Ifill on Imus

Update [2007-4-10 2:30:36 by Big Tent Democrat]: See also Eugene Robinson.

Gwen Ifill speaks:

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.

[Imus'apologies] seem[] forced and suspect because he’s done some version of this several times before. I know, because he apparently did it to me.

. . . It was not until five years later, when . . . I was a Capitol Hill correspondent for the network — that I discovered why people were asking [why she did not appear on Imus' show.] 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.”


. . . This is not about me.

It is about the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. . . . 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.

. . . 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.
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    Wow (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:29:40 AM EST
    "Cleaning lady?" My god.

    If that doesn't finish him I don't know what will.

    It didn't finish him before (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:31:48 AM EST
    why would it now?

    First I heard of it (none / 0) (#5)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:41:34 AM EST
    The pattern is starting to look pretty unmistakable on his part.

    I'm sure (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 07:22:10 AM EST
    I've heard that story before, too.

    It doesn't seem to have made (none / 0) (#27)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:26:55 PM EST
    a big stink the way the latest outrage has. Google the relevant terms and right now you only get 29 hits, and most of those are current.

    And whoa - it just leaped to 63 hits while I was writing this.


    Nice tip of the hat to Ms. HIll and excellent (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:32:36 AM EST
    op-ed by her.

    BTW:  Are there any extant photos of Mr. Imus that wouldn't scare small children?

    Heh (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:39:11 AM EST
    Maybe, but we are not likely to post them here.

    You may not have noticed, but we are not big fans the I-Man here.


    I've only heard him once (that was enough) (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:47:45 AM EST
    on AM radio and didn't actually realize until this most recent flap that he is on the evil MSM.

    The one on this post is (none / 0) (#6)
    by Alien Abductee on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:46:06 AM EST
    particularly alarming. The flaming KKK hoods in the background are such a lovely touch.

    Eugene Robinson's idea: (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by oculus on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:56:22 AM EST
    But I'd rather lock him in a room with the parents of those Rutgers kids and let him try to explain himself.

    I'd rather the Rutgers women's basketball confront Imus.  

    Rtugers team confront Imus? (none / 0) (#10)
    by lindalawyer on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 06:24:46 AM EST
    I would say that the issue is not the insult to the team members, its the fact that all african-american young people are further degraded by such comments. Although I like your idea-----. Also, if I understood Jeralyn, Imus's comment about ÿou people are never satisfied" is the most significant  indicator of what Imus really thinks, and his lack of genuine contrition.

    which pretty much proves (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 08:28:32 AM EST
    the point i made in an earlier post: when someone consistently makes "bad jokes", they're no longer jokes. at their core, they truly believe what they're saying. whether they admit it or not is irrelevant.

    imus and his ilk have been doing this for years, and have been given a pass, because they're "entertainers", not serious journalists or commentators. guess what, their audience agrees with them, and pays the bills.

    that's what we really should be concerned about.

    ding! -- exactly -- cpinva! (none / 0) (#17)
    by the rainnn on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 09:00:51 AM EST
    ". . .they're no longer jokes. at their
    core, they truly believe what they're
    saying. whether they admit it or not
    is irrelevant. . ."


    the above-described new york times
    incident is the one that led to don
    imus' pledge to clarence page, if
    memory serves. . .  time to recognize
    that a national audience is a gift,
    and a privilege, not a property right.

    now, i'm all for letting him "help him-
    restart his life in [new] media, by
    letting him try to re-build an audience,
    using a narrow-cast/podcast/webcast/
    internet radio model, on his own con-
    siderable dime, and time. . .

    i am not in favor of the leased public
    broadcast bandwidth being his to use,
    any longer, through c.b.s. and the like. . .

    so. . . gate -- meet imus.

    imus -- meet gate.


    The I-man is pathetic. (none / 0) (#9)
    by walt on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:10:38 AM EST
    This really is a sort of, kind of, indirect riff on Emile Zola's Germinal.  Really, now, it gives the whole concept a sort of, kind of sheen based on literary allusion.

    Basically, let's throw Don Imus into the shower room with the Rutgers women's basketball team.

