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April 11, 2007

Not Liable To Help It


While feeding from the same trough, why would anyone in big media really stop to weigh either the Imus incident, or its perfunctory treatment?

Yesterday’s leading visuals in the NYT sum up how the scales of MSM “justice” operate.  For the Rutgers women’s basketball team, they get the one-time shot in the victim role, glaring over the racial injury.  (Not like that does much for the personal damage, or an incredible season irreversibly marred, but what the hell.  Maybe Don can help them get a book contract.)

For Imus, on the other hand, all he has to do is sit back, watch his mouth and feign contrition under the banner of Al Sharpton, and a few others, for a day or so, and then its back to being the rain-making, industry-swaddled disaster he is.

It’s curious, by the way, how serious the political blogosphere is taking the story while today’s Times article, with the photo above, and the “news piece” yesterday (Radio Host Is Suspended Over Racial Remarks) with a clownish photo of Imus and Sharpton going through the motions, both ran in the Business section.

… Oh yeah, and the “news piece,”  Rutgers Women Send Imus an Angry Message,  linked to above, ran in Sports.

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.  April 10, 2007. caption: Don Imus in the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio studio on Monday.)

  • margaret

    Why do all of us intelligent folks waste time with stuff like this? Imus is not part of my universe.
    Big bucks should not be paid to bigots for entertainment purposes or for any other reason. Whoever hired him should be fired.

  • Kitt

    Why do all of us intelligent folks waste time with stuff like this? Imus is not part of my universe.
    Welll, exactly. I have this internal ‘bullshit wannabe something they’re not meter’ and it went off long, long ago with Imus. I happened upon him while living in Ohio for a time; never understood the draw. As for this incident all I could think was who talks like this …. WHO talks like this!….about people they know nothing. It wouldn’t ENTER my mind to say something like this even in jest.
    I did watch a few minutes of the news conference of the Rutgers team. You know what struck me? They’re kids. They’re my nephew’s age. 18/19 with some a little older. Who talks like this about people’s kids?

  • mia

    it is all about business, everyone (but the wronged young women) is exploiting this situation.
    read an iteresting column on this. the author takes imus, jackson and sharpton to task.
    ck it out

  • Eric (Lettuce)

    It is interesting how, somehow, one comment gets picked up following a full encyclopedia of prior bad acts. Imus has made comments like these a million times before, without incedent. He’s still a favorite stop for the DCgencia.
    Same with Coulter’s “Faggot” comment. After all the vindictive things, why that? Trent Lott’s comment about Strom Thurmond.
    But despite this being overblown in attention and underpunished by Imus’ bosses — the Rutgers women have been royally boned by this. They’re now a political football — with everyone judging them on some kind of “Nappy-headed Ho” meter. In fact, how many people know thier making it to the finals was following an unprecedently hard schedule, and with the bulk of the team only Freshmen and Sophomores. They’re KIDS, and this is seriously messed up.
    Personal note: I live in New Brunswick, and my wife is a professor at Rutgers. Coach Stringer invited my wife and a few other faculty members to speak with the team early in the season. A lot of the players are first generation college and don’t have the scholarships or support schools usually give to athletes. So they have to work that much harder — and thus its important for these kids to see how other women advance in academics and other fields.
    My wife was really impressed with the team, although, like most Freshmen, they looked completely overwhelmed. I can’t imagine what they’re going through now, except for wishing it would end and soon.

  • mugatea

    It’s beyond me why a 66 year old millionaire refuses to retire after making such comments. Is it the power he needs? It’s like he’s commiting cultural rape upon us. Go buy an island and leave us alone, Imus.
    Kitt’s comment make me think of Gwen Ifill’s scribe in the NYT from this week …

  • NoContest

    fact of life margaret… they’re out there, so we have to fight them.
    I like a quote coming out of BYU, the students there are protesting Cheney’s speech. They say Cheney is a morally dubious man. That is a great two-word assessment, isn’t it? Morally dubious. That nails it, and the same can be said about so many of these republicans, Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, bush, Gonzales, Rove…. my God, the whole list.
    I wish they were domino’s – knock one over and they all fall. Unfortunately we have to take them out one at a time. Like cancer surgery. So, lets start with Imus, then Alberto, follow up with Rove.
    Whomever, whenever, however….

