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

What goes around

Stop what you’re doing right now and read Howie Carr’s Herald column on Don Imus, starring Mike Barnicle (unnamed, but he’s hard to miss), Alan Dershowitz, Riddick Bowe and an unspeakably sick putdown of Carr’s wife that Howie attributes to the I-Man. No direct evidence that Imus ever said it, but Carr claims Imus settled out of court, and I believe him.

Meanwhile, Imus himself was back on the air this morning, doing his “I’m contrite but I’m really a decent person” thing before beginning his two-week suspension on Monday. I caught him with one of his enablers, Paul Begala, who turned in a performance that could only be described as icky.

If Imus’ bosses were really serious about punishing Imus for his “nappy-headed hos” crack, why are they giving him a week to spin this his way before giving him a timeout?

More: Is the Globe’s front-pager on Barack Obama’s restrained reaction to Imus really a story? Squaring the Globe says no.

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  1. Stella

    O lente, lente currite noctis equi!

  2. Steve

    If Imus’ bosses were really serious about punishing Imus for his “nappy-headed hos” crack, why are they giving him a week to spin this his way before giving him a timeout?It all depends on ratings and advertising dollars. If Imus’s ratings were similar to those of John DiPietro, he’d be gone in a second.Similarly, if people stopped listening to him or advertisers quit advertising on his show, Imus would be canned immediately.It was a little hard to stomach Dennis & Callahan’s Imus outrage this morning, especially given their proclivity for comparing gorillas to METCO kids and making endless fun of women who play or coach basketball for being “lesbos”. They’re still on the air, as are scum like Michael Savage Weiner.So please excuse me if I yawn about Imus. I fail to see why he’s deserving of any attention, commentary or air time.

  3. mike_b1

    Steve’s right. And I don’t see what the big deal is about Carr’s piece. A Boston columnist using his platform to launch a personal attack against a public figure who had a bad day. What’s so novel about that? Shaughnessy does that on a daily basis.

  4. Anonymous

    I’ll take Imus over sleazeball Howie Carr anyday.

  5. Anonymous

    actually, that is one of carr’s funniest, best and most relevant columns in years.

  6. mike_b1

    Relevant to whom? The five people in Boston who listen/watch Imus? Alan Dershowitz? Carr’s wife?

  7. Anonymous

    Wow. I know Howie Carr has never written anything that is technically libel, but the mere idea that someone who has made a professional life out of picking on people would sue someone the first time he was on the receiving end is just staggering.

  8. Zach Everson

    As I mentioned in a previous comment, my father is an Imus fan. When I taunted him about having to find a new morning talk show for two weeks he had a good point: “Johns Hopkins estimates 600,000 people have died in Iraq because of Bush’s war. Yet the press is obsessed about some old guy making a racist comment. Which is more important?”

  9. Rick in Duxbury

    OK, so ratings are relevant only if one is right-wing? Sounds like someone is suffering from Al Franken withdrawal symptoms. Dan K. had it right. Payback’s a bitch. Say what you will, when Howie has his fast-ball, (admittedly sporadic of late), few in town can touch him. Unlike former disc jockeys or politicians, he has institutional memory AND has actually written against a deadline prior to entering radio. I’m told that’s a lot harder than it looks.

  10. Don

    Icky? Is that journalismspeak?

  11. mike_b1

    rick, you take bizarre to new levels. No one in Boston cares about Imus. From the looks of things, no one outside Boston cares about him, either. Howie’s taking potshots at a comatose victim. What’s next on his agenda, organized religion?

  12. Don

    The Howie Carr article almost makes him into a sympathetic character. Then he attacks the poor old druggie, almost like elder abuse. Find him a nice pasture.

  13. Neil

    I noticed that Onion-esque Globe article on my out the door. The correct headline:”Usual suspects complain: Obama’s ritualistic denunciation insufficiently enthusiastic, tardy”Quite a story you got there, Klein and Williams.

  14. Anonymous

    Mike,It isn’t always about you. Given the choice to believe you or Dan on whether “anyone cares about Imus”, Dan wins. (I stopped counting at 13 comments.)

  15. O-FISH-L

    The belittling of Howie Carr by some here is bordering on comical. Carr is the closest thing we have to “checks and balances” in this state. Frankly, I’m disappointed he wasted a column on a marginal national figure like Imus.Does anyone wonder where our state income tax would be without Howie? Where Billy Bulger would be? Where Whitey Bulger would be? How many more victims there would be? Where Matt Amorello and turnpike tolls would be? Where John Kerry would be? Where the Commonwealth might be under Govs. Silber, Harshbarger, Roosevelt and O’Brien? Where the constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage would be? Where the Herald would be?Certainly Howie is a demonic figure for liberals and it’s understandable that the “beautiful people” dislike him for exposing their wildly contradictory patterns (see Howie’s annual count of how many folks volunteer to pay income tax at the higher rate) but to minimize the impact Howie Carr has had and continues to have on this region is absurd and quite hilarious. PLEASE!

