) I don’t listen to Imus because basically he sucks, but I guess people are forced to make a big deal about it because he’s on one of the big 3 cable news outlets and supposedly relevant. File this under over reaction.
    Prediction, Imus will go on an apology campaign. Meanwhile Sharpton and Jackson will get some level of credit to boost their already large egos.

  15. Just in from CNN
    — Controversial radio host Don Imus will be suspended for two weeks starting Monday April 16, NBC reports.
    That just came out on CNN’s email list. 🙂

  16. http://www.southparkzone.com
    Go to this link and look for the Jessie Jackson episode.
    I saw just heard, and it was pathetic. I also was watching some ESPN and saw the media circus at Rutgers. This is honestly one of the most blown out of proportion things I’ve ever seen. I know I “don’t get it” because I’m not black but it’s really just another one of Don’s attempt at an unfunny joke. I’m really starting to wonder if the reason he’s getting so much flack from the press is because of what an asshole he is. What little time I spent in radio biz there was a common conscious that Imus is just a grumpy prick. However shock jocks like Stern and Opie and Anthony are usually regarded as overly nice people yet they say far worse. I’m wondering if this is a result of Imus pissing off so many insiders? Just think ten years ago one of his interns was probably getting him coffee and he yelled at them because it only had one sugar, now that person writes for the NY Times or something. Now that those people are the other “voice” they’re keeping legs on this story.
    Colon Cowherd made a good point on his radio show last week, he was talking about how the media gave a pass to Tony Kornheiser on MNF because he’s “one of them,” and he’s a great guy even though he really didn’t add too much to the broadcast. However over the years they rip everyone else.
    Sitting at lunch break last night me and a mix of all races were just laughing at how out of control the media is playing this Imus thing. The conscious among blacks was “who the fuck is Imus” then they laughed at what he said. This reminds me of a black comedian a while back who did a skit about white people in a restaurant getting offended by black people using the N word. I’m not saying what he said may not have been offensive, but it’s just a bit overboard considering I hear black people say nappy hair and ho about 3 times a day at work. Who knows maybe Imus was just emulating black culture dog.
    Either way I represent the most made fun of ethnicity in the world, and since yesterday was Dingus Day I’m not going to stand for it any more! I’m moving back to the mother land, good old Polska. I’m going to go get my buddies to help me screw in this light bulb first. After that I need to look up the recipe for ice.

  17. Is Imus the worst? I doubt it. You don’t want to know what I think of the Sterns of the world. But you know, he said what he said, and there’s a LONG pattern of it. I’m sure some are overreacting, but there’s plenty of room for right-sized reacting, too.

  18. Oh yeah I know. I guess it’s all who it comes from really. It’s just funny that people treat Imus like someone who’s relevant. I honestly don’t know anyone who listens to this guy. I place him in the Ann Coulter arena. Someone who is just there to laugh at because he’s so out of touch. With Imus he’s more out of touch with his jokes, with Ann it’s more reality. I hate Imus because of his lame jokes more then anything else. Just think what the most listened to show in 2 weeks is going to be, this is the best thing that ever happened to this guy.

  19. I know he has an audience but this will for sure boost any ratings he would have normally had. I’d rather this douche just fade away, sort of like that crap band Creed. But the media and people like us have to talk about this guy. However if we don’t “talk” about it then we’re doing minorities an injustice. Double edged sword here. The one good thing about this is that the more Don talks the more people suddenly realize what an assbag this guy is.

  20. It’ll pop his ratings – and the suspension ends just in time for sweeps. But the funny thing is that all the apologizing is eroding his core audience, so he may suffer in the long run.

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