Sunday, April 15th, 2007...8:13 pm

Thanks to Imus and the media, We All Get HO-sed

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Don Imus said something stupid. He’s been doing that for years. I used to listen to Imus in high school. My dad would sometimes listen to the show and I guess he got me into it. I already listened to WFAN all day long so I didn’t even have to turn the dial in the morning. In fact, my accounting teacher, Mr. Green, was a huge IMUS fan and got such a kick out of the fact that I was familiar with the show that he called me Bernie for the entire year.

Imus is a pompous curmudgeon. It’s amazing that he has any credibility at all as he has spent much of his life hopped up on drugs and alcohol. I’m not sad to see him go. He’s been mouthing off for long enough and frankly it gets old.

I am pissed about how this all went down. The whole ordeal reeks of self-interest, hypocrisy and plain old bullshit. A slew of carpetbaggers all tried to further their own agenda and all this double talk about accountability and morality is void of just that.

I’m not sure how to eloquently weave together all that I find ridiculous so I’m going to list each of my issues.

I’m not sure to what degree the term “nappy headed ho’s” is racist or sexist. I do think the females on the Rutgers basketball team have a right to be offended, but I wouldn’t be all that outraged as a listener. It seems like most listeners felt the same way. Most people didn’t think twice about the slurs when Imus first said it and the issue really didn’t pick up steam until a few days later when the bloggers dug their claws into it. Imus has been saying stuff like this for years. I’m positive he says something offensive in every single show. His targets are Catholics and jews, Asians and Hispanics. If people want to judge Imus, he should be judged on his whole body of work not on one random term.

Michael Wilbon did this in his column when he wrote: “I don’t care whether Don Imus apologizes, or whether he’s fired. Freedom of speech allows him to say whatever he wants to say. But I’ve got freedom of speech, as well, and I prefer to have the right to rip his face off in print and on TV for saying, repeatedly, the racially offensive stuff he says over and over and over and over. He compares blacks and Hispanics to apes all the time. ALL THE TIME. It’s not rare, it’s not an exception. It’s not a one-time deal. ALL THE TIME. He and the people in his studio act as if all Blacks are pimps and whores and all have gold teeth and are illiterate…I’m glad I’m guaranteed the right to come right back at a bigot of this level and say whatever I want to say…And I’m happy to go toe-to-toe. Happy to.”

Media Frenzy

The media took this story and blew it up to the point where media coverage became the story. Political strategist, and Imus friend and frequent guest James Carville said “All the elements were there. You had some dry brush, gasoline, high winds, no rain and low humidity and before you know it, man, it was a wildfire.”

Perhaps this is media at it’s most narcissistic, with many news organizations over-valuing the importance of this story just because it involves their industry. The firestorm of news coverage added to the chaos and gave this story legs. Coverge became so intense that sponsors were forced to pull out of their advertising deals, CBS changed IMUS’s penalty from a suspension to a lynching, and opportunistic media whores flocked to the debate to see their names in the papers.

“The Line”
Nobody knows where it is and therefore nobody knows if and when it is being crossed. As a result a coalition of bloggers, reporters or interest groups can cry wolf over anything and be heard. It becomes more difficult to discredit claims because nobody knows what is offensive and what is just an opinion. Olbermann stated that he will scrutinize Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly to find opinions that he can turn into a racist remark. I imagine many people are looking to bait others into saying something inappropriate, and I would imagine many people are going to be much more tight-lipped in the future. Scaring people into not expressing their opinions can be as harmful and dangerously effective as spewing offensive rhetoric.

CBS stalled hoping this would all blow over. Finally, when sponsors pulled, they decided to terminate Imus and talked about changing the culture that permits a certain level of objectionable and hateful expression. BS.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson did their usual thing by stirring up a commotion. I’m not sure what Al Sharpton’s ultimate objectives are but I fail to see how he stands for equality and tolerance. It seems to me like the Rutgers administration, Coach Stringer and the members of the basketball team were pretty capable of handling the situation and did so in a most admirable way.

The only people who didn’t have a comment are the many guests of Imus who had used his show as a platform to let loose and promote their policies, books and political agendas. They were conspicuously quiet as they did their best to disassociate from the whole big mess. Don Imus has to be feeling pretty lonely right now as virtually nobody seemed to come to his aid (Mike & The Mad Dog being the exception).

I’m not sure how all the pieces will finally fall into place but I’m disgusted. I’m more distrustful than ever of the media. Media will become more niche and segregated as people are afraid to voice their opinions to anybody other than supporters. I’m nervous.