Thursday, April 12, 2007

Listening to Don Imus for the articles

I've been reluctant to comment on the Don Imus controversey because in my opinion, the more attention it receives, the better Imus emerges from this. Let's face it with the McCain campaign sputtering, Imus didn't have much juice. Now he's topic A. And even if CBS fires him, he will pop up somewhere else, and when he does it'll be a big deal. As opposed to a week ago when he was off everyone's radar. I'm not saying he did this on purpose to draw attention to himself, but I'm not convinced this episode will be a net loss for him.

But we're at the point now where I don't think my drop in the proverbial bucket is going to make a big difference.

I am not a regular listener of the program. My dad would listen to him occasionally when I was a teenager and I was in the car, as he was on New York's sports radio station, shortly after he emerged from rehab. I don't recall being particularly impressed.

His market niche now seems to be Howard Stern for people who don't want to admit they would listen to Howard Stern. So we get the raucous locker room humor, with an interview with a big politician or journalist thrown in for gravitas.

The result is something like Hooters -- yeah, I'm there for the great wings! The fact that there's scantily clad women around is a nice bonus, but not the reason why guys would say they hang out there. We get the racy content with the cover that there's at least a theoretically plausible alternative reason for us being there. With Howard Stern a a strip club, there's no escaping what's going on, Imus and Hooters leave open the possibility of something else.

Which begs the question, per Timothy Noah's article, of what's in it for the bigwigs, the McCains, Russerts, Gregorys, who come on the show. To me, it seems it give them an opportunity to burnish their "regular guy" cred, in a way that appearing on, say, NPR, does not. They know about the other side, as their Jeckyll/Hyde explanations acknowledge. They get to expand their audience to the kind that enjoys locker room humor, who might not ordinarily watch Meet the Press or any other news show. So maybe on election night, when Joe Sixpack is deciding which station to watch to get results, he might watch the channel with that guy he heard on Imus.

Noah refers to how Imus often uses co-host Bernard McGuirk to say the most offensive stuff. I submit that Imus's A-list guests use Imus in a similar way -- they get access to an audience that enjoys crass humor without having to get dirty themselves. And the audience is using them as a cover to access crass humor.

No winners here.


Anonymous said...


Imus has a history of slurs against African Americans.

His former colleague - that very same Howard Stern - has been one to have publicly levelled that charge for years now.

Stern was specific that he and others heard him call a receptionist or secretary a "nigger" to her face, in a totally non-joking matter.

Larry King once questioned Imus on this and he admitted he probably is guilty of the charge.

I've found his attempts to apologize to be absolutely pathetic.

That's interesting, because I think a sincere apology would have been much closer to acceptable. But if there was a way to not apologize, he found it.

a) He waited too long. He first offered a half-hearted apology. He only took it up a notch as the storm continued to build.
b) He tried to brag about how much he knows about sickle cell anemia (proving to us what a non-racist do-gooder he is).
c) He lectured Sharpton on the term 'nappy' - "these terms your own people use all the time" he said. (note: a racist apologizing for racism to another racist is pretty rich.)
d)He told how he has had dinner with African American cancer-stricken children at his ranch. (Some of my best friends are....).

His efforts should have been solely to contact the Rutgers team and offer his most sincere apologies directly face to face. He's said it will happen - but saying it will happen is nothing but crass.

I don't think he's going to emerge from this unscathed. I think he's lost his national audience and there is nothing he can now do about it - and he knows this. If he finds employment again at his age - isn't he 67? - it won't be with the clout he had just two weeks ago.

What politician would now dare go on his show?

Ted Burke said...
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Thomas Paine said...

I have never actually listened to or watched his shows -- beyond some clips shown elsewhere, but from what I hear, this is just more of the same crap that seems to be what sells advertising these days.

Sad fucking commentary on our society (end crotchety old geezer mode)

Ted Burke said...

Don Imus is a crotchety geezer who, on his best day at the microphone, radiates an incomprehensible arrogance that cannot be traced to any innate talent or knack on his part. There is nothing intrinsic about Imus--not intellect, not wit, not looks--that is admirable or worth the stale sweat naked envy evokes. His talent, as it were, is his penchant for being an asshole, of not giving a good goddamn what others think of him. What is obvious is that he's that sort who merely wanted to be famous, and didn't care what he was famous for. It paid off, to be sure, since he's been marketed as that supposedly rare breed of iconoclastic truth tellers who actually say what the rest of us are thinking." It's claptrap and marketing, and the drive time audience loved to listen to the bellicose bile and offending slurs
for those pre-dawn excursions on the freeways to the office. His bad karma has gathered against him over all the years that he's been given a pass by bosses and media critics, and his recent fall, having been fired by both MSNBC and CBS in the aftermath of his "nappy headed hos" crack about the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team, strikes me as something he might has well have been asking for. Ideally, we will have seen the last of this frowning scarecrow and the rest of us can get on with things that actually interest us.But no. The story isn't going anywhere, and the experience of OJ, Michael Jackson and the debacle of Anna Nicole Smith staying for ceaseless, seamless, unending periods of time on our broadcast and cable talk shows remind us that American media is addicted to celebrity , obsessing over it as if it were a religion,a metaphysically fixed certainty. The issue of racism and misogyny and other offenses are no longer the point; everyone wants to get their say in, everyone with half a a foot in the door of Fame wants to be associated with this farce, to the extent that the bad faith is boundless. Al Sharpton's fiasco with the Tanya Brawley and Jessie Jackson's referring to New York as "Hymietown" are not forgotten, but they aren't mentioned as the two of them bray and pontificate about injustice and all manner of foul words and deeds. The injustice, though, is that everyone having their say, even if what's uttered only mirrors that thing they claim to find abhorrent.

Keifus said...
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Keifus said...

Let's try to make this in coherent English, shall we?

A former colleague (not that guy, the other one) was an Imus fan. I had no idea why he was then, and even less now. Vaguely curious, I gave the I-man one listen on teh way home from work, and couldn't get pasat the rambling, incoherent delivery. It had the feeling of being cornered by some tired old drunk at someone else's family picnic. Isn't radio supposed to be about voice talent as much as anything else?

"But Keifus, the interviews..." Not the interviews. I think Don Imus has more to do with cultural reinforcement. So why not fire him? No doubt they can dig out some other genial guy in a Stetson by the end of the month to fit the bill.

I greet his firing with a hearty whatever.