Monday, April 09, 2007

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.


At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've listened to Imus daily ever since he entered the PDX market. His show is like Howard Stern on brain cells. What Imus is being raked over the coals for now is far from the most offensive thing I've ever heard on his show - even from a racial standpoint. He was trying to make a JOKE. Yes it was offensive, but isn't that an element of much of today's humor? Heck, go back five or six decades and consider Henny Youngman's jokes in context of the times. Sexist through and through.

By the way Bill, who are you to defend Don Imus? Have you ever even listened to him? Of course you haven't ;)

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Jmartens said...

So is criticizing an elected official the only test you give when deciding if a jerk of a talk show host should fired or not?

What if Bill O'Riley had said what Imus did? Bet a lot of folks would have a different opinion.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

You mean there's a double standard with people in trouble depending on whom you like or dislike? Wow, nice catch.
I thought Bill O'Reilly's scandal was a little different. First he said he was the victim, then when it was clear the co-worker had tapes of his kinky calls, he ran to settle.
The big question left on that one was his dildo's nickname. He bought his way out of that trouble before those details got out.
I wonder if the people who let him silde on that - the scandal, not the dildo - would have reacted similarly if it had been Al Franken harassing a co-worker. Probably not.

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Jack Bog said...

What about Marv Albert? When he calls someone a ho, it's intended as a compliment.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"Heck, go back five or six decades and consider Henny Youngman's jokes in context of the times. Sexist through and through."

Doesn't that make the case as to why it's unacceptable now--in the context of THESE times?

Maybe if you call Al Sharpton a watermelon slurping scheisster, that's one thing. He's a public figure, and parody standards apply. But what the hell did the Rutgers women's basketball team ever do to anyone? They're innocent people now swept up in a firestorm; they've essentially been violated twice.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

I completely agree that something awful has happened here. I don't think it was an aberation either. There's something offensive on just about every Imus show. I would also add that he sounded like a person who was trying to save his job - he has to get it. There were no revelations to Imus here. He can also thank his wife - she was the force for a lot of the good things he's done with his life lately.
Imus thrives on being offensive. He often says his goal with his guests is to get them to say something they have to apologize about for the next few days.
I just think the way he calls out politicians is a valuable thing that I would hate to lose. The solution to this is have more people in the media who do that. Instead the radio I hear sounds like a propaganda wing for the powers that be.
You won't hear Brian Williams criticize General Electric much, because General Electric owns NBC. Imus thinks he's too big to be pushed around and that allows him to be a rare voice in the media landscape.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, I disagree that escalation resolves things, read: (I disagree) that massmind media should add more voices to 'call out' powermad politicos from their stagnated career bunkers of putrefied perversity.

My idea of a solution is to remove the rotted politics-by-celebrity. Then those I-man voices are unneeded, since there are no perverted politicos to 'call out.'

Or, as he said himself, "I'm not going to play forever," Imus vowed, "[A]t some point, I stop playing."

Same with Leno. Same with Letterman. Linkletter, same as it ever was.

Massmind media voices diminish, not nourish. Individual blog voices thrive, flourish, and multiply the understanding of all.

Massmind segregates demographics (think: ethnicities) to maximize its ratings. Internet integrates demographics to maximize its ratings.

One mind is dead (watching TV). Long live one mind (blogging WWW).

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the media was truly consolidated, would a debate like this be unfolding on this website or all over the net for that matter?

With the National Association of Broadcasters here. The media landscape is as diverse as it has ever been.

Maybe the real question is did Imus inappropriately use his First Amendment right to slander others over public airwaves? And how do the same rules apply to the blogosphere?

I am loving the 21st Century!

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Published on Tuesday, April 10, 2007, The New York Times, Trash Talk Radio, by Gwen Ifill:

(at Common Dreams.ORG with Comments)
The serial apologies of Mr. Imus ... have failed another test. The sincerity seems forced and suspect ....

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.

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 ... rather than opting for the cheapest, easiest, most despicable shots.