  • tardigrade

    Two weeks out? How about 10 years… that should do it….

  • Kitt

    Just saw that MSNBC has permanently cancelled the Don Imus show.
    From the story, if I may:
    Junior forward Essence Carson said she had done some research on Imus and his past inflammatory and derogatory statements about other people.
    “Just knowing that this has happened time and time before, I felt that it might be time to make a stand,” she said Wednesday on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
    “He doesn’t know who we are as people,” Carson said. “That’s why we are just so appalled with his insensitive remarks, not only about African-American women, but about women as a whole.

    Carson is the team’s captain.

  • Cactus

    Imus is only part of a bigger problem. Actually, two bigger problems. I mean aside from the distraction from the mounting disaster that is the occupation of Iraq and in general, the W’s war on terror. And I don’t know why now…..maybe the collective consciousness has just had enough! The first thing to consider, though, is that these (very) young women have worked HARD to get there they are. What Imus did was take that away from them for the sake of a cheap joke on an idiotic show.
    The bigger problems are endemic racism and the pervasive hatred of women among the right-wingers. The fact that Imus and his on-air cohort ‘joked’ so easily about their racism is an indication that they are comfortable that we will all feel the same way. For those of us who don’t, it’s a sneak peak behind the scenes of the ugly prevalence of racism in our country. Some of us look at Obama’s rise in the polls and have some hope. Until we remember how pervasive racism is just under the surface. Even among people we know.
    That they can refer to 18-year-old students, who have achieved academic and athletic honors, as “hos” indicates the depth of hatred for women in this society. Especially women who have made some achievements. Yes, yes, Imus loves his wife, yadda, yadda. But the hatred he and his ilk (Rush/Beck, et al.) have for women in general, damages ALL women, every day. And especially women in power, any form of power.

  • jtfromBC

    I concur this particular travesty is part of a bigger problem. Bullying is the behavior I label which entails emotions of fear, hatred, greed and ignorance, it also identifies easily to nationalism, racism, sexism, homophobia etc. Corporations are not uncomfortable with many of these traits either as long as they are covert and subtle.
    So its bullying that comes to mind when I think of little men like Imus whom Ive never heard off until this week. But then how else would I have heard of these girls and their rare accomplishment. (I recall Paul Robson was the first black football player at Rutgers, and his unwelcomed and challenging initiation, so they have come a long way, except I don’t know if they replaced his photographs which I believe were removed from their walls after he was blacklisted.)
    Five random selections.
    Democracy in U.S.: Ridicule and bullying … – 29k
    Sam Hamod: W. Bush: the Little Snot, the Little Bully
    The Bullying of the Press
    Most Outrageous Right Wing Comments of 2006 – 220k
    Radio’s big bully
    A complete guide to Salon’s reporting on Clear Channel, the most powerful — and some would say pernicious — force in the music industry

  • mugatea

    The video of the Imus comment is more telling than just reading the quote. He, and his sidekick, laugh at his choice of words in a way that says much more than just the words alone. It’s no wonder why he hides under that cowboy hat, indoors.
    C BS.

