Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Mustn't in the Morning

Several years have gone by since I last watched/listened to the schlock jock Don Imus. What is being left out of the current discussion is the amount of homophobic comment that disfigured the show. To be sure, Imus left most of this to his appalling brother. After each fraternal outburst Don would offer a mild reproof, but the antihomosexual jibes had gone out over the air. They were part and parcel of the crude locker-room atmosphere that suffused "Imus in the Morning."

In short he has shown a long-running pattern of bigotry against several vulnerable groups. I hope that his show gets permanently canceled.

The intriguing question is this, though. Why did the Imus program receive the obeisance of so many prominent journalists and politicias over the years? Just to cite a few acolites, there have been (with some frequency) John McCain, Tim Russert, Tom Frieman, and Cokey Roberts. In a recent interview Jonathan Alter offered the explanation that Imus' combination of crude popular-culture tripe and jock obsessions with supposedly serious analysis allowed the guests to reach a broader audience. This comment only grazes the real reason. These pundits and politicians love to get on Imus because he shamelessly helps sell their books. It is a kind of collective effort at validation. But it is an unsavory one.

The collusion of journalists and politicians with the thuggish Imus is yet one more example (after Iraq, need I say more?) of their incompetence. We need new and better journalists and politicians.

Some are saying that firing Imus is "censorship." Horsefeathers. No one has a constitutional right to a radio or TV show. I have neither. And I'm not crying "censorship."

Update After some hemming and hawing, the management of both ABC and CBS have fired the disgusting Imus. It is unfortunate, I readily concede that the charge was led by the ethically challanged Al Sharpton.

It turns out that Imus's homophobic slurs are of long duration. The journalist Philip Nobile has been recording them. He made this information available to GLAAD, the gay-media watchdog group. They essentially sat on the data. Imus had many friends in the elites of New York and Washington, who formed a protective guard. One of his major acolytes was John McCain, who was not at all deterred by the locker-room atmosphere. This is one more sign (a minor one, to be sure) of McCain's growing irrelevance.


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