  16. amusedbutinformedobserver

    Comparing Imus’ racist remarks to a sports columnist’s commentary on the performance of professional athletes is absurd. Howie Carr the savior of the Commonwealth? PLEASE! Let us not elevate recycled talk-show caller comments, which seem to form the basis for most columns these days, into leadership positions on public issues. Perhaps Carr ought to study Imus carefully — and take heed. The symptoms are the same — tired act, phoning it in, years with the same material. Part of what is toppling Imus is that the public has tired of his act. Is that Howie Carr we see in the on-deck circle?

  17. Tony

    If Imus had attacked Howie, I don’t think it would have been suable. But since he attacked his wife, it made a case. Wives and kids of public figures should be off limits, unless they are hacks on state payrolls or criminals or something else which Howie regularly writes about.

  18. Dan Kennedy

    Tony: You can always sue. I don’t think Howie would have won, though. In order to prove libel, you’ve got to show that someone (in this case, Imus) said something about you that was false and defamatory. In this case, Howie would have had a hard time proving that a “reasonable person” would have taken Imus’ slur about his wife as true. Parody receives very high protection under the First Amendment. No doubt Imus settled because his employer didn’t want the bad publicity.

  19. Anonymous

    Consider the source. Howie Carr has made a career of maligning almost everyone who disagrees with him. Given Imus’ stature as a reasonably well-known personality on a competing station, it is certainly not surprising to see Carr pile on. I used to find Carr relatively entertaining until I heard his show following the death of Rose Kennedy. Beyond tasteless.

  20. mike_b1

    Anon 10:27: When a talk show host is as low in the ratings as Imus is, and it takes a room full of people to determine just when/where said talk show host can be seen/heard, then yes, said talk show host is indeed irrelevant.Dan continues to write about Imus because, well, Dan has to write about something, and my guess is he’s not up to going after legitimate targets (e.g., Brian McGrory). Btw, most of the comments here are offered up by the same handful of people. And 13 doth not a majority of greater Boston make.Love and kisses,mike

  21. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I’m not a fan of McGrory’s writing style, but please, tell us, what’s he done to deserve his status as a “legitimate target”?

  22. Peter Porcupine

    Mike – you’re confused. Just because 4 of the dozen comments are yours doesn’t mean that only 5 people are reading or thinking. Did you know anonymous is actually more than one person?

  23. mike_b1

    Oh, I don’t know: the complete absence of logic or reason in his columns, per chance? Like yesterday’s bizzare attack on Patrick, the feds, Ford’s CEO, etc. There’s crime in Boston’s streets, and per BM it’s the governor’s fault, then it’s the Iraq War’s, then it’s Bush’s, and so on. Never mind that the Feds sent billions Boston’s way for an underground road that wasn’t needed. And never mind that nowhere does BM offer up this novelty: a solution!Or his curious April 4th stab at defending judges, or at least one judge, who apparently is worthy of sainthood because she showed up in court with a burst appendix. McGrory attempts to be the voice of the common man, yet he is to Boston’s disenfranchised what hypochondriacs are to cancer victims.Another topic you might comment on would be the near complete redundancy among Globe columnists, whom outside the Arts pages no longer seem to have specific beats.

  24. mike_b1

    PP: You might be right, but how do you know for sure? For all we know, “Anon” is you. Or Dan. Or me. Or maybe even I’m Dan. Or you.

  25. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: You’re proving my point. I think you’ll find that I tend not to go after people unless I think they’re doing some evil, or are just plain wrong. I hardly think McGrory falls into the evil category. I have occasionally tweaked him, as I did here.

  26. mike_b1

    Dan, there’s no room in there for writers/reporters who are in (way) over their heads?

  27. Anonymous

    “writers/reporters who are in (way) over their heads”OK, cue the lightning bolts!

  28. Anonymous

    Imus has been doing this for years. He lost his fastball probably 10 years ago, at least, so it was easy to jump ship. He hasn’t been pulling down huge ratings since the early days of WFAN. That he’s gone is of little consequence. My problem with this whole thing is the discourse. On both sides. Do I really have to list to Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity lecture me about this topic? And Carr’s joking right? Hey, Howie, by the grace of God go thee. There’s a 500 pound elephant in the room that no one seems to notice, so you may want to shut up. David Scondras, anyone?My God, we actually get our news and opinions for some of these people. Maybe fake Ben Franklin was right in those Free Mason commercials. What a mess.

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