The psyche shock-value of effects-violence, cosmeticized-sexuality, verbalized-hatemongering, etc. So, uh, what's the N.A.B. got civil and progressive and good to say for itself it promotingly has aired?

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh-oh. The storied event has got legs, with boots made for walking all over politicstalkers who trashed AM radio.

Advertisers Pull Out of Imus Show,
By Paul Farhi and Frank Ahrens, Washington Post Staff Writers, April 11, 2007; Page A01

"Three advertisers -- office supply chain Staples Inc., Bigelow Tea and Procter & Gamble -- said late yesterday that they would stop placing ads on the show out of dismay over Imus ..."

... the same folks who bring you Rash Lamebrain and LIARS Larson, can take them away and have them back, now.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMUS IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG, by Sheldon Drobny, April 11:

"... these right-wingers have effectively creating more hatred, racism, and divisiveness than Imus could ever have done .... My suggestion to ... anti-defamation groups is that they extend their outrage to the other talk radio hosts [ Lamebrain, LIARS, Sewage, O'Rudely, more ] who are doing far more damage than Imus. This would be a message to the advertisers !!! that would really have an impact on talk radio and the DISSEMINATION of HATRED that has so DIVIDED this country over the last 25 years. "

NOW it ends. Advertising money is pulling away from endorsing HATEmonger talk. So LIARS Larson spins around to pull back from his lifelong HATEmonger big-mouth, but then his peeps and parrots don't get their adrenal fix and stop going there to listen, ratings go flatline, and advertising money pulls away.

NOW it ends. Ask Bill Gander at Standard TV & Appliance -- BOYCOTT! -- ask Bob Pamplin at Community Newspapers and Portland Tribune -- BOYCOTT! 'em.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said... seem to be under the impression that Imus is a 'right-winger'. You must have missed that endorsement of John Kerry.....

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem to be under the misimpression you have thought.

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if Imus is not a 'right-winger', and you don't think him to be, what does this whole mess have to do with "Lamebrain, LIARS, Sewage, O'Rudely"?

Perhaps you've never heard the vile, vitriolic crap spewed over Air America on a Daily basis by such luminaries as Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy? I'm sure leaving their names off you childish nickname list was merely oversight.

(PS - the more you write here, the more I am beginning to understand why you are no longer in the CIA) ;)

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pa. DJ Fired for Repeating Imus Comments, by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 12, 2007

"ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- A radio station fired its longtime morning DJ Wednesday after he encouraged listeners to repeat talk-show host Don Imus' racially charged comments in an on-air contest.

Gary Smith told WSBG-FM listeners to call and say ...

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just Imus

On April 11, NBC News announced that it was dropping MSNBC's simulcast of Imus in the Morning in the wake of the controversy that erupted over host Don Imus' reference to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." The following day, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves announced that CBS -- which owns both the radio station that broadcast Imus' program and Westwood One, which syndicated the program -- has fired Imus and would cease broadcasting his radio [programming] show. But as Media Matters for America has extensively documented, bigotry and hate speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity continue to permeate the airwaves through personalities such as LIARS Larson, Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, and John Gibson.

Consider, Bill, there is a direct causal linking chain from Imus to Lamebrain to Newt to so-called '1994 Republican Revolution' to Clinton destruction to Florida 2ooo vote defraud to false executive to Nine Eleven Op to Iraq invasion casualties and grieving families and friends right here in River City. All from letting the hatemongers shout to their parrots for years, and never standing up opposing the indecent antisocial incivility.

Locally, LIARS can single-handedly be blamed for Measure 5 and the double majority and Measure 37 and the whole flavor of incivility that rends the social net and fabric.

Globally, who most retards the wider recognition of the crisis of global climate distress? Hatemonger shout-lie politic stalk radio, that's who!

Without that subversive propaganda insubordination programming the minds of radio lonelyheads, there would be no talking points and no trolls typing them on blogs.

Why do you think they call it 'programming.' Think about it. Gawddammit think about it.


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