Imus: Crucified For One Remark?

The main talking point you hear now from some of the Imus enablers is 'what a shame he is crucified for one remark' and of course the ever reliable 'what about Al Sharpton?' and its corollary 'what about rappers?' Personally, I think NBC and CBS can do what they want (and MSNBC already has) and people will react to what they do as THEY want. It is a free country right?

But let's stick to the facts when discussing the issue. First, the idea that the issue with Imus is 'one remark' is ludicrous. Imus has been spewing racist and sexist talk for a long time. He has broken pledges to not continue doing it.

Let's start by going back to 1998:

MIKE WALLACE: You told Tom ANDERSON, the producer, in your car coming home that Bernard McGuirk is there to do "nigger" jokes.

DON IMUS: Well I've n-- I never use that word.


TOM ANDERSON: I'm right here.

DON IMUS: Did I use that word?

TOM ANDERSON: I recall you using that word.

DON IMUS: Oh, okay, well then I used that word, but I mean-- of course that was an off the record conversation-- [LAUGHTER]

MIKE WALLACE: The hell it was!

And the sordid saga continued.

In 2000, TomPaine.com tried to run an ad in the New York Times about Imus:

Editor's Note: On Monday May 8 TomPaine.com submitted the following ad to the New York Times for publication on the op-ed page. Subsequently, the Times informed us that the paper would refuse to publish the ad because it contains racial and ethnic slurs. We objected. The Times stuck by its position. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher, called to explain that the paper sets high standards for advertisements and that our ad violated these standards. We pointed out that we consider the ad a part of our news coverage. He insisted the ad is an ad, not news. We then submitted a revised draft of the ad excluding the slurs. This version of the ad is what the Times agreed to publish. The ad notes that the paper refused to publish the slurs which are the subject of the ad.

While the NYT believes that the Imus show slurs are not fit to print, the paper continues to advertise on the show. (TomPaine.com formerly advertised on the show but withdrew after writer Philip Nobile made us aware of the pattern of bigoted remarks.)


Power talker Don Imus could be losing his "God Squad."

Father Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman, longtime regulars on "Imus in the Morning," might quit. Why?

They recently witnessed a racist outburst by Imus producer and sidekick Bernard McGuirk, who Mike Wallace once said "glories in the role of resident bigot."

"It was the most direct form of bigotry," Father Hartman said of McGuirk's April 28 'parody' of basketball player Jayson Williams.

"It's against what I believe in and what my Church believes in� If that is characteristic of the entire show, then we couldn't be on the show, but I don't believe it is."

Well, Father, the record shows otherwise.

A sample of the Imus team's routine sport:

On the New York Knicks: "chest-bumping pimps� the New York Crips."

On superstar Gloria Estefan: "this little Chihuahua-looking 'ho."

On serial gay-killer Andrew Cunannan: "Why are they bothering to catch this guy? He's just whacking off freaks!"

On Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Native American: "The guy from F Troop."

On CNN's female anchors: "dyke-ie broads."

On media critic Howard Kurtz: "boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jew boy."

Imus distances himself from the worst of it, but he's presiding, it's his show.

So the "God Squad" has second thoughts. What about A-list regulars like Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, Dan Rather, Cokie Roberts, Howard Fineman, and Jeff Greenfield?

Clarence Page, the respected columnist, told TomPaine.com last week that he's "very reluctant" to appear again with Imus. And he thinks Imus should apologize to Gwen Ifill, Page's friend and accomplished colleague.

When Ifill, who like Page is black, worked for the New York Times, Imus said, "Isn't the Times wonderful? It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House."

Who's laughing?

In 2001, Imus took the pledge:

CLARENCE PAGE: Are you raising your hand, right?

DON IMUS: I have it up.

CLARENCE PAGE: Okay. Okay, number one -- I, Don Imus--

DON IMUS: I, Don Imus--

CLARENCE PAGE: -- do solemnly swear--

DON IMUS: Do solemnly swear--

CLARENCE PAGE: -- that I will promise to cease all simian references black athletes--

DON IMUS: That I will promise to cease all simian references to back--black athletes--

CLARENCE PAGE: -- a ban on all references to non-criminal blacks as thugs, pimps, muggers and Colt 45 drinkers--

DON IMUS: I promise to do that.