  • thoughttheater

    Frankly, we are fast becoming the epitome of a Jerry Springer society. It seems to have become more important to have an audience and notoriety when confronting conflict than it is to attain resolve and mutual respect. That model seems to serve the needs of the exploited and those who seek to exploit; reinforcing all that relegates objectivity to the outhouse while making the frailty and imperfection of the human condition a spectacle that harkens back to the Coliseum.
    This situation isn’t and shouldn’t be about whether liberals or conservatives, this race or that race, hip hop or honky-tonk, one group or another, are more offensive and therefore more responsible for all that is wrong with America. I am not capable of judging the whole of Don Imus nor am I capable of crafting a recipe to fix all of America…and neither are the countless pundits and partisans who have sought to frame it so.
    I’m not a religious person…but I often find kinship with the imagery surrounding the portrayal of one called Jesus and his teachings of understanding and forgiveness. For all the banter I hear about the Bible and Christian values, it certainly seems to me that we are fast abandoning what many view as the sacred “tablets” in favor of the sacrosanct tabloids. If I’m right, all I can say is heaven help us.
    Read more about the dynamics that lead a situation to become larger than the sum of its parts…here:

  • readytoblowagasket

    Let me see if I’ve got this right:
    Don Imus is a scumbag for calling people whores.
    But digby can call everybody a whore and it’s totally cool.
    From digby’s “industry-swaddled” piece linked by The BAG above:
    “And all of these writers will once again make pilgrimages to his show and pledge fealty to him in order to sell books. Because, unlike those great basketball players he maligned so casually — they really are whores.”
    “Democratic politicians like Joe Lieberman who have the utter gall to lecture people about civility while they patronize this swill are whores too . . .”
    So I guess it’s not wrong to use the word “whore” as long as you call the right people whores.
    I’m sick of the left’s whoring its vocabulary from youth culture to be hip instead of thoughtful. Until “progressives” think about their own gendered word choices, we are not progressing anywhere.
    And don’t even TRY to tell me there is no racial subtext when digby (or anyone else) uses “whore” pejoratively. Because, of course, progressives mean “white” when they use the word “whore.” Sorry, but that doesn’t make it PC.

  • mugatea

    whore (hôr, hōr) n.
    1. A prostitute.
    2. A person considered sexually promiscuous.
    3. A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.

    ho 1 (hō)
    interj. Used to express surprise or joy, to attract attention to something sighted, or to urge onward: Land ho! Westward ho!
    ho 2 (hō) n. pl. hos
    Slang. A prostitute.

  • Cactus

    rtbag: The difference is in the choice of ‘victim.’ If one were to say McCain is whoring after the W in order to gain favor, I see that as descriptive of a candidate who has put himself up for our critical judgement as to whether he is a viable person to fill that office. In short, he is voluntarily in the public eye for some future potential gain. But to VERY publicly call college students playing a game, whose ONLY availability to the public is for the purpose of providing a good game more or less anonymously, is quite another. Were it not for Imus’ comment, these young women would go back to their books and exams in total anonymity, save for the few hours of their game being broadcast. It’s not so much the use of the word ‘ho’ but the application of it.
    As for the usage of the word ‘whore’ in referring to political pandering, it’s already out there and we can’t stop it. Banning words is just as ridiculous as banning books. However, we can protest the current use of the word when applying it to females, of any ilk in any profession.
    I think part of what makes the difference now, as opposed to two months or two years ago, is Obama. He tends to appeal, at least so far, to our better natures. He has put himself out there and to all appearances, he is a reasonable, rational person. A lot of people have seen some hope in his candidacy and he has evinced that by the amount of money he has collected. I suspect that has made other people, who may have been on the fringe, or on the fence, take notice and pay attention. So isn’t the difference of ‘why Imus, why now’ maybe an indication that some of us as least are becoming more responsible and less like the 5-year-olds we can all be at times? Are we all, finally, getting fed up by the constant tantrums of the kindergartners in our midst and in our leadership (if one can call them leaders)? I guess the test will be when the comedian, Rush, gets fired for his next hateful remark, which should be any day now if he’s on schedule.
    Sorry to be so optimistic, but I’ve been doing some research on Richard Hofstadter. I had forgotten how good he was.
    And another thing (to quote Nikki Giovanni), was this all set off by Jerry Springer? I mean that in the sense that his program is all about bad behavior. In the nature of TV (and politics), the next person has to one-up Springer in order to get a name for him/herself. When it gets close to that line which no one dares cross, it becomes a game of chicken. One chicken crosses the road followed by a whole flock of idiot chickens who see how they, too, can make a lot of money (for Imus I heard $10million) by being even more outrageous. Maybe shooting down the first chicken will keep the rest in line. Well, one hopes.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Cactus, like I said, it’s okay when you call the right people whores. Because they are the *REAL* whores.
    You get how ridiculous THAT distinction is, right? I already *get* the Don Imus part.

