Dead Air

April 11, 2007

I didn’t want to write anything about Don Imus’s bowels-to-mouth problem because I’m sick of the Pavlovian playground games set up by talk radio shock jocks: they say something outrageous, people protest, fans defend shock jock as equal-opportunity offender, ratings register the increased attention.

Yes, I broke my rule recently by writing about the anti-Latino hatenanny staged by Carton and Rossi on New Jersey WhineOhWhinePointJive, but mainly because I think it reflected a larger derangement within the Republican Party and the movement laughingly referred to as conservatism.

But the Imus situation doesn’t reflect anything more significant than the need of a hateful old white guy to fill a few minutes of air time with cheap yucks, and his decision to do so by smearing crap on the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. After watching this press conference by the players and their coach, I decided to toss in my two cents because entirely too many Big Time Media types have been going to bat for Imus, and because what he said was so pointlessly nasty and wounding.

I don’t care if Don Imus thinks he’s still a decent guy. I go with what the basketball players want. If they say they want him off the air, fine by me. If they can live with an apology, then I can live with it, too. If they say they want him impaled and mounted on the Pulaski Skyway, I say let’s sharpen up a stick. They worked hard, played harder and came within reach of the big brass ring, and instead of getting to bask in their accomplishment they’ve had to listen to guff from a prune-faced radio clown in a silly hat, and then listen to the guff from his fans.

There are people who tell me Imus is often very interesting and insightful, and that under the creepy I-Man persona there beats the heart of one of talk radio’s last real intellectuals. All I can say is, there must be a secret e-mail network that alerts people so they can listen to these moments of lucidity and wit. Whenever I’ve listened to the guy, he always comes across like an incontinent old dog farting up the living room. Maybe he does leave stains on both the left and the right sides of the carpet — so what? Old Yeller had a good long run, too, but even he finally had to be put to sleep when he couldn’t be trusted to behave right in public.

I can’t believe some of the half-smart arguments I’ve been hearing: the women shouldn’t be offended because rappers talk about black womenthat way all the time; the women shouldn’t be offended because they really are tough looking; the women should just laugh it off and be happy for the publicity.

Will everybody please get a grip? Those women weren’t politicians out trolling for votes or criminals wide open for scorn. They were athletes who played a damned good season of basketball. But to Don Imus they wre nothing more than caricatures to be used for coon-show jokes.

I would love to wake up one morning and discover that all talk radio shock jocks had suffered a mass crisis of conscience, quit their jobs and gone off to find honest employment at worthwhile jobs — leaving behind nothing but dead air, which would certainly be an improvement over what they’re filling it with now.


6 Responses to “Dead Air”

  1. Chucky Says:

    Imus is gone from MSNBC and may soon be gone from WFAN. Why? Major advertisers have bailed out — Procter & Gamble, General Motors, American Express. GE is feeling the heat. CBS will soon feel the heat.

    The worst may be yet to come: Channel 4 in New York reports the FCC will investigate Imus’s racist shtick on the Lady Knights. This is an FCC that until now was more concerned with women’s breasts.

    The Jersey Guys are angels compared to Imus.

  2. Alison Says:

    Pleaseohpleaseohplease! I wouldn’t mind seeing Rush, BillO, Malkin, and a few other folks banished from the airwaves as well, TV as well as radio. Either that, or a few more Keith Olbermann clones getting more airtime. Perhaps “The Daily Show” broadcast as educational TV in Middle and High Schools. . .I can dream, can’t I?

  3. Chucky Says:

    My prediction came true: Imus was fired today by CBS, which owns WFAN.

    The Liberal Media is crying crocodile tears because one of their own was exposed as a boorish, racist hack. Shed no tears for this power-loving lackey of all those boobs in Babylon.

  4. Scott Stiefel Says:

    I’ve said this at least half a dozen times, and I’ll say it again:
    It should have been solved with a basketball game.
    The championship night lineup, versus Imus and a minyan of morning radio DJs.
    Would’ve been a whole lot more interesting.

  5. Nordette Says:

    Steve, I wish I had seen your post sooner. I would have quoted you. When I first heard of Imus’ comment, I thought, “WOW! I didn’t know he was still alive.” I only started writing about it when I heard some of the arguments defending Imus.

    The number of people with journalism training presenting this as a free speech issue disturbs me. It seems some people will say anything to prove their down for being progressive.

    I wonder did they read the same books on libel, slander, and malicious intent that I did. If they’d like to go with the Rutgers women are public figures, then I suppose Little League teams with braces who happen to end up on TV are also now fair game for shock jocks and ridicule.

    I wonder what judge would want to classify college athletic teams who are only in the news for playing a sport as even “limited public figures” who may be ridiculed. Do we really want to see America dive deeper into nastiness for the hell of it?

    Still, if a judge ruled these young women are public figures, does that make Imus’ comments justifiable? Even public figures have rights when it comes to others telling hurtful lies about them, which is why years ago Carol Burnett was able to successfully sue the National Enquirer in 1981.

    Racial and misogyny issues aside, would they understand it better if he had called the Rutgers team “drug dealers.” Would they get it then that Imus’ comment is closer to slander; that it’s neither parody nor satire. Do they not realize that “ho” means “whore”? What if he had said, “yeah, that bunch of whores”? I wonder if on some level do they believe the Rutgers women deserve the slur.

    Imus went so far later in defending himself to say the words like “nappy-head” and “ho” originated with black people. And people are going with that like that don’t realize “ho” is mispronunciation of “whore” and that word did not originate in the black community. Furthermore, neither did the term “nappy head.” Thanks to gangsta rap black women hear those words more than they should, but the words did not come from the black community. I think some people know history in terms of the last three minutes and that’s it. Even if the words could be traced to originating in the black community, which they certainly cannot, would that make a good defense for Imus?

    While I deplore gangsta rap, even those comparisons don’t fly. For one, people have been complaining about the gangsta rap’s misogynistic, racist language and its promotion of self-hatred since it began to gain mass audiences. But if people want to compare apples to apples rather than apples to bananas, then they should think back to the Guns ‘N Roses controversy. They couldn’t be stopped for the same reason activists who protest gangsta rap can’t stop gangsta rappers.

    I’m not a big fan of Al Sharpton either, but I wonder if people honestly think Sharpton got Imus off the air as some of them seem to say they do. Sponsors jumping ship knocked Imus off the air. If his sponsors had stood by him; he’d be running until the FCC said stop or until his fan base died.

    He’s gone but still free to speak his mind and insult as many people as he likes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he turns up on radio again in the future.

    PS: The team was right not to call for his firing. Imagine all the attacks members would endure from some of these anti-Sharpton, gangsta-rap-invoking, pro-Imus people if the team had said they wanted Imus fired.

  6. Nordette Says:

    Ooops! I should’ve proofed my comment first. LOL.

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