Wednesday, April 11, 2007


When last we wrote about Don Imus' troubles, his show had simply been suspended for two weeks. Now Imus faces bigger woes; according to The New York Times, sponsors are dropping like flies from the Imus show. Among them:
Miralus Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company that makes a headache medication called HeadOn, said yesterday that they had asked MSNBC to remove their advertising from the television simulcast of Mr. Imus’s radio program and run their commercials elsewhere.
Whoa. When the maker of the world's most obnoxious commercials ditches your show, you know you're toast.

But what's it all mean, Stimpy? Art Morris has an interesting take on the Imus flap at his Missouri Radio forums:
I think Imus stumbled onto a new trend in this country, "The Anti-Rap Backlash."

I read a story a few days ago that said that sales of rap music had dropped something like 25% in the past year or so. Record company execs weren't quite sure what was going on. I think I understand now. Voices were already being heard, especially in the black community, condeming the 'rap lifestyle.' Apparently, the public, finally, is turning against the hate speech that so characterizes much of rap music, and the culture around it.

At the very least, Imus is guilty of not keeping up. He was trying to be hip and cool, and missed the fact that the some people are turning against that kind of speech. Ooops, stuck in the 90's.

If this situation puts another nail in the coffin of the 'rap lifestyle,' that's OK with me. Except for one small thing ... freedom of speech.


Anonymous said...

Imus should have known better, no argument about that. But too many of the circling vultures are disgusting hypocrites.

The hate-mongers at Fox are among the worst. And those two so-called clergymen Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have said things about whites and especially Jews that are as hurtful as Imus's stupid joke.

The Jacksons and Sharptons of the world should have been complaining long ago about the sexist and racist lyrics and behavior of the hip-hop crowd.

There's plenty of shame to go around. But with advertisers starting to pull out, it is looking like Imus may be the only one who pays the price.

Mark said...

Art's take may very well be on the money. Imus was spouting a pop-culture driven phrase that has no intrinsic value as applied to Afro-Americans.

He’s an old codger who used a coined phrase no different than the 90s “word” or “Hey, Girlfriend!” How does this make him racist?

And another thing: I’m tired of people using “racism” incorrectly. If Imus or anyone else believes that his or her race is better than another race, then that’s racism. Merely not liking another race is not racism, it’s prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Published in the NYT yesterday-Gwen Ifill is senior correspondent with The Newshour with Jim McLauer:


LET’S say a word about the girls. The young women with the musical names. Kia and Epiphanny and Matee and Essence. Katie and Dee Dee and Rashidat and Myia and Brittany and Heather.

The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University had an improbable season, dropping four of their first seven games, yet ending up in the N.C.A.A. women’s basketball championship game. None of them were seniors. Five were freshmen.

In the end, they were stopped only by Tennessee’s Lady Vols, who clinched their seventh national championship by ending Rutgers’ Cinderella run last week, 59-46. That’s the kind of story we love, right? A bunch of teenagers from Newark, Cincinnati, Brooklyn and, yes, Ogden, Utah, defying expectations. It’s what explodes so many March Madness office pools.

But not, apparently, for the girls. For all their grit, hard work and courage, the Rutgers girls got branded “nappy-headed ho’s” — a shockingly concise sexual and racial insult, tossed out in a volley of male camaraderie by a group of amused, middle-aged white men. The “joke” — as delivered and later recanted — by the radio and television personality Don Imus failed one big test: it was not funny.

The serial apologies of Mr. Imus, who was suspended yesterday by both NBC News and CBS Radio for his remarks, have failed another test. The sincerity seems forced and suspect because he’s done some version of this several times before.

I know, because he apparently did it to me.

I was covering the White House for this newspaper in 1993, when Mr. Imus’s producer began calling to invite me on his radio program. I didn’t return his calls. I had my hands plenty full covering Bill Clinton.

Soon enough, the phone calls stopped. Then quizzical colleagues began asking me why Don Imus seemed to have a problem with me. I had no idea what they were talking about because I never listened to the program.

It was not until five years later, when Mr. Imus and I were both working under the NBC News umbrella — his show was being simulcast on MSNBC; I was a Capitol Hill correspondent for the network — that I discovered why people were asking those questions. It took Lars-Erik Nelson, a columnist for The New York Daily News, to finally explain what no one else had wanted to repeat.

