Monday, April 09, 2007


MSNBC is suspending Don Imus from the network starting April 16 for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hoes."

Imus has expressed regret for what he has said. He appeared on Al Sharpton's radio show today to apologize again for the comment. He has said that he will change the level of discourse on his program going forward as a result of this controversy.

What a joke.

Don Imus has made a career out of making fun of black people, Hispanic people, gay people, handicapped people, Jewish people, etc., etc., etc. The people on his show - like producer Bernard McGuirk, "newsman" Charles McCord, and the comedy guys (I can't remember their names right now) - have made careers out of making fun of black people, Hispanic people, gay people, handicapped people, Jewish people, etc., etc., etc. One of his former team guys, Sid Rosenberg, was fired for saying about breast cancer victim Kylie Mingoue "... ain't gonna be so beautiful when the bitch got bald head and one titty." Rosenberg also referred to the Williams sisters as "animals." Imus has referred to PBS newswoman Gwen Ifill as a "cleaning lady."

That's the reality. Now Imus isn't an awful human being. He's not Dick Cheney. He has helped kids with cancer and helped raise money for a sickle-cell anemia cure. During Hurricane Katrina, Imus spent a lot of time on the way the government failed to help African Americans and/or poor people. He has done an awful lot for drug and alcohol recovery.

Nonetheless, at base, Imus' program uses racial humor, sexist humor, and humiliation humor and has become enormously popular as a result. Mainstream journalists (e.g., Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, Jeff Greenfield, David Gregory) and politicians (e.g., Holy Joe Lieberman, St. John McCain, Chris Dodd,) appear on the program all the time, often right after "comedy bits" that make fun of homosexuals or handicapped people (ever catch the fake Brian Wilson character they use on the program? Nothing like making fun of a mentally-handicapped person...) and never say a word about the crap Imus or one of his henchmen have said right before their appearances.

So for the MSNBC brass or the phonies in the media or the political world to make believe that what Don Imus said last week about the Rutgers women's basketball team was somehow out of character for the Imus program is hypocritical and false.

The MSNBC brass and GE stockholders have made a ton of money off the racist, sexist, and humiliation humor on the Imus program. The media elite have sold lots of books as a result of their appearances on Imus. Politicians have used the Imus program for their own expedient reasons. Rarely have any of these Imus regulars balked when his program made fun of mentally-handicapped people or women or people of color. For them to now make believe that they are offended by what he said about the Rutgers women is, frankly, hypocritical bullshit.

So come on MSNBC, come on Howard Fineman, come on Tim Russert, come on David Gregory, come on Jeff Greenfield, come on Holy Joe Liberman, come on St. John McCain - you know you think it's funny when Imus refers to black women as nappy-headed hoes or makes fun of handicapped people or gay people or whatever minority group he and his henchmen have targeted for the moment. Otherwise you would have said something before this about the "humor" used on the program..

So don't turn on Imus during his moment of need. Instead, tell America how funny you think the shit Imus says is. And then keep selling your books and your political campaigns on his program.

It's better to be honest about it.

I occasionally catch a portion of Imus due to insomnia, and I'd like to say this in his defense:

First, he's an unreconstructed ol' country boy, and he doesn't pretend otherwise. He's not an arbiter of taste, style or thought like many of the other talking heads are.
His humor, while a bit under-the-toilet for my taste, is infrequent enough to be only moderately objectionable. (You mean that crap was supposed to be funny?)
He often does interviews with common-sense politicians and authors from the moderate left side of the political spectrum, and generally treats them with respect (although he got a bit more playful with Maureen Dowd than was appropriate, enough to make her clearly uncomfortable).
Like most in the ranching business, he's a closet environmentalist.
His musical guests tend to be certain nostalgia for someone from West Texas -- Jerry Lee Lewis can hardly walk, but he can sure play a mean piano -- although I'm sure many sound like a cat caught in a screen door to most other audiences.
In considering the offending comment itself, remember that during Imus' college days, most schools had an athletes' dorm where guys who were big and mean enough got special food, no restrictions, compulsory underage drinking and buckiets of money for being able to put butts in the seats and alumnii checks in the mail. Prime example from my own school was EJ Hollub, who was reputed to be dumber than a turnip, but could block a defending steamroller to a standstill. He was also thought to be involved in every bit of egregious devilry within 50 miles or so, but that could be just legend based on fact. As a result, dumbjocks were not held in high regard by the academically inclined, which Imus might have been.

In any case, think how much worse it could get if the I-man is replaced. Prejudiced or no, his brand of trash talk is infinitely preferable to the thinly-disguised hate speech of a dozen or more talking heads who pretend to be smarter than us peons -- O'Reily, Hannity, Mathews and the like. If he still gives you a headache, take two hours of Ann Coulter or that bitch who's married to James Carville, and call me in the morning.

(Not entirely tounge-in-cheek)
Actually, that "bitch who's married to Carville" (Mary Matalin) is a frequent guest on Imus. I remember actually when he got her all upset by saying Scooter Libby was a lying weasel who was going to jail. It was pretty funny...

I first heard Imus back on WNBC radio when I was in the 7th or 8th grade. That was around 1980. His schtick then was pretty silly, but it was AM radio. I didn't listen much. I next remember hearing Imus around 1988 or 1989. He had gotten sober and the show had changed. It was more political. WNBC was now WFAN and Imus was the big moneymaker for this all-sports station. I listened occasionally and continued to listen occasionally through the years. For a while in the 90's I was a regular listener. Now I occasionally have the show on, mostly because I can't stand Soledad O'brien or Miles O'brien on CNN's morning show. But a lot of the time I have to turn Imus off too because it's so silly or offensive. The Brian Wilson character drives me up a wall. So does the fake blues musician. The interviews are okay, but the "comedy" is kinda stupid and adolescent.

None of this means Imus should be fired. I just think it's hypocritical of the press people and politicians to suddenly say how "shocked" they are by Imus' comments when that has been the tone of the show for as long as I can remember.

You have an excellent point about Rush and the other winger haters, kicksiron. While Imus is being lambasted for his comments, Rush gets away with calling Obama a "halfrican" and using other slurs and offensive speech.
Something else occurred to me. There's a guy from Standards and Practices that sits up in the booth with a kill switch. The actual feed is delayed 5 seconds so that guy can bleep out anything so offensive that it can't be broadcast. Either that guy was busy playing with himself at the time, or that speech actually conforms to MSNBC's standards for Imus' program. If anything, MSNBC sholud be as busy issuing mea culpas as Imus, and that may be why Imus doesn't sound terribly pleased about issuing an apology.

By the way, Soledad's a FOX. I just mute the sound and letch away. I'll miss her.
"Either that guy was busy playing with himself at the time, or that speech actually conforms to MSNBC's standards for Imus' program."

You've hit on it exactly, kicksiron - nobody blinked when he said what he said because that's the normal discourse for the program.
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