    Imus and the Scarlet Knights (none / 0) (#12)
    by LimaBN on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 07:41:11 AM EST
    Okay, Mr. Big Shot Imus - let's see you spend thirty minutes on a basketball court with any one of those athletes.  You get to leave just as soon as you score a point.  In the meantime, the gym doors are open to whoever wants to watch.

    And - you get wear a big red t-shirt that says "Nappy-headed Ho" on it.  Suits you better than anyone else.

    Imus sponsors (none / 0) (#14)
    by hgardner on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 08:28:55 AM EST
    I think we need to know accurately who Imus' sponsors are. A two-week suspension is almost an endorsement of his comments.  

    As bad as his comment about Gwen Ifill was she is more of a public figure than college athletes whose only demand for the spotlight was to play their hearts out in a great game.

    time to go (none / 0) (#15)
    by Konnie on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 08:34:20 AM EST
    Sometimes its just best to step off the stage.  That time is now for this particular mean old man.
    His "schtik" is worn out.  His audience has grown weary and are mostly deaf or have died.  His guests are just as old and moldy, and most of them should take that hike into retirement land also.  I think Imus has been kept around like we kept around Milton Berl way past his expiration date - he used to be funny. He used to be relavent.  and of course there is the guilt - lets all whine together - he does so much for the cancer kids....
    Well he should do it full time.........and without a national microphone

    Stupidity (none / 0) (#16)
    by peacrevol on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 08:57:34 AM EST
    I think what rings true the most to me about him saying something like that on the radio is not necessarily the racial and sexual bigotry that is evident by such remarks as it is the ignorance it takes to say something like that. He was talking about student athletes who have trained and conditioned themselves to be excellent at what they do on the court and probably in most cases in the classroom as well. To think that he was stupid enough to go on air and verbally slap them in the face even as a joke just puts him in a whole new category of dumb@$$es.

    and I would imagine that Howard Stern is going to have a field day with this. I dont think Howard Stern likes him that much...just a hunch.

    OH And (none / 0) (#18)
    by peacrevol on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 09:04:40 AM EST
    From Al Sharpton's radio show:

    "Our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far. And this time we went way too far. Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it."[

    IMO, He missed the boat with his lesson learned. He could have made fun of the Rutger's women's basketball team even though they dont deserve it. But some ways of making fun of people is just absolutely uncalled for. I'm not creative enough to think of anything funny as an example, but it could have been done in a way that probably even the basketball players he was talking about would have thought funny. But, then again, he doesnt seem to be that creative either.

    Cowboys must get off the ranch (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 09:22:53 AM EST
    often if they want to play nationally and globally.  I have never known what to make of Imus.  I understand that old cranky cowboy thing because I had a few of them in my family in the last generation, but that was a generation ago.  They spent a lot of time isolated and they said such things without malice because of that isolation.  Is that cranky cowboy thing his schtick or is it who he really is?  If it is his schtick why would he pick that one?  We do have cowboys who have evolved.  If it is who he really is how did he manage to not evolve given his current daily exposure to the outside world?  I never knew what he was doing on my television in the mornings anyhow.  I guess I couldn't watch much because it was like being unable to escape  my family's rancher dysfunction from the past generations.

    Tracy (1.00 / 2) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 09:26:46 AM EST
    Imus is to cowboy as man made Global Warming is to science.

    What???? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 09:46:35 AM EST
    I just don't get it dude.  I'm trying today but I can't seem to understand you.  Usually I understand you enough to be snotty to you but I don't understand you a bit this morning.  Oh well, the internet can be difficult that way ;)

    Rutgers coach is responding on CNN, (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 10:45:21 AM EST
    I'm watching right now.  I have goosebumps listening.  There is nothing like hearing the words of those who have been belittled.  As human beings we can all hear it and we all get it when it is spoken like this.  Not sure what is going to happen to Imus after this.

    Overkill (none / 0) (#24)
    by 1980Ford on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 11:24:38 AM EST
    I don't like Imus but that matters not. I think this is overkill, a sort of political lynching. That is not to equate this will real lynching, of course, but it is overkill. Like with Richards, overreaction will only justify the racists, and if Imus is fired many other people might start to sympathize with him because the punishment does not fit the crime. They say it takes a big man to apologize, but it takes a bigger man (or woman) to accept an apology. Was the apology sincere? Even if not, many will perceive this as overkill after an apology. Going this route is more of a war of words than a solution to racism. In a war, few win, and to outsiders it is often difficult to be sure who the good guys/bad guys are.

    Imus was wrong, but so is the overkill because of its unintended consequences.

    Middle Aged? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Dr Zaius on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 11:31:30 AM EST
    "... volley of male camaraderie by a group of amused, middle-aged white men"


    Ms Ifill, you were a small baby when Imus was middle aged.

    i looked at this again (none / 0) (#26)
    by cpinva on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 01:11:52 PM EST
    and i have something of a problem with ms. ifill. to whit:

    I know, because he apparently did it to me.
    italics are mine.

    now, mr. imus either did or didn't do this to ms. ifill. if he did, why doesn't she say so? why use a qualifier? if he didn't, or she doesn't know, why bring it up to begin with? the only reason i can see is to create an excuse for writing a column about...........gwen ifill.

    . . . This is not about me.

    well, yeah, it is about ms. ifill, about an alleged insult that may or may not have been directed at her, that she didn't even know about for five years. what, she was hiding in a cave? if this wasn't about her, she'd not have mentioned it to begin with, and would have expended the entire column on the rutger's lady's bball team, and all the other parties the wretched imus has "joked" about over the years.

    but she didn't. hell, she isn't even certain she was actually insulted by the man. that doesn't seem to stop her from yammering on about it though.

    Don Imus (none / 0) (#28)
    by euro american on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:01:58 PM EST
    News Release
    Contact: Lou Calabro
    (650) 312-8284  

                                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Don Imus Spoke Improperly
    Is there a reason behind his faux pas?

    San Bruno, Ca. April, 10,2007. Lou Calabro, President of the European/American Issues Forum reminds us that the Zebra Killings occurred in San Francisco during 1974 and is arguably the worst racially motivated serial hate crimes in the 20th Century. A group of black men belonging to the Nation of Islam murdered 15 European American white citizens, and the state confirmed 71 similar killings in California.

    When the killers were apprehended,  African American San Franciscan Dr. Carlton P. Goodlett publisher/editor for the San Francisco Sun wrote that he could understand the killings, and was surprised that there were not more, but he did not condone the killings. San Francisco City Hall's Plaza side street has been named after him.

    Although we do not know what is in Don Imus' mind, we know that there exists today a serious black on white crime crisis. The recent white victims Channon Christian/Christopher Newsom** rape, robbery, torture mutilation by four black men is a perfect example of that crisis--and yet it is not being discussed in America. To the contrary, that crime has been hidden from readers by our national newspapers.

    That, in our opinion, is partly what is behind Don Imus' remarks. The knowledge that there exists a crisis of horrible black on white crimes  today, and yet, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jessie Jackson are only interested in some stupid, offensive remarks by Imus, while ignoring the horrid roots of those remarks.

    Black Columnist Eugene Robinson writes "What was Don Imus thinking" (SF Chronicle 4/10/07). We say, Mr. Robinson, that many European American white Americans are thinking about black on white hatred and crimes being committed against them, and maybe, just maybe that is what is behind Don Imus' remarks.

    We too do not condone Don Imus' remarks, but we are surprised that there are not more. Then, and only then will these faux pas' by Imus and others come close to an end. Lets end black on white crime, that is far more important to the survival of America.

    **  http://readthis.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/the-final-hours-of-channon-christians-life/

    Would you like ... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Sailor on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 02:35:50 PM EST
    ... a pointy little hat to go with that pointy little head?

    81.7% of the people ARE NOT A DOWNTRODDEN MINORITY!


    Imus and Sharpton (none / 0) (#30)
    by diogenes on Tue Apr 10, 2007 at 11:30:03 PM EST
    Al Sharpton didn't resign from politics after the Tawana Brawley hoax, though people were affected in a more serious and malicious way than by Don Imus' jokes (which were much less offensive to African-American women than the lyrics of many rap and hip-hop songs).

    "Is there a reason behind his faux pas?" (none / 0) (#31)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:39:54 PM EST
    yes, there is. he's an idiot. i thought we'd pretty much established that, weren't you listening?