Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Done in by Media Mobsters

At first the Don Imus imbroglio amused me. Then it irritated me. Now I’m mad. CBS and MSNBC have both fired Imus for his bigoted comments. Sure, they have the right to fire whomever they choose. But that doesn’t make their decision anything more than a sad commentary on the failings of modern society and modern media in particular.

Imus has been a so-called shock jock for a long time and has uttered an uncountable number of insensitive remarks over the years. CBS and NBC knew who he was and what he was likely to say. Yet this mildly racist, undeniably sexist comment gets him axed? Why? The answer is simple: the media needed the next sensationalistic story. Once that story was running nonstop, advertisers got scared and pulled away. CBS is just following its advertisers who are following the media who are following the immature, irresponsible, narrow-minded ideology that far too often masquerades as journalism these days.

Not only is this a complete overreaction to the crime committed, but it sets a horrible example. First, Imus’ quick and seemingly sincere apologies are being completely ignored. The lesson? It’s best not to speak at all than risk saying something you regret – your apologies will not be accepted.

The second horrible lesson is summed up in the statements of Les Moonves, the president of CBS who said: "There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society. That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision."

So that’s how it is now? Instead of teaching our youth to stand up to adversity and shrug off the idiots of the world, we’re telling them that they must be protected from all slights less their poor fragile egos will crumple and die. The women Imus insulted are incredibly talented, college-educated women who had the strength to pull off a Cinderella basketball season. We don’t need to protect them from the likes of Don Imus. Please. That’s horribly insulting to these young women.

Really, I couldn’t care less about Imus. I’ve rarely listened to him and consider him no better than a more political, less scatological Howard Stern. His comments were abhorrent. I have not the slightest desire to stand near the man. But I can’t stay silent. Just because I don’t care for the man doesn’t mean I shouldn’t call a wrong a wrong.

Imus is being unfairly punished by a nauseatingly righteous bunch of media mobsters and their cohorts. What’s worse is that those leading the pitchfork-and-torches charge are ostensibly from the left. If liberals no longer have the stomach to stand up for free speech (even when that speech is insulting or idiotic), then who will?

The whole thing makes me sick. My apologies for the rant. Some events simply demand an outraged blog post.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:38 PM  
Blogger Michael D. said...

We sometimes find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we have to defend someone we really don't like. But the fact is if we don't, who will defend us when it is our turn to have our rights violated?

8:11 PM  
Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Nice. You should cut loose more often.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Dennis Sanders said...

Amen, Alan. Amen.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Damozel said...

I don't think "hurt feelings" is the issue so much as a lowering of standards that have always applied. I think you are underestimate the degree to which words actually change reality. People internalize what they hear and infer; tolerating Imus simply sends the message that the attitudes his words imply (whether he in fact holds them himself) are acceptable.

My problem with NBC and so on is the hypocrisy of permitting him to carry on as he has done for years, only to knuckle under at the first sign of controversy. As you point out, this was a comparatively mild example.

The problem I have with Imus's dismissal is that his corporate masters have benefited for years from appeal to a particular demographic....only to be cowed by a stupid controversy for which he has now attempted, to the best of his ability, to apologize. (I say this because all the evidence I've seen points to his not even understanding why people have reacted with outrage.)

I'd have preferred a more enjoyable penance, such as the opportunity to witness him try to operate within the constraints of "political correctness" (or, as I call it, "common civility and decent respect for the feelings of others").

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Hamilton said...

Imagine a large group of people who have never heard or heard of Mr. Imus.

They see a blurb on Sports Center and hear / watch his comments out-of-context. They then hear / watch those comments repeated ad naseum through the media.

Persons like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh who make offensive statements on a regular basis are known for it and are popular for it.

To many, all they ever knew of Imus was a burst of racist / sexist comments. I think the "cute" and "Spike Lee" comments (and laughter) only made things worse.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Damozel said...

I thought I'd edit my comment retrospectively, since it of course is not NBC but CBS (!)...

9:11 AM  
Blogger cakreiz said...

I often agree with you, Alan. Here, while I understand your position, I'm on the other side. My theory is that Imus' demise came as a result of his mixed format: a relatively serious national news program with a shock-jock component. Given this backdrop, what would otherwise be a mundane shock-jock slur became more shocking. Imus at once sought legitimacy and anarchy, and it finally caught up to him. As long as he targeted public figures, he got away with a lot. That finally changed last week. He lived by a sword and died by it.

3:52 PM  
Blogger cakreiz said...

There's another component that made this more acceptable for me. It wasn't government regulation that mandated it. For good or bad, it was the marketplace- the networks, their sponsors, coemployees, the public, race and women's rights advocates, bloggers- that entered into the fray and mixed it up. Canning Imus wasn't a perfect solution; it probably won't change much. But the marketplace of ideas kicked into action, and that's the judgment that came down.

3:58 PM  

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