  • ummabdulla

    I had no idea Don Imus was so popular. According to an Associated Press story, “The cantankerous Imus, once named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America by Time magazine and a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame, was one of radio’s original shock jocks”. I’ve never heard him, except for seeing him once on Larry King years ago. I wasn’t impressed at all, but he did spend a lot of time talking about some ranch he had where he brought children with some kind of physical or emotional problems – I don’t remember the details – so I sort of gave him the benefit of the doubt.
    It’s baffling that this guy – with the way he talks, not to mention what he says – was a radio star. And it’s amazing that – with the way he looks – MSNBC actually televised him doing his radio show. I guess they wouldn’t want to spend their time broadcasting any actual news.
    Maybe there’s a place for thoughtful discussion about the issues surrounding this incident, but for me, the big question is how so many people could be fans, to the point where a jerk like this could be called one of the most influential people.
    Usually, celebrities make comments like this and then think that they can just say “Sorry, I’m not really a racist”, and everyone’s supposed to just accept it.
    Good riddance. And I hope he’s not “rehabilitated” and back before we know it.
    As for Sharpton’s studio, his poster dominates the place, doesn’t it? He wants to make sure no guest – or employee, I guess – can forget who he is, or that he’s in charge.

  • mugatea

    Sorry for bolding y’all’s comments.
    My bad.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    Demagogy (Demagoguery) (from Greek demos, “people”, and agogos, “leading” : “refers to a political strategy for obtaining and gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalistic or populist themes…
    …commonly used as a political pejorative; ie., political opponents are described as “demagogues”, while politicians approved of are “men of the people” or “progressives“.
    At the risk (well, it is almost a certainty :) of pissing off the lot of you, i shall speak of the emergence of Blog Demagoguery: the Blogagogue
    …for example, Mr. Kos @ dKos, et al; Blogagogues who appear to post articles which, for all intents and purposes ~ appear to be nothing more than populist targets for zillions of Lemming-like, “Me, Too!” responses in which the blogger basks.
    For example, Ms. Ehrenreich recently posted an article on HuffPo in which she derided a handy, fat target: the BigBox culture of Circuit City ~ the gist of which was a hackneyed musing of “Workers GOOD : Management BAD”. She even managed to compare herself (“I once lost a contract with a publisher”) with the plight of a displaced service worker (!) Far worse than the fact that there was no news within her screed, she was merely musing without being amusing (see, Wolcott or another superb writer, Mark Morford).
    Sometimes, even my beloved BAGman posts nothing more than some innocuous photo of Mr. Bush, or some other character we all love to hate ~ and frankly, there is no there, there ~ other than a target upon which we can all hurl our hatred, our frustrations, and feelings of helplessness.
    is this not what IMUS, et al are to the frustrated White middle/working class Male Drone?
    …as he, in that moment of honesty, the traffic jam of reflection ~ finds himself not the super-hero, mythic male (oh, yes ~ we have our own Barbie Doll to live up to, darlings) but a JAFO = Just Another Fucking Observer, stuck in futile commute in his zipless fuck Ford F-150, ignorant of the World (do you think that he doesn’t know that he is ignorant?!!) overwhelmed by a consumer culture in which competition and aggression are EXPECTED?
    It must be terribly tempting, for Blogagogues, to have that feeling of celebrity = ‘more responses than you can respond to, personally’ because this public narcissism has become so pervasive.
    => people who live in glass networks, shouldn’t throw stones.