CLARENCE PAGE: Very good! How about an end to Amos 'n Andy cuts, comparison of New York City to Mogadishu, and all parodies of black voices unless they are done by a black person, cause you're really not very good at it.

DON IMUS: I think Bernard should be doing this. [LAUGHS] [LAUGHTER]

CLARENCE PAGE: Bernard where are you?

And of course, Imus broke his pledge, as TomPaine.com documented:

Reminding listeners of a previous Ferrer interview conducted by his on-air sidekick Bernard McGuirk outside Yankee Stadium, Imus said,
He [McGuirk] was talking with Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and he asked President Ferrer (laughter) how it felt being the mayor of Mogadishu (laughter). ... So we begin on a sour note, but one would hope that it'll get better. Anyway, please welcome to the 'Imus in the Morning' program the Bronx Borough President, one of the people running for the mayor of New York City, Fernando Ferrer. Good morning, Mr. Ferrer.

"Good morning, Don, how are you?" replied the politician, pretending that he did not hear the insult to his consituency. To complete Ferrer's mortification, Imus replayed McGuirk's moldy oldie remote from Yankee Stadium, spiked with a Colt 45 reference and dripping with disdain for "the natives of the area," one of whom McGuirk asked out of nowhere, "Have you ever mugged anybody?"

. . . Although Rich stoutly defends gay rights in print, he winks at Imus's homophobia, as the following dialogue, reprised on March 23, reveals (note Imus's trademark flattery):

Imus: Frank Rich was writing theater reviews for the New York Times when Charles and I discovered him. And it was some of the most entertaining prose I've ever read. ... [His reviews] were so wonderfully well-written and educational with historical and literary references that were in fact educational. ... [He] earned the apellation "butcher of Broadway" and somebody thought, well, why not just let him hammer everybody rather than just the homos on Broadway.

. . . Whatever the price of telling off Imus, nobody in his league seems willing to pay it. Not Tim Russert, who said nothing after Imus demeaned his then-fellow NBC News employee, Gwen Ifill, as a "cleaning lady," as reported by the New York Daily News.

. . . [Chris] Matthew's crise de conscience began on April 10, when I phoned him about his latest Imus appearance. A few weeks earlier, he went on immediately following a nasty McGuirk parody of Cardinal Egan, including a line about how you know when a black woman is menstruating. Instead of raising hell about the slur, Matthews disputed McGuirk's Irish brogue.

. . . And what about the anti-gay and anti-black parts of the parody? Why didn't those areas disturb him more? "I don't have an answer," he said. As for the Imus show's chronic Jim Crow content, he expressed ignorance. "I listen to the show, but not that much. He used to do a parody of Vernon Jordan which was just 'Amos 'n' Andy.' Is this still going on?"

. . . Imus: He's this punk who ah, who ah, thinks that I'm a racist and thinks because we make fun of people that we, or whatever, and ah so he finally got TomPaine.com jacked up and ran a op-ed advertisement in the New York Times. Then my old friend Jack White, who I just recently found out was an African American, and we attacked him for months. I wish I had known he was African American I could have included that in my attacks on him, but I attacked him as if he were a real person -- ha ha -- and he wrote a column about us and so on, and so he calls Matthews. Every time someone appears on the program this jerk calls him and tries to get 'em not to appear on the program. [Unintelligible] and I read his transcript with what Matthews said and I thought he acquitted himself very well because in fact, do we make fun of everybody and do we get out of line? Yeah. Are we racist? No. Anyway, thanks Chris, that was ah, I read that this morning. I, obviously, you're not endorsing everything on the program, nor would we ask you to, but I thought you were fair and honest and all that. . . .

Support Imus if you wish, but you better deal with the facts. In a later post, I will discuss the 'Al Sharpton' and 'rappers' defenses Imus' enablers have thrown up.

