By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Not much of a come-uppance

I’ve never thought Imus was a racist. Nor do I think he blurted out “nappy-headed hos” in order to goose his ratings. Nevertheless, he and his crew have repeatedly crossed the line over the years. This isn’t Michael Savage-style hate radio — rather, these are old men playing at being naughty boys. Still, Imus and company’s act is old and offensive, and it’s time to bring it to an end. A two-week suspension? Please.

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  1. endangered coffee

    Wait, Imus is still on the air? I stopped thinking about him sometime around 1994.

  2. Anonymous

    Just because someone said something offensive — and may even have a history of saying offensive things — means he deserves to lose his job? The other day you wrote about the San Francisco blogger and how the First Amendment is under assault from the government. At a time like this, shouldn’t the media (and especially those that teach media) be coming to Imus’ defense instead of hanging him out to dry? At the very least, the media should be pointing out the hypcorisy of Jesse Jackson’s protests, because he has made equally offensive comments about Jews in the past. The media should also be asking Al Sharpton if he really was offended by what Imus said or if, as he always does, he is blowing the situation out of proportion to generate more publicity for himself.

  3. Rick in Duxbury

    Did you really think it would be that easy to dislodge this tick? It will require the “Jaws of Life” to get rid of him. Too many politicians are enabled by this egomaniac. Blame them and the person who controls your radio.

  4. Cranky

    I usually listen to Imus on my 5-minute drive to the office, if only because there are no other alternatives. Dennis & Callahan are much more offensive on a daily basis than Imus. The only thing that makes the show mildly intersting is hearing some of the journalists that call the show. Imus will probably be gone for good soon because the journalists and politicians that have given him more credibility than he probably ever deserved will all certainly run for cover. Then all you have is a couple old men trying to be Opie and Anthony.

  5. Anonymous

    If you want to terminate the Imus program, fine; might I inquire as to what show you suggest as an alternative on local terrestrial radio ? You might like or dislike his show’s brand of humor, but his parade of politicians, pundits and media/arts notables commenting on national and world issues and events is not duplicated elsewhere in the morning radio drive time. PBS to me is not a replacement, so kindly think beyond that option.

  6. lucy the dog

    If Imus goes, can someone place a call to Sharpton regarding Jay Severin? Frankly, I understand none of this. The matter of who gets to offend without repercussions and who gets their teeth kicked into the curb has become all too arbitrary.

  7. Anonymous

    Like all people, there are good and bad features and you have to judge them based on your weighing of all sides.I will continue to listen to Imus because despite his occasional descent into sophmoric jackass behavior, he’s also one of the only outlets for serious interviews and discussion. Clinton may not have won in 1992 without Imus. Kerry’s best media moments have been on Imus. Imus and Matthews jumping on the Joe Wilson op/ed drove the issue and forced Cheney/Libby to lash out.If we fire him, do you think the replacement will be better? Al Roker is on the MSNBC site blogging that Imus should be fired. Now do you really want more “Al Roker” type broadcasting? Inane, inoffensive and utterly valueless.Imus still falls on the side of providing more value than ill in my opinion. I think he should stay.

  8. John Galt

    What do you expect from a nation that is habitually stuck in the 10th grade?

  9. Cody Pomeray

    Since air america died, I’ve come to the unexpected conclusion that mike & mike on espn radio is the best morning drive show. While neither local nor political they are a shining example of good sports talk radio with two likeable personalities and no lame attempts at “guy radio”.Along those lines, Felger is much better than the big show during pm drive. If espn had a decent signal, they could really challenge weei.I want to like Finneran but he drones on and on until I want to drive my car into the ocean.otherwise, it’s all about the podcasts.

  10. Anonymous

    You have to consider the source. What Don Imus said is offensive in its isolated context, but Imus is not a racist or sexist because he endorsed John Kerry in 2004 and is against Bush’s war in Iraq. The same is true for Mike Barnicle’s “Mandingo” comment about former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen’s African-American wife. This is not the 1950s; If you vote for Democrats in this day and age, you’re not a bigot because you support progressive policies. Imus could use the “n” word every day but if he endorses the Democratic nominee is, how can you call him a racist? On the other hand, knuckle dragging Republicans like Dennis & Callahan should be fired whether they offend people or not because they support racist politicians and policies.

