Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Consider The Source, People

The Don Imus flap has now reached the media saturation point, as it manges to dip it's toes into both the Sports and News arenas, based on the "victims", the Rutgers women's basketball team coupled with the inside-the-beltway theme of his nationally syndicated morning radio show.

Imus has been working this shtick for 30-plus years, and at times his comments can seem to have emanated from some kind of 70's time warp. As you have know doubt heard, the aging radio icon referred to the Rutgers lady hoopsters as "nappy headed hos". The comment was pretty much off the cuff, as is the nature of radio, and was completely inappropriate. A few days later, here we are, the circus now in town.

Was the comment insensitive? Sure. Insulting? Yep. Racially ignorant? Definitely.

But, let's consider the source for a moment. Imus has not really been culturally relevant for quite some time. He has a national audience, but his ratings aren't exactly setting the industry on fire. He does generate decent billing numbers, which makes his show more attractive for bigger named advertisers looking to reach a more affluent demographic. Still, he is hardly the controversial shock jock he once was, and now spends as much time raising money for charity as he does snapping at his staff.

Again, it's Imus. Imus. It's like when your grandfather says something stupid - you shake your head, chalk it up to age, and move on, since you've undoubtedly tried to enlighten him in the past. If someone whose opinion I didn't give much credence to - let's use Ann Coulter as an example - said that Irish-Americans were a bunch of "whiskey infested morons", how offended would I be? Not very, since I place little to no value on her rants. Similarly, Imus' random racially insensitive comments should be seen through that type of lens.

In his defense, Imus has not hid behind anything when pressed to explain his actions. He has taken his lumps, publicly, perhaps to the point of overkill. He will be meeting face-to-face with the Rutgers team to see the faces of those he offended. He has provided numerous mea culpas on his radio show, from which he will begin serving a two week suspension starting next Monday. He even went on Al Sharpton's radio show to discuss the matter, even though the rambunctious Reverend publicly called for Imus' firing.

Here is where things get weird, to me. It's one thing for the targets of the racially insensitive comments to feel outraged, and demand either a retraction or a public apology from the perpatrator. But when media magnets like Sharpton and Jackson thrust themselves into the mix, it becomes a circus. I don't want to throw religion in the face of the two reverends, but didn't Jesus mention something about turning the other cheek? In fact, he said:
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

In other words, let it go, for you are not capable of judging. Forgiveness, remember?

How these two still have even a scintilla of credibility in a case like this is beyond me. Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson? Doesn't anyone remember the entire Tawanna Brawley fiasco, which turned out to be a complete hoax? Sharpton played the lead role in trying to destroy a person's life, yet today sees no repercussions. He has never apologized to Steven Pagones, even now, yet this is the man folks are forced to have represent them when searching for "justice"? The Reverend needs to be reminded what that really means.

I come not to defend what Imus said, nor to explain away his actions as simply part of who he is. It just seems like this guy has fallen on his sword so many times, and will pay a price for what was done. We've had the outrage from all corners of the media, and it is now time to move on. The market will dictate what happens to Imus from here on out - my hunch is that there will be a short term hit to his ad revenue and ratings before things return to normal.

Time for the next big story, folks. Let's move past this one.
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