  • readytoblowagasket

    See a surprisingly thoughtful article in TIME magazine (of all places) by James Poniewozik about the appropriation of slang (and why it fails in the wrong mouths) and the mashup of cultural idioms, using Imus’s slur as a jumping off point. This quote by Sarah Silverman echoes the point I’m trying to make about the word “whore”:
    The license to borrow terms other people have taken back can worry even edgy comics. A few months ago, I interviewed [Sarah] Silverman, who argued that her material was not racist but about racism (and I agree). But she added something that surprised me, coming from her: “I’m not saying ‘I can say nigger because I’m liberal.’ There is a certain aspect of that that I’m starting to get grossed out by. ‘Oh, we’re not racist. We can say it.’ ”,8599,1609490,00.html

  • Ksue

    I think there’s something more here. Imus is a raunchy-mouthed Republican who insults every segment of society sooner or later — including his own wife. Rush Limbaugh only insults non-Republicans, gays, and strong empowed women. I personally find Limbaugh and his ilk, like Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter, far more disgusting than Imus. Yet they don’t get fired from their jobs.
    Imus, disgusting as he can be, has long called the Bush Administration “war criminals who should be tried.” He has been outspokenly enraged about the VA’s treatment of our injured war vets. He was instrumental in helping fund (privately) The Intrepid Center in San Antonio, which couldn’t get enough government money to get it off the ground. His wife has worked tirelessly to get legislation passed that would aid and assist the burgeoning population of parents with autistic kids. When this legislation was effectively killed by Joe Barton (R-TX), Imus let loose with days’ worth of insults against the guy. Imus’s wife has also developed a line of non-toxic household cleaners, the entire profits from which go to charity — specifically their ranch for kids with cancer, blood disorders, siblings of SIDS babies, etc.
    Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? Imus and his wife have pissed off the Administration, the Pentagon, Big Pharma and Big Toxic Chemicals.
    Methinks THAT is truly why he was canned for saying three words that are no different from all the other insulting words he’s said on the air for — how many years now?
    He was becoming a loud-mouthed threat to BushCo and the Republican Machine.

  • Cactus

    I’m beginning to think Ksue is right. On the one hand the right is declaiming Imus as a liberal, but suddenly they want the head of a liberal to counter-act his firing. Looks like the herd started stampeding in the wrong direction and had to be reined in. I still don’t think the reaction and outrage was whipped up by the right, but they were certainly quick to take advantage of it to dump Imus. And I think it was for the EXACT reason that Ksue cited, a republican who had turned against the establishment and big donors. Which is also why McCain has become such a toady. We all remember what Somner Redstone (CBS) said before the last election……..backing the republicans is good for business.

  • chimproller

    1. Politicians and other public figures can certainly be referred to as ‘whores’ easily. 19-year old college athletes should not.
    2. Imus’ whoring of those poor sick kids for his scam of a charity is disgusting.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Sorry, chimproller, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. The Imus charity is not a scam (no matter what the uninformed dolts say on daily kos), and the Imuses raise more money for children’s causes than people know. I happen to know because a friend of mine takes her kid to get treatment at one of the Imus centers in Hackensack, NJ. She pays nothing. Go ahead and have an opinion, but please get your facts right in the future.

  • chimproller

    The Wall Street Journal reported in a front-page story the Imus ranch spent $2.6 million last year while hosting only about 100 children. The newspaper said experts consider that an unusually high dollar-tochild ratio for a charity.
    That ranch is a scam – getting kids to scoop cow shit for you while you enjoy a tax-free ranch.

  • readytoblowagasket

    chimp, did you steal that line verbatim from Howard Stern? ‘Cause that would be ironic.
    Yes, it’s an unusually high dollar ratio per kid. And that’s all anyone has found to fault the Imus ranch for. Attorney generals in two states–including Eliot Spitzer in New York–have had an opportunity to look. And they found nothing. If Spitzer found nothing after four months of looking, there is nothing to find.
    So do you want Imus to take the pet horses away from the terminally ill kids? Save a little money that way?

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