D.R.: Manhattan cowboy bites dust
Radio show host Don Imus shot off his mouth one too many times. CBS fired him Thursday in the middle of an on-air fundraiser for his ranch that helps children with cancer.
Off-hand remarks about the Rutgers womens basketball team, which had just lost in the national championship game to Tennessee, got a full-boil reaction that led to advertisers pulling from his show, MSNBC dropping the televised part of the show, and finally CBS pulling the plug on the Broadcast Hall of Famer.
Jesse Jackson called the firing a “victory for public decency.”
Well, OK. No argument here. The whole shock jock culture of racial and lifestyle epithets really is altogether too much. That Imus got away with similar remarks all these years is a little surprising.
And I notice that no one was particularly horrified when he called Rush Limbaugh a “fat, pill-popping loser.”
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Still, that doesn’t come close to calling college athletes “nappy-headed ho’s.” What possessed him, who knows?
But he’s gone from the broadcast airwaves. We’ll see whether a richer deal comes along to follow his rival Howard Stern over to satellite radio.
So Imus and his cowboy hat make the cover of Time Magazine on their way to radio boot hill. And a nation expends a lot of energy discussing those three words that eventually knocked him out.
On one level, it’s amazing that one dumb remark in a career of dumb remarks would ignite this frenzy. On another level, this is how freedom of speech plays out. You can say largely want you want. And listeners, critics, advertisers, peers and finally employers can express themselves, too. That includes ending your program, if you have one.
Don’t cry for the First Amendment. It’s fine. You’ll notice there’s nothing of the government in this drama.
Someone will step into the 66-year-old Imus’ slot and do his work better. And maybe a nation’s consciousness will raise just a bit as a result from a little more freedom from obnoxiously racial and misogynist commentary, such as it is.
Nothing wrong with the audience talking back to to talk radio.