< R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut | Obama on Fox >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    good summary (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by orionATL on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 11:19:30 AM EST
    a nice summary of the evidence.

    before our media and the a-man's friends get all bent out of shape (akin to pitying poor lewis libby at trial),

    let's keep in mind that imus' speech is

    COMMERCIAL speech.

    he does this for money.

    he's not sitting on his porch with friends drinking beer telling race or sex jokes.

    he's talking publicly.

    and he is being paid to talk publicly and provocatively.

    IMO we have a real problem in this country now,

    especially for the political system,

    with commenters like limbaugh and o'reilly who are commercial provocateurs and propagandists.

    personally, i think it is a good thing when a social system exhibits impatience with mean-spirited commercial speech.

    we don't need to invoke laws or legal action against imus,

    we simply need to do what has been done,

    see that his commercial sponsors understand our  general expression of disapproval of his comments.

    the imus set-to may serve as a warning to other commercial provocateurs.

    but don't anybody celebrate too much.

    cbs and nbc are still saying only a two-week time out.

    a two-week stint sitting in the corner,

    followed by saying "i'll never do this again." 1000 times.

    and imus will be reformed.


    Not commercial speech (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 11:40:50 AM EST
    as the term is used in the law.

    Commercial speech is akin to advertisements.


    good to know (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by orionATL on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:43:45 PM EST
    i had no idea of that meanning.

    i was using "commercial" idiosyncratically to describe speech made for the purpose of earning money.

    limbaugh's speech is, to me, commercial speech. that includes his mocking of michael fox's illness.

    bill o'reilly's speech is commercial speech in my special sense, including his flagrant lies about political people or events and his turning history on its head time and time again.

    it's not that our society can't tolerate this commercial speech, it's just that i suspect there is a benefit to creating a tension between businesses supporting this "commercial" speech and what society will tolerate.

    let each side be a little bit uncertain of what might happen.


    Query [no personal knowledge]: (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 11:32:30 AM EST
    This week I asked an African-American retired law enforcement officer what he thought.  He said Imus is "liberal" and his show is a forum for Democrats.  This surprised me.  Is that correct?  [The person who sd. this sd. he'll vote for Fred Thompson.]

    Completely false (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 11:39:45 AM EST
    The advertisers are pulling out? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 11:58:58 AM EST
    What are they afraid of? Consumer activism? LOL

    Not a cricifixion (what an insult!). Just another racist boil being lanced. It feels better already.

    Imus speaks the way rich white Rethugs do (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:31:23 PM EST
    when they think no one other than other Rich White Rethug males can hear them.  

    I know.  I spent enough time around them, professionally and socially-associated-with-work.  When I did spend my time that way, I was in a "speak when you're spoken to" mode, such that I got to listen to them, their discussions, their jokes, their private opinions, and all the rest.

    They sounded just like Imus.  Blacks were "some people" or "those people" or "n*ggers" or occasionally "coloreds".  There were woodshed jokes, rarely a bad attempt at an "Amos 'n' Andy" accent, and mostly a lot of bewilderment why they couldn't raise themselves up by their bootstraps and stop complaining about racism.  There was a good-sized component of agreeing with the sorts of things Al Campanis and Jimmy the Greek said, and more bewilderment about why those two got the axe.

    It should go without saying that these guys, with few exceptions (these usually being service academies), had gone to elite private colleges (all-white, all male when they attended) and equally elite professional/graduate schools, had risen through the worlds of finance, business, or law on merit (make no mistake, they did work hard and long) and their placement*, and rarely had encountered anything even remotely resembling what any African-american has to deal with daily, even today.

    So, the absolute bewilderment of the Rethugs, while astonishing to most of the readers here, is both genuine and understandable - to their eyes and ears, Imus was speaking the truths they grew up with and know.  They don't know any different, though they do know that good manners requires they mask their true patterns of speech and belief, just like one doesn't belch at dinner.

    I'm not excusing.  I'm explaining.
    * I.e., they got a good start on being rich white guys through networks of family, fellow alumni and being put in the right place (or given the right "go see") at the right time with the right person making a good recommendation.

