Why Imus Matters
Losing Don Imus would be a disaster for American broadcasting. Below is part of an interview with Senator Chuck Schumer that I first heard on my daily taping of the Imus in the Morning Show. It impressed me so much that I asked my wife to come down and hear it, too. (Incidentally, I copied this section of transcript from the Progressive Review.)
Before I reprint it, I should say in these days of media consolidation you rarely get a chance to hear anyone stand up to the people in power. I have heard Don Imus call Dick Cheney a war criminal at least 100 times, and that is something you don't hear from many media types - especially not Republicans. Yes, the shock stuff is harmful, and I'm not minimizing it. But the value of Don Imus is unique - there is no one else who could call Dick Cheney a war criminal and have Cheney still show up to do his show. That's power we need on our side in the big picture.
Here's part of the Schumer interview and believe me the transcript can't possibly show the genuine anger with which Imus dressed down this politician. We can't afford to lose a voice like this:
Imus: We've known for years, certainly since 1981, that the care and the way that these veterans have been treated to a large degree, not because it's the people's fault - most of them, the doctors and nurses
particularly at the Veterans Administration - but for a variety of
reasons, in many cases, their treatment and care has been woefully
inadequate. The bureaucratic red tape has been a nightmare for a lot of
these people, and that's been going on for years, and my question is why haven't any of you ever done anything about it?
Schumer: Well, we've tried. I've been fighting since I got to the Senate
for full funding for the veterans, and we didn't do any oversight.
That's the real problem here . . . I'll tell you one other thing that
will happen. We'll get full funding for the VA this year, for the first
time. We did actually, to show you a little bit that this isn't just
catching up to the crisis, we did a budget in early January . . .
Imus: Let me interrupt you for a second, but this is nonsense, Senator
Schumer. I want to be respectful, but you can't possibly be serious and
suggest - I mean I'm not a fool. You can't suggest to me that because
the Democrats are now in power that something is going to be done about Walter Reed and about the mess in the Veterans Administration and all of this, and that if the Democrats hadn't taken control of Congress that nothing would have been done. That's preposterous; of course it would
Schumer: Well, something would have been done if the story would have
gotten out . . .
Imus: Here's another question. Have you ever been over to Walter Reed?
Schumer: Ahh, not in a while, no.
Imus: How long has it been since you've been over there?
Schumer: Oh, before Iraq.
Imus: So, before Iraq since you've been over to see the soldiers. So, we
have elected you - first in the Congress and now in the Senate - and
you've got a bill now to do something we'll get to in a minute; but you
haven't even been to Walter Reed Hospital.
Schumer: No, no, no. But I have visited regularly the veterans'
hospitals throughout my state. That's where I have focused on . . .
I say Imus should stay. His apology and pledge to do better couldn't be enough to erase the hurtful nature of his words, but at his best, Don Imus is a valuable force for everybody.