There’s a line out there in broadcasting, a fine line sometimes, between what is acceptable language and what constitutes offensive and inappropriate material. Don Imus clearly crossed that line at 100mph, not stopping until he successfully offended the ethnic, gender and socio-economic aspects of a talented women’s basketball team – calling the Rutgers’ women “nappy-headed hos.” About the only thing you can say about the remark is that he didn’t leave anything out.
I’ve worked in radio for the last 14 years. I’ve seen and heard a lot of offensive material. And I’ve witnessed numerous broadcasters who’ve lost their jobs because of idiotic things that blurted out of their mouths. Doug “Greaseman” Tract, Michael Savage and Opie and Anthony come to mind as we have all seen their stories recounted in the media in recent days.
NBC pulled Imus’ simulcast off MSNBC – a move likely dictated by the advertisers who wasted no time in pulling their support. We’ll see what CBS Radio chooses to do.
I’ve listened to the Rap music argument that much worse is said in lyrics there, but I don’t much buy it because I’m not subjected to Rap music unless I go searching for it – which I don’t. But if I did, I am well aware of what I am getting. Doesn’t make it right – I’m no fan of Rap music. But it is what it is. (And for no consolation, rapper Snoop Dogg is calling for him to be kicked off the air!)
Imus’ show is where we get to hear (when I bother to listen in the first place) John McCain playing chummy pal to Don, Chris Dodd announcing his candidacy or David Gregory lamenting his ego on long-distance Presidential trips. It is not where I go to hear young people denigrated for their accomplishments in light of their race, sex or class background.
On a personal note, I take umbrage to Imus’ argument that he’s an entertainer and not a political program. As someone who has tried to produce some of the best political radio in an entertaining manner (Oliver North Radio Show; Tony Snow Radio Show), Imus knows that he has – or had at one point – a place where every politician in Washington sought to appear.
Today, Imus apparently bashed former Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee saying, “Harold Ford, Jr. has been disgraceful in his lack of support. I endured death threats to endorse him… It’s unfortunate he has no courage.”
Threats from whom? Racist fans of the show?! That statement is ridiculous.
But I’m not going sit here and rally the call for his firing. That’s CBS’ decision to make. And hopefully, more of the distinguished guests like Harold Ford, Jr. will choose to bypass the show in the future if it is to continue.
In the end, it is a sad day for broadcasting history and my heart goes out to the women of the Rutgers basketball team.
And let me take the opportunity to say what Don Imus should have said: Congratulations and job well done on a fantastic season!