“Isn’t The Times wonderful,” Mr. Nelson quoted Mr. Imus as saying on the radio. “It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House.”

I was taken aback but not outraged. I’d certainly been called worse and indeed jumped at the chance to use the old insult to explain to my NBC bosses why I did not want to appear on the Imus show.

I haven’t talked about this much. I’m a big girl. I have a platform. I have a voice. I’ve been working in journalism long enough that there is little danger that a radio D.J.’s juvenile slap will define or scar me. Yesterday, he began telling people he never actually called me a cleaning lady. Whatever. This is not about me.

It is about the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. That game had to be the biggest moment of their lives, and the outcome the biggest disappointment. They are not old enough, or established enough, to have built up the sort of carapace many women I know — black women in particular — develop to guard themselves against casual insult.

Why do my journalistic colleagues appear on Mr. Imus’s program? That’s for them to defend, and others to argue about. I certainly don’t know any black journalists who will. To his credit, Mr. Imus told the Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday he realizes that, this time, he went way too far.

Yes, he did. Every time a young black girl shyly approaches me for an autograph or writes or calls or stops me on the street to ask how she can become a journalist, I feel an enormous responsibility. It’s more than simply being a role model. I know I have to be a voice for them as well.

So here’s what this voice has to say for people who cannot grasp the notion of picking on people their own size: This country will only flourish once we consistently learn to applaud and encourage the young people who have to work harder just to achieve balance on the unequal playing field.

Let’s see if we can manage to build them up and reward them, rather than opting for the cheapest, easiest, most despicable shots.

Anonymous said...

From above

"They are not old enough, or established enough, to have built up the sort of carapace many women I know — black women in particular — develop to guard themselves against casual insult."

We have heard lots of talk and outrage about racism here but what about the sexism??? It's ok to call women hos as long as we don't make reference to their skin color or the texture of their hair?

Anonymous said...

Art Morris has an interesting take on this. But I'm stumped by the final line. What does this have to do with freedom of speech? I've yet to read anything anywhere in which the government is taking any action whatsoever against Imus. We are free to speak. But that doesn't mean anyone has to listen to it or pay for it.

Anonymous said...

For the record:

It doesn't violate the Constitution if the market silences objectional speech; only if the Government does.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:13. The end result is the same. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Voicing one's opinion by not sponsoring or subsidizing a view one opposes is also freedom of speech.
Imus can say whatever he wants, but if enough sponsors disagree with him and voice their dissent by withdrawing their financial support, his platform will be removed and he would then be speaking to a much smaller audience. BUT, he can continue to say what he wants.

Mark said...

I concur, anonymous @ 3:25. If we mandate, of our own accord, what we are allowed to say (which is what Sharpton and others are doing by demanding that Imus be fired) then we face persecution and a nice scarlet letter upon our chest--not only for what comes out of our mouths, but what comes from our hearts. No government intervention needed.

Why can’t some of you see the ramifications of this? I am alarmed at those who cannot. Why are you and your kind so dead-set on a society where you can only say that which everyone agrees upon? For the love of God, please open your eyes!

And to anonymous @2:53: How is Imus calling them “hos” sexist? If you call a man a pig, whether or not he is one, is that sexist?

Sexism is when you believe one sex is inferior to another. Calling them “hos” was of poor taste, but not necessarily sexist. I’m sorry that you have spent your day feeling “outrage” because of this. I suggest involving yourself in activities that better occupy your time.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the end result is the same -- the speech is silenced, at least on CBS. But, as anon 4:09 pointed out, Imus can go spew, er speak, somewhere else, where someone is willing to listen. I haven't called for his firing, as some have, and I'm not in a dither about what he said. That's because I don't listen to him, and because I know that, if enough people decide to stop listening, the market will shut him down. We do have the right as consumers not to subdize or listen to such speech. We are no more enlightened or liberated or progressive or whatever for paying for hate screed.

We are, though, more progressive for our First Amendment, which prohibits the Government from banning speech and picking and choosing between speakers. For that reason, I think many college hate speech rules are quite suspect.

