Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who the F is Don Imus?

Since this is all that's been in the news for the entire week, I feel compelled to offer some commentary on this Don Imus situation. Fortunately, I've been studying for the Series 65 exam (don't ask) and it's kept me away from most of it.

First off, until this week, I've never even heard of Don Imus. I could not have picked the man out of a lineup. I could not have identified his name as someone who is on the radio (or television). I think he looks an awful lot like a homeless man. I have no idea who he is, what he thinks or acts like, or what format his radio show is. I think I had a jean jacket like that in 6th grade.

Anyway, I trust that you don't need me to give you the full scoop on what's gone on, but the real brief summary is that, on his radio show, he referred to the Rutgers women's baskball team as "nappy headed ho's" supposedly in some kind of joke context. I don't know. I didn't hear it, but supposedly this guy is some kind of Howard Stern-like character which explains (1) why I didn't hear it and (2) why he would say something as idiotic as that.

You don't need me to tell you that what he said was... well... the stupid kind of crap you just shouldn't listen to.

So there's a bunch of hoopla, he ends up on the reverend Al Sharpton's show (I didn't know he had a show either - maybe I should sign up for one of these things if they are just handing them out to anyone), and apologizes. Then he meets the basketball team and apologizes.

Alright. Whatever. I don't care.

His TV spot on MSNBC got canceled. Ok. From what I can see, MSNBC isn't exactly hitting it out of the park in the ratings department, so avoiding controversy probably isn't a bad move.

Then today, CBS cancels his radio show. I guess the guy has been on for 30 years or something (who knew?). *This* is what I find a little strange.

Now, if CBS just doesn't want to be associated with this guy, then good for them. Kick him to the curb. If they think his ratings will drop tremendously and they'll lose sponsors and revenue, then yeah, out the door you go.

But, if they are doing this because of some kind of political pressure, then, well , what the hell. The statement from CBS reads to me to be a little political in nature.

"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," CBS President Leslie Moonves.
That, to me, seems political. Why not just tell it like it is? "Don Imus is a jackass who's fatheaded remarks will cost this network millions. We kicked his nappy-headed butt to the curb. Good riddance." ... something like that anyway.

For one thing, costing your employer is plenty of good reason to give someone the ax. Although, I doubt that he *did* cost them any money - at least not yet. If anything, more people are aware of the show and will tune in, at least for a little while. Sponsors may pull so as not to be associated with Imus, even with the larger audience, but I read nothing of the sort.

Then I'm reading about Al Sharpton and his blathering on about cleaning up the public airwaves. He says:
"It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves."
Are you serious? The beginning of what? Who needs to have this broad discussion, and with whom? Is he going to call for stations to stop playing Snoop Dogg next? I mean come on - no one is forced to listen to any radio station, and if people opt not to listen, then that person, artist, company, whatever, will go out of business. Period. God Bless Capitalism (tm).

This kind of chatter troubles me, because Al Sharpton is a political figure, and if he's advocating going through political/government channels to get some dude kicked off the air for using language that, while ignorant, is present in all kinds of music, movies, television, and otherwise, it's a disturbing attempt to quell free speech.

Imus can say what he wants, and he must live with the consequences. Free speech doesn't free him from consequences. It only frees him from *government* consequences, which, I think, is what Big Al Sharpton is advocating here.

And who is on my side? None other than Rosie, who I just made a few negative (and well deserved posts) about.
O’DONNELL: But, what’s the next step Elisabeth? If you say— the though police–you’re going to get--your job is going to be taken away if you think or say something?
But I only partly agree with her. Earlier in the exchange, Rosie seems to think that if a corporation takes action that's a violation of Imus' free speech. Unless the corporation is the government or run by the government, then no, I don't think it is. They can do what they want, and have no obligation to keep him around if they don't want to.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on that issue (at least for now). The point being, give this Imus character the can because it makes business sense, or because you just don't like the guy, or whatever. Just don't do it because of some political hogwash from someone who appears to advocate government censorship of free speech.

At least I can say I've never heard the man speak. What a knucklehead.

If only I had a demo tape to send into CBS to fill that now-vacant radio slot...


Anonymous said...

You're a smart guy Jeff. Once I discovered Don Imus I listened to him every morning until the station was bought by someone else and the format changed. He is not a disgusting perv like H. Stern so I don't feel it is fair when he is lumped with Stern. His style has always been the same and this comment he made was nothing so different. Why the big deal? Every day I feel we are losing more rights because of jerks like Sharpton and Jackson pushing for restrictions on what we can and cannot say. Who the heck appointed them to police what non blacks can or can't say. What happened to freedom of speech? It is becomming a thing of the past. Imus 's show was a bit tasteless but funny and silly.

Amy said...

This guy being fired is the headline, when I just found out that two women may be able to concieve their own child!?! That seems like bigger news to me!

jay said...

Here's the backstory.