    Is that you Fritz? (none / 0) (#17)
    by TexDem on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 03:15:21 PM EST
    We worked together at the Savannah Yacht Club as bartenders back in '90-'92.

    Just kidding scribe, but your description nailed my experience while I was there and the guy I worked with was named Fritz.


    Some facts about Imus (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by LonewackoDotCom on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:44:44 PM EST
    First of all, Imus is a hardcore conservative, even more conservative than Michael Savage ("The Savage Weiner"). Liberals literally quake in their boots about going on his show, fearing what's called in the industry "Yet another ultraconservative grilling by Don Imus". Imus strongly supported Bush last election, and has always only supported Republicans. He is a true reactionary.

    Second of all, Media Matters is to be congratulated for being the first to bring this to our attention. All comrades should revere their role as enforcers of what's right and true.

    Third of all, the question remains what should be done with Imus. Can he be rehabilitated? Should he be sent to a radio station in Nome? Will he voluntarily confess to his crimes at trial, or will he resist following the shining path of enlightenment?

    Your wit (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 01:39:00 PM EST
    cuts right to the heart of the matter. Poor Don Imus is really a closet liberal who just uses racism, sexism and homophobia to attract a core of unsuspecting conservatives to his ultra-progressive and liberal message. Indeed he is a true martyr for progressive values and free speech, the only thing standing between Keith Olbermann and a spell in Gitmo.

    Shame on us all for ever doubting Imus bona fides and his noble service in our cause.


    You might like this (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by irishkorean on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 12:45:28 PM EST
    some of the comments are golden..



    You work better with unlimited posts, this is a great forum for you.

    Greetings, fellow babies (5.00 / 5) (#12)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 01:30:14 PM EST
    I've been lurking here for quite some time. As a fan of BTD's I've been thinking of signing up for an account, but I never got around to it. Until now.

    Seeing that you and taylormatt are both commenters here, I finally had to sign up. I too am sick and tired of seeing Al Sharpton getting off scott-free every time Don Imus screws up. I look forward to BTD's next diary on this, the crux of the issue.


    Thanks for stopping by (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 02:18:01 PM EST
    Warren (none / 0) (#18)
    by peacrevol on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 04:02:48 PM EST
    What does Al Sharpton get away with? Besides thinking he's James Brown. He really should be reprimanded for his hair choice, but he gets away with that even when Don Imus doesnt screw up. I'm confused about what he gets away with necessarily every time Don Imus screws up.

    OOP OOOOP OOP My bad (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by peacrevol on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 04:04:42 PM EST
    i know i know "follow the links genius". My bad

    Funny diary (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 01:33:49 PM EST
    about money and commercial speech (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by orionATL on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 01:06:45 PM EST
    here's a para. from "newsweek" courtesy of a "huffington post" link:

    [ While getting rid of Imus might quiet the public controversy, it will certainly hit CBS where it hurts: in the pocketbook. Imus' show is syndicated by Westwood One, which CBS partly owns, and draws an estimated audience of 2.25 million, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing the trade publication Talkers. According to the Journal, the "Imus in the Morning" show accounts for 25 percent of the revenues of WFAN in New York--or roughly $20 million, The New York Times reported. That figure swells to more than $50 million when ad revenue for affiliates and cable outlet MSNBC are added, according to the Times ]

    from newsweek website april 11, 2007.

    that's quite a pile of dough.

    wonder what the a-man makes a year?


    it's not chump change.

    it's money, lots of money, that keeps guys like  imus, limbaugh, o'reilly on the air.

    Frankly (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 01:35:12 PM EST
    IT is chump change for both CBS and NBC.

    Imus (none / 0) (#2)
    by MarvinT on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 11:20:24 AM EST
         Imus and his crew have been disgusting for a long time. I'm happy that major advertisers have gotten his show cancelled. I don't believe in censorship, but advertisers have a right to chose their affiliations. It's sad that Imus was able to stay on the air so long. It's also sad that he can go back to radio and do well economically. If television is a wasteland, radio is a cesspool. Imus is no worse that Limbaugh, Savage or Ingrahm. Maybe that's why iPods are so popular.