Limbaugh has a right to speak, but it will be a mighty cold day in hell before I pay for that speech, and I will not be sorry when others see the sense of things and stop paying for it, too.

Anonymous said...

I am now deeply saddened by the decision of NBC News to pull the TV simulcast of the radio program. Can CBS be far behind with the radio gig?
Maybe there's a future for Imus, maybe not.
But, for those of us who thought "Billy Sol Hargis from the Church of the Gooey Death and discount house of worship" was inspired radio comedy are mourning tonight, for more than one reason.

Anonymous said...


Black woman falsely cries "Rape!" and the lives of several young white college males are sidetracked for a year. But no vengeful national outcry.

Old white radio jock makes lame joke employing common street language at the expense of several young black college females. Massive vengeful national outcry.


Anonymous said...

Ron! where is the picture of Phil Spectre?
The fro man post the fro!

Desdinova said...

Art said, "But, for those of us who thought "Billy Sol Hargis from the Church of the Gooey Death and discount house of worship" was inspired radio comedy are mourning tonight, for more than one reason."

I think that is a point that needs to be brought up. I think Imus should go because his show is not up to snuff (no pun intended) with what it used to be. It has become Imus mumbling to McCord, an okay interview with a news person and the Imus and Bernard spewing out insulting remarks about people.

Personally, the person who should pay is Bernard McGuirk. I can't stand the sound of his voice and his assinine, vulgar and stupid comments are the worst part of the show. This guy has crossed the line more times and his comment in this incident was the worst.

I find it interesting that GM pulled. I'm going to let out a little trade secret. Radio station get make-good ads from the news networks (CBS, ABC etc). With that is a list of shows (all talk radio shows) that the advertisers don't want their ads to run on. GM is about the only company that allows its ads to run on the talk radio shows. When GM pulls, what does that mean? As some one said to me recently about the Battlefield Mall food court "Something is wrong when McDonalds can't make it there."

MY hope this is the nail in the coffin of all talk radio.

Anonymous said...

Lame joke my butt. The old drunk crossed the line. Women have been kicked around on his show for years and it's time he put a sock in it.

Mark said...

To mrsthurstonhowell: The easiest way for you to put a sock in Don Imus's mouth is to reach your hand toward the knob on your radio, or position your thumb over the correct button on your remote control, and change the channel.

Just because you find it offensive doesn't mean he has not the right to broadcast. There are plenty of people whom I cannot stand, yet I recognize their right to speak.

I beg you to exercise foresight in this matter. When you post such rhetoric, you sound like a proponent of fascism.

Anonymous said...

I don't think so. Mark, you're putting words in my mouth and Imus should put a sock in his own juvenile, frat boy mouth. Imus and his crew can and does have the right to swing from the chandelier and spew all sorts of things, and yeah I quit listening to him years ago. I complain about him just like I periodically go on about Rush, Coulter, to name a few.

Fascist rhetoric indeed.

Anonymous said...

As if the hypocritical antics of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others weren't enough, now Hillary Clinton is going to try to capitalize on this situation by "visiting" with the Rutgers women's basketball team. All these self-serving jerks are shameless!

Anonymous said...

Well no one will need to "just turn him off" anymore.

He's been fired.

Anonymous said...

Take a pill, Mark. The world will keep turning.

Mark said...

Anon @ 4:27: I'm fully aware that the world will keep turning. Thanks for the reassuring quip, though.

Anonymous said...

Our country is like a flock of ravens, fascinated only by the latest bright, shiny object.

Don Imus makes a few admittedly stupid comments, and gets pilloried off the airwaves and run out of not one, but two jobs. Meanwhile, we have a President who has botched virtually everything he's touched--Katrina, health care, the environment, personal privacy rights, the sanctity of the rule of law, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, a diversionary war in Iraq that has killed and maimed thousands on both sides, and so on--yet he keeps right on drawing a paycheck and immersing himself, and our country, into one catastrophe after another.

What's up with that, My Ravens? When will we wake up and fire George W. Bush?

Anonymous said...

Imus deserved to get fired for what he said.

However, you can quit crying for him because unless he's about ready to retire anyway he will probably follow his fellow foul-mouthed shock jock Howard Stern's path and turn to satellite.