Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Keep Getting Pulled Back In

by Ken Houghton

This is for Max.

I wasn't going to do this—as I said below, others have covered this ground, well—but the homemade CD I brought for the car today refused to play anything past Track 1, so I had to shift to the radio. And since my normal listening station was doing Yeshiva League Sports Updates (like regular sports updates, but with more cliches), I was left flipping between Whoopie, the Rock of New Jersey, and New York's Classic Rock station (if Classic Rock were limited to White bands).

And Jim Kerr,* who should know better, started talking about Imus.

Defending Imus.

Defending dialog of which Ron Allen of MSNBC rightly notes:
But I still can't forget those words: "nappy headed hos," and then more banter about "jigaboos and wannabes." Where did that come from? How could Imus -- and don't forget his producer -- feel comfortable enough to think that's funny? How could they not anticipate a firestorm? When people speak that way publicly, it makes you wonder what's said, and felt, in private?

If you say the words out loud rather than just listening to them or reading them, each carries even more power. And they strike at the heart of the negative images that so many people have fought so many battles to rid our culture and society of. When I hear those words, I think of people I know -- the insults they endured, and more importantly, the injustices along the way. We're reminded that some of America's most horrible history -- history we hope to leave in our past -- happened during our lifetimes. We're reminded of parents and grandparents who combed and brushed our tightly curled hair.

Kerr* inadvertently let slip the whole reason for the fooforah:
It's radio's Spring Sweeps time.

Imus is getting a lot of free publicity. It's probably the first time people are talking about him in several years.

Kerr* presented the other BS defences: he's doing comedy, he's been humiliated enough, he's tried to make things right with Coach Stringer and her players,** he's really, really sorry and it will never happen again (this was, after all, only the 47th time, give or take a few). UPDATE: And, of course, he attacked the character of Imus's attackers.

UPDATE: Via Dr. Black, Imus appears to be getting tired of making fake apologies, or, as he calls it, "playing."

I was going to do a furious post about that this morning—I'm reprogramming the radio, removing Q104.3 from autosets—but then I saw the comments of another MSNBC-affiliated professional . Al Roker:
Don and his wife have done a lot of good things—raising money for charity, including a ranch for children suffering from cancer and blood disorders.

Yet, Don Imus needs to be fired for what he said. And while we’re at it, his producer, Bernard McGu[i]rk, needs to be canned as well. McGu[i]rk is just as guilty, often egging Imus on.***

The “I’m a good person who said a bad thing” apology doesn’t cut it. At least he didn’t try to weasel out of this by hiding behind alcohol or drug abuse. Still, he said it and a two-week suspension doesn’t cut it. It is, at best, a slap on the wrist. A vacation. Nothing....

Don Imus should do the right thing and resign. Not talk about taking a two-week suspension with dignity. I don’t think Don Imus gets it.

That's an understatement. Imus has been on a Glorious Tour: yesterday, Sharpton. Today, Today. Imus can, and probably will, spend the two weeks of his "suspension" appearing all over the place, receiving scale and keeping himself in the spotlight. Roker again:
After watching and listening to him this morning during an interview with Matt Lauer, Don Imus doesn’t get it. Maybe it’s being stuck in a studio for 35 years or being stuck in the 1980’s. Either way, it’s obvious that he needs to move on. Citing “context within a comedy show” is not an excuse.

He has to take his punishment and start over. Guess what? He’ll get re-hired and we’ll go on like nothing happened. CBS Radio and NBC News needs to remove Don Imus from the airwaves. That is what needs to happen. Otherwise, it just looks like profits and ratings rule over decency and justice.

Roker declares that the best case is that Imus gets a new job elsewhere. And declares himself the "victim," while the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team—which performed beyond all expectation, doesn't have a senior on it, and has been the only classy thing about this entire roundelay—has to wonder how they got shunted and shamed and became pariahs for coming within one game of a National Championship.

*UPDATE: Corrected, and my deepest apologies to Pat St. John for the initial mistake.

**He'll get the chance, privately, which is another indication that the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team and their coach have more class and style than Imus ever will, and that the remark is, if anything, even more over the line than it was when uttered.

***This has been underemphasized. It was McGuirk, after all, who first irrredemably described the Rutgers team as "some hard-core hos," and continued by describing the game as "The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes" If anything, Imus's initial response was a downplaying of McGuirk's statement.

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