  11. Dan Kennedy

    Cody: I hear you about Finneran. I want to like him, too, but he makes it hard. Hard to like his show, that is. I have no problem with him.

  12. michael

    Imus won’t lose his job because he makes money and that’s what it’s all about, but in my view he should.To begin with, this wasn’t some politician or entertainer being trashed. These were kids, kids who have managed to achieve something momentous.Think of the message it sends to young black people all over the country: no matter how hard you work, no matter what you manage to accomplish, you will never overcome the color of your skin and the texture of your hair. To white America you will never be anything but a [expletive deleted].Actually, what Imus said was not the worst. If you read farther down in the transcipt on MediaMatters, you’ll find that McGuirk used the term “jigaboo”, which will henceforth be known as the j-word.When I was growing up in the South, this was the worst of all racial epithets. The people I grew up among tended to mangle the English language, and the n-word was actually used more often descriptively as a corruption of the word “Negro” than pejoratively as a racial slur.But the j-word was never anything but the worst kind of trashing. It was a word that not even an avowed racist would use in mixed company.

  13. Anonymous

    Question: When was the last time any readers here saw, listened to or read a serious look into the causes of racial inequalities in our country? I ask because it really does seem that public persecution of individuals who say words people find offensive has completely replaced any real mainstream media attempts to get at the root causes of inequality. I’m not in any way excusing Imus, but just for once I’d like to read an in-depth report, on, say inner-city public schools, rather than be subjected to a two-week media circus over the latest celeb who said a word someone finds offensive.

  14. endangered coffee, pretty much time to head back to the ranch, Don.

  15. Anonymous

    The anonymous poster at 3:34 p.m. hit the nail on the head. Making a huge deal of what a radio talk show host said is not going to improve race relations in this country. If anything it will make them worse, because Al Sharpton’s overzealous and borderline vengeful calls for Imus to be fired are overshadowing the substantive work being done in the black community.Furthermore, the media uproar is drawing more attention to the glaring double standard that exists in the United States. Black rappers can make millions of dollars off records in which they demean women, threaten others’ lives and liberally use the n-word (in both the fraternal sense and the traditional racist sense) with no repercussions. But an old white guy on the radio utters one offensive phrase and all of a sudden society as we know it is falling apart. Give me a break.

  16. Tim Allik

    Have you heard what Michael Graham says about Muslims on a near-daily basis on WTTK? I find his remarks loads more offensive than Imus’ stupid remarks about “hos”. To me, Imus’ comment was just more evidence that his shtick is tired and old and not particularly funny. I think Jay Severin is considerably brighter than Graham and I actually learn something from his show. But he says nasty, distasteful stuff about illegal immigrants all the time (not the “clean” ones from Europe; the “dirty” ones from Mexico — that’s the sort of angle he pushes). With the Imus episode, the same old self-promoters — Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton — are at it again. Like Imus, their act is also tired and old and not particularly funny. Firing broadcasters for what they say on the air doesn’t strike me as the American Way.Let the marketplace decide, for better or worse.

  17. Anonymous

    Please tell me that Anon. 12:19 was speaking w/tongue in cheek.

  18. O-FISH-L

    And the winners are…the top rated programs. Period. Please stop kidding yourselves with the moral superiority. Imus is a clown and always has been, but so long as he brings in marginally good ratings, he will be retained. What’s hilarious and or tragic, is that in the case of Imus, the media allows “the Reverend” Al Sharpton (see the late Yankel Rosenbaum, the eight killed at Fredi’s Fashion Mart and the Tawana Brawley debacle) and “the Reverend” Jesse Jackson (see “Hymietown” and the shakedown of Budweiser) to lecture from some self-proclaimed bully pulpits.Imus made a horrendous comment and deserves at least two weeks off. Hopefully market conditions issue him an early retirement via the ratings.Meanwhile, Sharpton and Jackson deserve prison, not because they are black, but because of their prior conduct. How dare they lecture anybody, and shame on the silence of the media.

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