Friday, April 13, 2007

Why Imus Matters...

I am going to take a slightly contrarian view from many out here in West Blogovia right now, and say that the Don Imus firing is an important story that has been worthy of coverage.

Note that I say "worthy of coverage" not "worth the coverage it's getting..." The coverage itself has been a mish-mash of half-assed celebrity reporting mixed with the pious chest beating of those who are in fact just a heartbeat away from being Imus themselves. Nevertheless, this is an important story and it needs to be addressed.

Let's just be right up front... Don Imus is, was and probably always will be a misogynist, racist a-hole. There, I said it. This is not the first time he has popped off on the mic, and been called for it. (...anyone remember when he called the WaPo's Howard Kurtz "that beanie-wearing Jew-Boy?")

And let me dispense with a couple of the current right wing memes making the rounds of the echo-chamber, most notably:
"What about Imus' freedom of speech. I guess liberals don't believe in that."
Attention morons! Don Imus has the same ability to speak his mind as anyone else. What he does not have a right to is a. make a living from being two-bit hack, and b. to be free from criticism for being a two-bit hack.

But the bigger lie right now is:
"well, they talk like that in rap songs, and no one complains about that, or fires them...they're just being hypocrites."
That is incorrect. People do complain about, and primarily highly visible figures in the African-American community, such as Bill Cosby and Sen. Barak Obama.

But let's pretend for a moment that this particular talking point is not complete horseshit. Let's say that the all African-Americans look the other way... are we saying "well, I guess it's okay for Imus to do it then." That is lame with a lameness.

That's still not the point though, and it brings me to the subject of why this matters. Don Imus is (or was, rather) part of the cannon of American political broadcast discourse. And I am not sure why he was. He's always been Howard Stern's retarded kid brother, yet policy makers and luminaries line up to be on his show, I guess so they can reach a national audience. Like him or not, disagree with him or not, he was part of the national discourse. And he has abused that position again, and again, and again.

Imus, and others like him, are part of the reason the public discourse has been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator in this country. It's to the point where our national Algonquin Round Table is now made up of those who just don't shit themselves in public.

Al Sharpton promising to protest in front CBS I believe had less to do with the decision to toss Imus under the bus than the fact that advertisers were threatening to pull serious ad revenue and some folks at CBS finally seemed to evolve a moral compass that at least points towards some sort of enlightened self interest.

And this is the important part. Hopefully this signals a change in the broadcast industry that they are losing their tolerence for hate-filled spewage from the likes of Don Imus (or the Big Oxy, or Michael Weiner, or Don Levin, or Glenn Beck, or any of the rest of the right-wing drooler brigade).

This should be our cue (I'm looking at you Spocko!) to renew efforts to pressure broadcasters and advertisers that the listening public is fed up with this. I, for one, am pleased with the amount of play the Imus story is getting. For a long time, guys like Imus have been thought about in broadcasting as "untouchable;" that as long as they raked in the phat stax of mad-ad-bank they would be allowed latitude.

Afterall, the entire genre of so-called "Shock Radio" is based the premise that you can suck up the criticism and write the occasional check to the FCC, because people will tune-in just to hear what happens next.

And as long as it was confined to goofballs like Howard Stern, or Mark and Brian, frankly, I didn't care. But when broadcasters started to adopt that paradigm as a way to promote our national socio-political discussion, then at that point they are hurting the country and betraying the public trust on which their broadcast license is based.

With any luck... those days are ending...

mojo sends

No comments: