Imus Fiasco Part 2 (or) So Now What?

Now that the decaying carcas of Don Imus has been tossed on the racist-speech heap next to the graves of Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis, it will be interesting to see who the next target is to join him.  Imus was in a unique position, as he was trying to mix shock jock comedy, while interviewing Washington insiders.  Kind of like second-rate Ali G., but with the guests being in on the joke.  It was a tightrope that Imus wasn’t bright enough to manuever any longer.

Some have stated that Imus should just slide over to Satellite radio.  My guess is this won’t happen, as with the current merger efforts between the 2 companies under review by the FCC, XM and Sirius won’t want to take on anything too radioactive.  (Which makes Imus, radio-inactive. Clever wordplay, huh?) Also, Howard Stern, who is the most important talent in Satellite radio, hates Imus and I’m sure would do everything in his power to keep him from joining either company. 

Imus is basically done, anyway, as his whole schtick was being irreverent with Capitol Hill honchos.  After groveling the past week (rightfully so as it may have been), he has lost any of the "bad boy" attitude that his audience tuned in for.  Plus, now most of his regular guests are as likely to return his call, as they would hit the links with O.J. Simpson. 

I stated in Part 1 that I was never a fan of Imus.  Well, the more I learn about him, the less impressed I am.  My biggest concern about his ouster was the power that Pastors Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were wielding after Imus stuck his cowboy boot in his Polygripped-mouth.  Sharpton has spent his life being on the wrong side of most causes he trumpeted.  Jackson has accomplished some impressive things during his career, but he also has has made as many missteps, including this one that he should answer to.  I have always been vocal about how I don’t want the Bible-thumping Donald Wildmon’s and James Dobson’s dictate what I can and cannot listen to. Well, I feel just as uncomfortable having the left-wing versions of them doing the same, even if their politics are more in tune with mine. 

Listening to Jesse Jackson’s talk show on XM this weekend was a really scary thing.  Jackson’s cronies were trotted out for one big self-congratulatory lovefest.  Good enough, I don’t mind you putting Imus’ cowboy hatted skull on your pitchforks, as he was an a-hole who probably deserved what he got.  I’m more concerned about the talk this group had about this only being the start in getting "hateful" speech off the airwaves. 

My favorite hypocritical statement from the Imus ouster group was presented by Tony Dungy who said that "there is teaching lesson here for all Americans.  We need to move forward to a more civil society." Of course, civil unions aren’t part of a civil society, are they Tony?  Pretty ballsy coming from Coach "I need to butt my nose into the Gay Marriage Debate, as I’m against it" Dungy.  I can’t wait for Bill Belichick to weigh in on the sanctity of marriage next week.


The morning show that is on many of the previous stations Howard Stern used to be on is The Opie and Anthony Show.  Last week was a resurgance for the show, as the whole Imus fiasco brought energy back into the hosts, as they had a cause to fire them up.  Anthony Cumia does a brilliant Don Imus impression, which they used to poke fun at everyone involved in the case.  Both of them believe they are next on the hit list. Considering they do a lot of racial and sexist humor and work for CBS radio, it would seem like they have a good reason to feel like they are the new bulls-eye.

Gangsta rap has been a target of Jackson and Sharpton, as well.  I’m not about to defend it anymore than I would Imus, but having ministers and professors determining what should be released and what shouldn’t is not my idea of what this country is all about.  In this current climate, Barack Obama (with Ludacris) and Hilary Clinton (with Timbaland) meeting with rappers with spotty records creates a problem, considering the statements they have made in inferring Imus’ should be let go.  Oh and don’t get me started on BET founder Robert Johnson condemming Imus.  No one has exploited women more for profit than BET’s late-night video shows.  Here is another Robert Johnson who sold his soul to the Devil, but he didn’t even have to go to the Crossroads to do it. 

The dream scenario for many who have led the march against Imus is the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.  This doctrine would purportedly level the playing field to where Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage. etc. wouldn’t be the only voices you heard on political talk radio.  As much as I think these conservative radio talkshow hosts are distortion machines spouting out half-truths about most everything they discuss, I don’t believe that their voices should be clipped through some Congressional law. 

I was a big fan of Air America radio when it came on the scene and was hopeful it would take off and give a different perspective to the American public.  It hasn’t worked. Left-leaning people just aren’t designed to want to listen to propoganda from their side, as they would rather get a more unbiased view from NPR or better yet, rock out to their Ipods.  I’m not a free-market guy, as I don’t always believe the marketplace is the answer, but in the case of political talk radio, Lberals or Moderates have not shown they have much interest in the format.  I don’t see a lot of "Fairness" in this Doctrine.

If Democrats manage to rid the nation of shock jocks, gansta rappers, and conservative talk hosts, it will be a very short-term win.  Currently the Republican party has little to offer out of their propoganda machine.  If you go too hard at these groups, you are guaranteeing that males under 50, especially white ones, will become an even stronger demographic in voting for the GOP.  Sure the Democrats who push hard on this will have the high moral ground, but in politics this type of ground is very slippery, with a slope that falls fast for its victims.  With the dismal governing the Republicans have done since Bush took office, why give them something that can be a rallying cry to shift the debate from the issues that are most important?

So Good Riddance to Imus.  His time was past.  Those that are joyous of his downfall should be really careful about thinking that the next few targets will be as quick and easy, as the backlash will get stronger when they go after the next groups on their list.

43 thoughts on “Imus Fiasco Part 2 (or) So Now What?

  1. 1.  Good piece…I do disagree with your a few points, however. NPR unbiased? That’s amusing. I think a better reason why conservative talkies dominate the airwaves is because there are many more conservative listeners. While the political landscape may be receding a bit back from the right and toward the middle, I don’t see much of an increase in liberal ideology. Moderates don’t really have the passion about politics (one reason they are moderates) to fuel a middle-ground talk show and there simply aren’t that many hard core liberals to do the same. That leaves politics on talk radio wide open for Conservatives. You may not like the market, but it is very effective in determining what consumers want.

    I also disagree with your portrayal of the political climate in the country. While the Democrats did take over control of both Houses, they needed to win several razor thin elections to gain their slim majority. Considering that the incumbent Republican President was the driving force behind an increasingly unpopular war, I believe the turnover would have been much more dramatic if the country hadn’t previously taken a significant step to the right. I think many Democrats have incorrectly inferred an ideology shift in the results of the last election. Instead, I believe that vote was a backlash against the President and his handling of the war (as well as anger at a handful of corrupt Republican incumbents). If you look at most of the initiatives in the 2006 election, however, most of the outcomes were overwhelming victories for what be the “conservative” side of the issue. Basically, in 2006, the vote was against the Republican party more than it was against a conservative ideology and, by extension, for the Democrats, in my opinion.

    If the Democrats shun the middle ground and return to a liberal bent (by nominating Hilary Clinton, for example), then I think the Republicans will easily hold onto the White House and start making inroads into recapturing the Congress.

  2. 2.  As a Duke alum, I too am eagerly awaiting apology from Jackson, Sharpton, and the Black Panthers I had to avoid on the way to take my finals last spring.

    Unfortunately I can only hold my breath for 40 seconds or so.

    While the recent South Park episode may have it correct that as a white anglo-saxon protestant I “just don’t get it,” it angers me that fellow liberals are unmotivated to do something about a double-standard that hinders free speech. Comedy is, in large part, making fun of other people. Yet if a comic happens to be a white man, those other people are apparently limited to his own kind, while comics of other genders and races have free reign over their slander and generalizations.

    Although apparently you also get free reign if you pretend you’re not white. See: Mencia, Carlos.

  3. 3.  Good stuff, william.

    Not saying NPR doesn’t skew towards the left, but it does feature a lot of voices from the right, unlike conservative talk radio. Liberals are in general less apt to want to feel part of a big group. Organized religion, politics, fraternal orders, etc. are not theiir bag. They don’t drink their party’s kool-aid as quicly as republicans do.

    Free-thinkers are hard to organize.

    The country is pretty much split down the middle. It is when the moderates feel one party is getting too much power that you start to see a swing. Greed has taken down the republicans and I suspect it won’t be much better in 2008 for them, as they have to live with the war they pushed for in Iraq.

    Only secondary issues like this “taking down hate speech” will give the right some momentum to change the subject.

  4. 4.  Liberals have their “group think too” as well as a healthy share of “down the line” constituencies. I wouldn’t exactly describe the liberal base as “free thinkers”, not by any stretch.

    Personally, I don’t think the country is split down the middle. A recent PEW study found the split to be: 39% Conservative; 37% Moderate and 19% liberal. I think that breakdown explains why Republicans often fall over themselves to be labeled conservative, while Democrats seem to shy away from the “L-word”. Of course, not all Democrats are Liberals, which is why Republicans can’t rest on the laurels of the Conservative majority. I agree with you that if the same absence of new ideas and pervasive corruptness continues, Republican will fail to motivate their base and cede even more ground to moderate/conservative Democrats. If, however, the Democrats shift back to the left (which they are doing), I think they will effectively solve the Republicans problems for them.

    As for NPR, they may have a few “conservative voices”, but then again so do many stations with Conservative talkies. WABC in NY, which has Limbaugh and Hannity, also has Ron Kuby, for example. Also, another PEW survey found that that 5 times more journalists classified themselves as liberal than conservative, so the balance you are seeking is much more subtle, which, in the interest of full disclosure, is actually more ideologically “dishonest”.

  5. 5.  I agree that journalists are overwhelmingly liberal in their social views, but this doesn’t keep them from trying to bring down democratic politicians like Bill Clinton. NPR tackles dishonest politicians from the left. Right-wing radio talk show host have been mainly quiet about republican indescretions, as there is a much stronger group think (see unity) than what is seen with Democrats on following the talking points.

    I do agree generally with your stats about liberal vs conservative, though I do think it’s less than 39% at this point, after the continued missteps of Bush and his cronies.

    My goal is to get keep this dialogue focused more on tht topic of who is the next Imus and if/who the readers think should be taken down next.

  6. 6.  Scott, we are on opposite ends of the political divide but a good, well thought out and crafted argument. Both sides are for more regulation of the airwaves when it suits their agenda, which is too bad.
    I’m not sure you taking after Tony Dungy adds to your argument, but hey, you’re free to express it.

  7. 7.  /While the Democrats did take over control of both Houses, they needed to win several razor thin elections to gain their slim majority./


    /Personally, I don’t think the country is split down the middle./

    I am going to try and be as nice as possible with this, but it is flame-bait.

    W won the 2000 election despite having fewer Americans vote for him than his opponent. Call them Dems 2006 victory whatever you want, but it’s no less or more “razor-thin” than Bush’s victory in 2000.

    In the 2000 exit polls, 39% of voters identified themselves as Democrats, 35% identified themselves as Republicans, and 27% identified themselves as Independents.


    Yeah, a lot of people don’t identify themselves as liberals, but I think that has more to do with the Right’s stigmatizing of that word.

    If the country isn’t split down the middle, what’s the evidence, beyond this PEW research poll?

  8. 8.  And, to answer Scott’s question: No one is getting taken down next. There will be no next.

    A lot of people said of the Imus take down that “the market had spoken.” Yes and no. Sponsors thought he was a political hot potato and pulled out. The public at large didn’t make a coordinated effort to stop listening.

    So, I doubt the “next” campaign will unfold in the same way the Imus campaign did. If Sharpton and Jackson call for a “boycott” of Limbaugh, it’s not going to have an effect on his listenership. If they try and make him a pariah like Imus, I think the public will push back harder again the “thought police.”

    Also, I’ve heard a lot of people say this, and I don’t think it true in the slightest– Imus won’t get picked up by satellite because of the XM – Sirius merger. I don’t think he’d get picked up this week, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

    First, the FCC really had nothing to do with the latest Imus fiasco. Second, the merger deals with ownership rules, not content. Third, if one of the companies employed Imus, he’d still be employed whether or not the merger went through.

    What I don’t think you’re going to hear though is the statement, “They employ Don Imus, so we shouldn’t let this merger go through.” I guess you some senator could really start grandstanding about the merger and cause trouble, but you’ve already got Stern and the filthy comedy channel on satellite.

  9. 10.  Nominating Hillary would a be return to a liberal bent for the Democratic Party? Are you sure you follow politics? From her voting record and her campaign rhetoric, Hillary is the least liberal of the three main Democratic hopefuls, while only slightly more liberal than a Bill Richardson. Now I think that nominating Hillary would probably lead to a Republican victory in the presidential election, but that has more to do with her utter lack of charisma and personality than anything else (Of course, my personal favorite candidate for President was Evan Bayh, who makes Hillary look as charismatic as Bill).

  10. 11.  5 Who is the next Imus? I don’t think there will be one…as is often the case, these storms always seem to recede shortly after their immediate impact. The Imus situation was the perfect storm: an old, white shock jock with a history of outrageousness; a racial slur against admirable victims; a corporate entity seemingly anxious to get out of a long-term contract; and two activists with some down-time and face saving to do (considering the pending dismal of the Duke case). Those kinds of storms can be tumultuous, but they don’t come around too often.

    9 Tom…you’ve turned the question into Democrat versus Republican. Scott and I were discussing Conservative versus Liberal. The two comparisons are not synonymous. There are still a lot of old Democrats who keep their party affiliation despite voting more conservative than some fiscal Republicans. I think you are confusing the issue…I also don’t see how my original post was “flame-bait” in any way.

    Not only do surveys place Conservatives at nearly 2x Liberals, but ballot initiatives also trend that way. If you think otherwise, I’d value your insight, but I don’t think we need to get into “flaming”.

    10 That’s exactly the point! Hilary may very well be the least liberal of the three main nominees, but she is well far to the left (even if only in perception) of the voting public. If the Democrats nominated a candidate perceived to be moderate, they’d be in great shape. Instead, it seems as if the liberal base is intent on giving a left-wing candidate yet another shot. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  11. 12.  11. From what I understand, the liberal base hates Hillary with a passion. To me, the perception that she is liberal is one of the biggest lies that conservative talk radio has managed to cram down the throat of this country. If she were not so robotic and uninteresting to listen to, she would probably be able to convince people of that fact. It boggles my mind that someone can be so polarizing, yet so dull at the same time.

  12. 13.  12 I don’t think it’s a conservative talk radio “big lie”, but a fact. Hilary is much more liberal than not only conservative hosts, but also the public in general. Ironically, she also seems to no longer be liberal enough for the base (which, I’m sure, has been by design in order to make her more electable). What has resulted is Hilary is universally despised on the right and also vastly unpopular to many segments of the left and middle. I’m sure Republicans are salivating over her nomination. Not only would it boost their chances at the White House, but probably also energize a conservative base that despises her so, resulting in better turnout for Congressional races that should be as close as they were in 2006.

  13. 14.  Okay, okay, I see what you are saying now, William. Thanks for not escalating the level of discourse.

    I don’t think the words “liberal” and “conservative” have a lot of weight, particularly considering how much they’ve been used by the Right. And, I think “moderate” is a less useful term than either of those two.

    And, the reason for that is that Republicans use the word “conservative” to describe themselves in a way that Democrats do not use “liberal.”

    I don’t know what you can make of ballot initiatives, really. There are a lot of anti-gay marriage initiatives, and no one is ever going to vote for a tax increase. So, I think you’ve got your trending “conservative” right there.

    If you look at he entire pool of candidates, Democrat and Republican, you don’t have a real social conservative out there, and you’ve got two people (Clinton and Obama) who are a direct result of the “had enough of Bush” school of thought. In 2000, I think everyone would have been shocked if you told them that the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination would be a woman and a black man.

    I won’t break down the GOP list, but when Fred Thompson looks like a good choice, I don’t think you have a deep conservative field.

  14. 15.  13. While to the left of the hosts, her voting record is squarely in the middle in terms of all of the Senate, which has not been a particularly liberal body during her tenure, and compared to the public in general, especially when you consider the fact that she is to the right on many issues to two of the three leading Republican candidates for the presidency.
    You are again swallowing the line that she is a liberal. Show me what she has done during her Senate term that shows that she is substantially to the left of the American public.

  15. 16.  Not that Scott meant it this way, but I always think it’s funny when liberals piss and moan that conservatives own that backwater of media, gasp!, AM radio!

    Air America failed for many reasons, but the primary reason is that there is a glut of liberal voices in media already. Air America is about as useful as a third thumb.

  16. 17.  14 You wouldn’t consider Fred Thompson “conservative”? He is actually viewed very favorably by conservatives, so I am not sure where you are coming from. From Thompson to Gingrich to Romney to McCain and Guiliani, I actually think the Republicans have a varied choice across the spectrum (something missing on the Democrat side). I also think a few more “conservative” candidates will emerge before all is said and done.

    15 In 2005 (based on votes in accordance with an ACU defined conservative agenda), the American Conservative Union gave Hilary Clinton a 12% rating (she was 0% in 2004). By comparison, John McCain scored 80% in 2005. In 2002, Fred Thompson scored an 89.

    Also, here is a listing on Clinton’s voting record with regard to different interest groups. If you look at it carefully, you’ll see she votes often with liberal groups and seldom with conservative ones:

    That’s some evidence in support of my argument. Where’s your evidence to suggest that Hilary is not as liberal as conservative talk radio is making her out to be? Or, have you started to drink the liberal “right wing conspiracy” kool-aid?

    16 That was my point in stating that the “mainstream” media is very much slanted left. The advent of talk radio (and FOX) was in large part the result of this perceived bias. There’s no need to listen to Air America when you can just watch CNN.

  17. 18.  There has never been a natioanl liberal talk show that has had as big of a listening audience than the top 10 right wing talk shows.

    You can’t tell me that even on the most liberal show on npr, the tavis smiley show, that he is anywhere as strident as limbaugh, hannity, o’reilly, savage, ingrahm, glenn beck, michael reagan, muchael medved, etc.

    I don’t begrudge them for doing these shows, as the right-wing supports this kind of talk. Democrats like their talking points distributed in more of a roundtable discussion form.

    I’m not trying to say who has the better method, just posing the differences. Now that conservatives have their own news channel, Fox, I am surprised that they don’t go for a more discussion style show.

    I don’t trust any show that just gives just one viewpoint.

    Sorry, but I guess this piece has evolved into a talk radio thread.

  18. 19.  My argument comes from the National Journal ratings (which are generally considered the most impartial of where one ranks from the liberal to conservative spectrum), that put Hillary’s Senate votes at the 70% percentile of the Senate in terms of voting on liberal issues, and put McCain at 50%, squarely in the middle, and since he was the one of the top three candidates that I put as more conservative than Hillary that makes sense. When looking at social and military issues, the ones in which Hillary is the most vilified, she actually ranks in the 50% percentile of the Senate, right in the middle. This of course makes her even less appealing to me, given that the only reason I no longer am registered as a Republican is entirely based on social issues.

  19. 20.  Oh and let me mention that I am one of the voices on the “filthy” comedy channel.

    Another point. Sam brownback is definitely right-wing. Edwards had a fairly moderate senate voting record, but has moved to the left.

  20. 21.  My point about Fred Thompson isn’t that he’s not a conservative. . . it’s that he’s not anyone. He’s basically been drafted because Rudy, Mitt and McCain are one big mess. Was anyone talking about Fred Thompson last year?

    I have no doubt that conservatives feel the media is biased against them. But, in the past few months, reality has been biased against them too. You’ve got Ted Haggard, Gonzo-gate, Mark Foley, David Kuo, Newt Gingrich admitting to cheating on his wife while he was going after President Clinton, etc.

    There’s no way to cover these stories evenly. Or, put another way, if you’re on the Right, and you want to say Limbaugh, Fox, etc. are “equal time,” you’re going to be able to find a problem with the mainstream media’s coverage of these issues.

    I don’t see going after NPR though. It’s more boring than it is biased, and I like NPR. Then again, those guys on Car Talk are from Mass., and probably voted for Kerry more than once.

  21. 22.  I don’t have satellite radio. The guy at work called it the “filthy comedy channel.” I’m guessing that’s not what it’s called? But, but, it sounded so appealing.

  22. 23.  Re: #2. Fine, I’ll toss the gauntlet. Why does it not make sense to anyone that a decade or so years of “nigger” or honky/white jokes and the admittedly unfunny Mencia makes the endless and piercingly shrill whining about said topic from white people truly pathetic, comparitively? Try 250 or so years of actual rape, beatings, lynchings and discrimination before I have a sympathetic ear to how awful the treatment you’re facing EVERY SINGLE AWFUL DAY OF YOUR LIVES is. Maybe your troubles will get listened to just as fast. Let’s see, a hundred years of lynching after the Emancipation Proclamation? So you’re going to have to hear bad jokes and stupid words for 90 more years, which – according to the reverse discrimination you’re all describing – is equal to having your eyes shoot out of your head and pissing yourself and you’re beaten with sticks, I guess.

    Yes, I am an angry liberal. I even swear.

  23. 24.  18 I don’t think there will be a ‘next Imus’. Events drive the news and there is always a B-story like Anna Nicole or the Imus firing or poison pet food to fill endless hours of cable TV airtime during slow news cycles. There are some real events now that will muffle this entire debate, the shootings in Virginia today, the Iraq War funding debate, the Alberto Gonzales hearings, and the Iraq War itself. The Imus debate and the secondary debate over rappers and culture that was somehow generated is just going to go away.

    As for Talk Radio and politics I think a fascinating subplot of the whole Fred Thompson thing is ‘what is a better job – President or replacing Paul Harvey?’. Fred Thompson is already the guest host for the 87 year old Paul Harvey, who broadcasts less than 30 minutes a day and makes $10 million dollars a year. I don’t think Thompson can pass up that gig.

  24. 25.  19 Accepting your National Journal ratings still leaves Hilary significantly to the left, so I am not sure why you object to her being classified as a liberal (except for the fact that she may not be liberal enough for you). According to NJ, Clinton is more liberal than 70.2% of the Senate. That’s pretty significant.

    23 While your at it, you might as well rant about slavery going all the way back to the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. The atrocities of those eras can probably be allocated to a wide range of ancestries and ethnicities. Before you know it, we’ll all have the moral justification to denigrate each other based on the injustices and horrors of our ancestors. Sounds like a real logical and sensible position to take (that’s sarcasm by the way).

  25. 26.  One more about Imus? Why not. This forum has been better than anything I’ve read.

    I think the people who object to what happened to Imus largely object to those people making the complaints–Jackson, Sharpton, et. al., or the fact that complaining is even occuring (“we’ve got better things to do!”).

    williamnyy23, you’d agree, would you not, that with regard to racism, we don’t have to go back all that far. This is a country that colonized itself, denied a group of people constitutional rights all the way up to the 1960’s… and by the by, who the hell is talking about moral justification for denigration? I might’ve missed that upthread (recognizing you were being sarcastic). There is plenty of moral ground for blacks to be at least suspicious of whites and we don’t have to go that far back in time to see why–certainly not to the time of Romans, Egyptians and Greeks.

    Also, you hinted that the media was liberal? I got that gist from the first post so forgive me if I’m wrong but that’s what I’m inferring. If so… another conversation for another time, I guess. I mean, outside of Fox News, the WSJ editorial page, the Washington Post editorial page of recent years, almost all of talk radio and nearly every pundit, I could see how conservatives might feel slighted (that’s sarcasm by the way).

    I don’t mean to sound snide but from your moniker, I gather you’re a Yankee or Met fan. The former, of course, deserves nothing but scorn from those of us jealous of success. The latter? Well, I’m a Dodger fan, see…

  26. 27.  william’s sense of Hillary being liberal interests me because it strikes me as evidence for a theory: I am of the opinion, expressed in several places online already I’m sure, that Hillary is a TERRIBLE candidate for Democrats because she’s a centerist who’s perceived as a liberal; we want to run a liberal who’s perceived as a centerist. (I agree with everyone here who sees Hillary as the most centerist candidate–the most hawkish, for example). And I think she’s perceived as a liberal simply because of associations with her husband and years and years of right wing hate-robot attack. As for this whole grotesque dancing around the word “liberal” that characterizes American politics in this era, I think it’s fundamentally misleading–Americans dislike “liberalism”, those who do, because people have been pushing culture-war buttons for years. When you poll Americans about their policy positions, they consistently, over a long time, poll majority liberal on social and economic issues–it’s the LABEL they’ve been trained to shun, and it make take another generation to break that training….

    finally, a word or two for William and mehmattski: you seem like reasonable guys–why can’t you accept history, and stop taking shit so personally? meh–you had to avoid Black Panthers–did the scary black men make you wet your pants? Racism is not an equal opportunity crime: racism, as a significant historical force in this country, as a fundamental part of how society has been organized, has worked in favor of white folks and against those of color. It’s about systematic power. THAT”S SIMPLY A FACT. To deny it is childish. To constantly go looking for examples of black folks, Latinos, whoever, who are racist is childish. Nobody is saying two wrongs make a right. The point is white people owned black people in this country–the other way around, not so much. The point is history and its wounds, not your own personal selfish desire not to feel like a bad guy. I’m a white guy myself. I don’t think Al Sharpton’s any kind of saint–but so fucking what?

  27. 28.  25: Nice try, but no. With that sort of offhanded dismissal of very recent history, it still just goes right over your head why people might still be upset about it, doesn’t it? You just proved the point better than I ever could. Racism? Pffffft! Ancient history.

    Let’s see – does anyone you know or whom is still alive ever see a lynching or the atrocities of ancient Rome? You’re going to compare something that happened during our father’s generation (a generalization, I realize, it will vary) to something that happened 2 millenia ago. Things that millions of people still alive witnessed. Makes perfect sense. And yeah, THAT’s sarcasm.

    And no, it’s not a justification to denigrate anyone. More whining, as usual.

    It’s the idea that if you actually pay attention, you can see, can COMPREHEND why a large population might still be a little upset. How they have been just slightly affected by events that have recently occurred.

    But no, explain to, oh, say, James Byrd’s family about how the tragedies of ancient Rome apply to their situation. About why they shouldn’t be pissed at or afraid of white people. After all, reverse racism is just as bad. That kid at Duke who posted above had to walk farther than usual and got yelled at, for god’s sake! For like, 10 whole days. In the future, he and Jackiue Robinson’s trials should be mentioned in the same breath.

    Yes, those still affected should just get over it. Like the Sumerians have after all this time.

  28. 29.  26 I didn’t hint that the media was liberal…I referenced a PEW survey in which media members identified themselves as 5x more likely to be liberal than conservative. The outlets you mentioned do slant conservative, but I think it is pretty much a given that the media in general tilts left. As long as that bias is known, I don’t have a problem with it. Similarly, I don’t have a problem with Limbaugh because he is clearly biased toward the right. Where I’d have a concern is in places where political bias is subtly influencing news coverage. For all the angst over talk radio, at least none of the talkies are trying to hide their true feelings (FOX being fair and balanced, I’ll grant you, is another story].

    26 27 I was using absurdity to prove a point, but my premise is still valid. Past wrongs do not justify present day ones. By extension, the human race could play that game to oblivion. Other than that, I am not sure where I’ve implied that I take anything personally. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Black Americans (and any American for that matter) have the right to be suspicious of anyone they want. What I don’t think people have the right to do is treat others disrespectfully based on their race. I simply don’t buy the notion that racism is only wrong when it comes from white people.

    Also, taking your point further…is a black man in America justified of mistrusting a white immigrant who just entered the country yesterday? What about my grandfather who made his way to the United States in the 1920s? Is there a cut off, or does that mistrust extend to all white people? Again, I’m being absurd, but I think if does show the danger of that argument. Is mistrust wrong? No. Is justifying that mistrust as a reason to discriminate (in actions or in speech) wrong? I think it is.

    27 I agree that the LIBERAL label has been stigmatized, but disagree with your notion that most Americans are liberal in practice. I simply don’t think that is true. If I had some time, I’d do a search for some reputable survey data, but for now we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    28 No…I don’t know anyone who witnessed an atrocity of ancient Rome. Unfortunately, however, my cousin was shot point blank on a LIRR train by Colin Ferguson. For those unfamiliar with him, he boarded a train in Long Island with the express intent to kill white people. Thankfully, my cousin survived, but his friend did not. Does that mean I, or anyone in my family, should feel free denigrate black people because someone in my family was the victim of racially motivated violence? Of course not. Personally, I think it would even be wrong for me to have an innate mistrust. Using your logic, however, having personal experience with racism gives you a free pass to inflict it on others. Suffering Bruin’s point about mistrust is valid; your justification for hate filled speech is simply ignorant.

  29. 30.  29 williamnyy23 – I think you keep getting challenged on your views of historial racism because you’re not acknowledging the very real PRESENT racism that effects minorities. Large corporations like Fleet Bank and Citigroup have been found to discriminate in determining loans and/or pursue predatory lending practices that harm mostly minority customers in THIS decade, not the 1920s.

    That’s not history for a black family with the same job, same credit, and same hopes as the white family down the street but who pays thousands of dollars more in mortgage payments, money that could be used for college education or training or health care that would allow their children to live in a truly equal world.

  30. 31.  30 So, let me get this straight…are you saying that because racism exists and impacts minority groups more (it would have to considering the demographics), then those groups should have the freedom to practice racism at will? If you are not saying that, we are not disagreeing.

    I’m sorry, but in my opinion, racism is just plain WRONG. Failure to condemn all forms of racial discrimination tacitly condones them all.

  31. 32.  Hey William, thanks for your thoughtful posts and responses. I tried to respond, but 1) thought it would go unheard, 2) I felt like I was lending credence to those “arguments” and 3) started getting really angry.

    For anyone, black panthers or the KKK to harass someone on their way to an institution of learning because of the color of their skin is flat out racist. It’s akin to thinking that because racism ruled the day for so long in this country that every citizen condoned it. That is simply not true. Likewise, we can spout here all day about a real issue, but we’d be equally misguided if we thought racism did not exist. And also if we assumed that racism could only be practiced by those with white skin.

  32. 33.  31 I didn’t say anything about reverse discrimination in my post by choice. It wasn’t an accident because I don’t feel obligated to have every point I make encompass a universe of arguments on every subject. I happen to think the Imus fiasco is about…Imus.

    I honestly don’t understand why the Imus situation somehow devolved into a conversation about Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, rap music, and the Duke lacrosse case. None of the above have anything to do with how Imus behaves. It’s all about clouding the waters and not addressing the true central issue – that Imus has been making similar comments for a decade and the same comments caused zero stir with the very people who now reporting on the so-called outrage.

    PBS anchor Gwen Ifil hasn’t ever been on the Imus show for a reason and Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page got Imus to pledge to stop the crude racial humor in 2000, a pledge Imus quickly ignored. Why do the past comments of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton somehow force our entire society to deal with ALL bigoted comments ever made, by everyone, all at once? Why can’t people look at respected black professionals like Ifil and Page and say ‘maybe there is something to this’ instead of balancing Imus’s comments with every stupid thing a black person ever said and asking for equal treatment.

    Bigoted comments from black and white people aren’t to be weighed against each other on opposite sides of a scale. Bigoted comments from anyone all go on the same side of the scale and weigh against equality each and every time they are made. Imus’s ‘nappy headed hos’ and Jackson’s ‘hymietown’ are similar comments. But Jackson paid for that remark with at least some of his credibility. Why does Jackson have to pay again today?

    If you don’t think Al Sharpton is a credible spokesman on this issue you still can’t make him disappear. You can ask cable TV news outlets book any one of a thousand less controversial black voices but TV networks don’t WANT to do that. Do you think the minorities that appear on FOX News as guests are a representive sample of black opinion or designed to act as foils for the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly? That’s what Sharpton is to a lesser extent for CNN and MSNBC. The networks want to stir the pot to get ratings, not make any headway on a real racial debate in America circa 2007.

    Are Sharpton and Jackson running a race hustle or civil rights leaders? The truth is somewhere in between. But writers like Jason Whitlock are not pure of heart when they write about needing new leaders. Whitlock likes attention as well and that attention makes Whitlock a more popular and therefore more highly compensated writer. Did you know Whitlock produced a rap song about the Kansas City Chiefs that was performed by a group of artists that used the very language that Whitlock railed against in his column?

    It’s very easy to bring in a million tangents and argue past each other and fail to address the central point – why was Imus on major media with his tired act and why were major media personalities and politicians appearing on Imus for years and looking the other way.

    I’d like to see Scott do a post ‘Please Explain: Al Sharpton’ and we can address that topic on it’s own but to always bring in other the wrongs of others when trying to address the individual case of Imus’s comments smacks of obfuscation, not dialogue.

    Sharpton has many flaws but that doesn’t make him wrong about Imus. Broken clocks are right twice a day. Ifil and Page aren’t broken clocks, they are respected media peers of Imus and they tired of his act long ago. But we’re obsessing about Sharpton, not Ifil and page. Why?

  33. 34.  33
    Which would you rather have some old media ‘celebrity’ calling you names or a DA prosecuting you with systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion in a racially charged atmosphere?

    The mind boggles that you don’t grasp the connection and why it’s important.

  34. 35.  34 The system worked in the Duke rape case.

    The case was never brought to trial. Indictments were issued on the District Attorney’s discretion and the case fell apart upon tighter scrutiny. DA Nifong is facing ethics charges, a ruling from his peers in the North Carolina Bar. The Duke players who were accused have recourse to civil courts if they choose to pursue some kind of redress. The accuser was subject to prosecution for filing a false statement by NC Attorney General but he choose not to do so. Here’s the NC AG in his own words.

    “Q: I mean, the justice system in North Carolina. How concerned are you that it will have a negative impact to the justice system?

    COOPER: I’ll tell you about this. Any state in the country, including the federal government, can have a rogue prosecutor who goes on out on his own and does thing continues. Here in North Carolina we have solved the problem, we’ve corrected the problem. […]

    Q: …secondly, has she ever told the same story twice?

    COOPER: Well, in answer to your second question, she’s told many stories. Some things are consistent within those stories, but there were many stories that were told. […]

    Q: Do you believe the accuser lied in this case? And will there be any criminal charges against her?

    COOPER: Well, we have considered that. Our investigators who talked with her and the attorneys who talked with her over a period of time think that she may actually believe the many different stories that she has been telling.

    And in reviewing the whole history, there are records under seal that I’m not going to talk about, but we believe it’s in the best interest of justice not to bring charges, and we have made that decision, as well.”

    That’s not Nifong making that determination, it’s the North Carolina Attorney General. So what’s the injustice? That a few people were wrongly accused of a crime? That happens hundreds of times a year in this country, if not thousands. I’m sorry it happened to the accused kids at Duke. It’s not a particularly unique case and and the facts are more of a man-bites-dog story. It’s far, far more common for actual rapes to go unprosecuted than false charges to be brought where there is no rape.

    What does any of the above have to do with Don Imus? Is it both the Rutgers basketball team and Duke lacrosse team go to college? I wrote 9 paragraphs above and didn’t mention Rutgers. Because the Rutgers comment was one of a slew of remarkes over more than a decade that should have never been endorsed by NBC, CBS, and Imus’s powerful guests.

  35. 36.  Really enjoying the thread. I’m without laptop, so I have to use hotel computer, so can’t keep up in real time.

    William- this thread has you playing the role of conservative on Real Time with Bill Maher. I have been ripped by conservatives and liberals, democrats and republicans here for my differing political stands. If I’m correct or not on a subject, if I get both sides at different times piling on me, I figure I must be on a good track.

    Thank you everyone who has been participating around here. If you haven’t gained some new insight on the issues of censorship and race from the site the past week, you lack comprehension.

  36. 37.  Sharpton is a major figure in the Imus saga, as he is a media spokesman. Joe3 is right that the media gives him much of validity. As long as he is the face of the opposition, many people who don’t like Imus’ behavior will still cut him slack, as they remember all of Sharpton’s indescretions.

    Actually, the idea of having a national spokesman for a particular race is something I find racist in it’s own way. We are far past the days of Jim Crow.

    I heard Gwen Ifil’s comments on meet the press. I have a lot of respect for her and finding out about Imus past comments about her just further demonstrated Imus’ lame attempts at comedy. Despite how much I didn’t like his comments, she is a public figure and shouldn’t have gotten in the biz if she can’t take some shots.

    The Rutgers women were not on the same level of being a public figure and the nappy headed ho comment was a racist attack which also was a slur to their personal behavior.

    My concern with Ifil’s inferences were about her believing that racial and sexist comedy has no place on the air. (i’m paraphrasing)

    Most academics and high-minded journalists have a general disdain for this type of low-brow humor. Cool, you might be more evolved people for it. Humor and satire have many different levels and my recommendation is if you don’t like it, step away from it.

    Imus was a special case, as he had major political figures as guests on his show. A recipe for disaster that amazingly he was able to tightrope on for too long.

    My great concern was the political correct types to push this past just Imus and go after other shock humor. I’m not imagining this, as the most outspoken on the Imus fiasco have said he was just the start.

    As someone who loves Friars club roast type material, I feel the need to stand up and shout that censoring humor on a comedic radio show is a scary notion. I don’t like the idea of Sharpton and Jackson bullying sponsors into taking their ads off of Opie and Anthony and other type, pure comedy talk shows.

  37. 38.  JoeJoeJoe,

    “The system worked in the Duke rape case”.

    It primarily worked because the Dukie kids had the $$$ to get some decent defense representation that enabled them to beat the trumped up charges.

    Why were Sharpton and Jackson even involved in the first place??

    Oh yeah, the ‘victim’ was black.

    Many of the causes they back need their muscle and influence. They have a role to play in Black America. They have a history of defending the defenseless and helping the hopeless, but they also jump into situations that as they play out diminish their credibility and reduce their effectiveness in other cases that need their aid.

    Clearly they were on the wrong side of the Duke case from the start, especially considering that their self-declared constituancy is much more likely to find itself in the role of the lacrosse players (facing trumped up charges)—only they can’t afford a decent attorney and they land in jail.

    “What does any of the above have to do with Don Imus?”

    Do you really not get it??

    I don’t care that Imus got fired—he’s clearly an idiot. But why now and why him?? So many others seem to have gotten a free pass on the issue; it’s kind of like driving down the interstate and getting passed by a dozen cars, but the trooper pulls you over for doing 73—were you wrong? Yeah, but what about the dozen other guys going 80?? The issue at hand is fairness and varying degrees of accountability that seem to be calibrated to the color of one’s skin.

    To better expain this, did anyone see Rachel Robinson on ESPN’s MLB game on Sunday?? At one point she states that MLB should try to increase Black participation in baseball because that, “People like to watch their own.”

    Could you imagine the uproar if Jon Miller suggested that he only liked watching the white dudes??

    I don’t happen to think that Mrs. Robinson meant anything by the comment (a few more black stars might spur some interest in MLB from certain demographic groups), but she is free to speak her mind, others aren’t.

    Imus was free to speak his mind and he paid a price, the issue on the plate on this board is that some people don’t ever seem to pay the publicly accepted price for their comments.

  38. 39.  I refuse to let Chris’ last comment become a thread-killer, as it was one of my favorite in a long time. Great stuff.

  39. 40.  38 Your post balances the comments of Imus against Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Rachel Robinson. Let’s break that down.

    Imus – radio host employed by MSNBC, CBS Radio, noted for his fundraising for autism, veterans, and The Imus Ranch for children, regular guests include NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert, Senior editor of Newsweek Jonathan Alter, NYT columnists Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman, CNN Senior Political Analyst Jeff Greenfield, Senators John Kerry, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Mayor Giuliani

    Sharpton – frequent media guest, President, National Action Network, radio host in 20 markets, regular commentator of The Tom Joyner Show, vocal supporter of 15-year old Tawana Brawley in 1987, a girl who claimed to have been raped and abducted but was later found to have lied about the incident. Sharpton was found guilty of defamation of character for remarks he made regarding prosecutor Steven Pagones during he Brawley investigation and ordered to pay $345,000, Sharpton has never apologized for the incident

    Jackson – frequent media guest, appointed leader of Southern Christian Leadership Council’s efforts in Chicago by Martin Luther King Jr, civil rights leader Operation Push, Rainbow Coalition, two-time Democratic Presidential Candidate (winning Michigan primary in ’88), secured release of US Navy pilot shot down in Syria in 1983, made serveral anti-semitic remarks over the years, the most infamous calling NYC ‘Hymietown’ in 1984, involved in several questionable finacial transactions over his career, advocate for minority inclusion in business, often accused of ‘shaking down’ same businesses for funds

    Rachel Robinson – widow of baseball great Jackie Robinson, founder of Jackie Robinson Foundation which provides scholarships, nurse, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Yale School of Nursing

    I’m leaving aside Rachel Robinson’s comments because I think she made an awkward comment that was more about mentoring young black children into the game of baseball than race. I usually cut 85 year old women a fair bit of slack. I did back in college when I visited my college roomate’s great grandmother in rural Iowa and she asked what it was like to live with all the ‘coloreds’ in Chicago (she had only seen one or two in her whole life) and I’ll do it now with Rachel Robinson.

    Al Sharpton made his Tawana Brawley remarks in ’87 and ’88. He paid part of a $345,000 fine as part of his conviction for defamation of character. He says he’s not sorry. What more ‘publicly accepted price’ is Sharpton supposed to pay? It’s not as though his involvement in the Brawley case (or other controversial cases) has been forgotten.

    Jesse Jackson made his ‘Hymietown’ remark in 1984 – 23 years ago. What additional ‘publicly accepted price’ should he be made to pay? He’s got freedome of speech and freedom of assembly like the rest of us. Do you not want him to be on TV?

    Imus has been making the coarsest racial and sexist jokes on the air for two decades and the ‘publicly accepted price’ he paid was to get a salary of $10 million a year and the world’s most powerful people on his show. Fourteen years ago he called Gwen Ifil ‘the cleaning lady’. Nine years ago Imus was on 60 Minutes and told the CBS producer Bernard McGuirk was on the show to do nigger jokes. In May of this year Imus referred to ‘Bill Clinton and his fat ugly wife Satan’.

    So I’m supposed to believe that Sharpton and Jackson are supposed to pay MORE of a public price for their past mistakes and language? The ‘Hymietown’ comment was 23 years ago. Sharpton’s defamation of character conviction and fine arose from remarks made 19 years ago. The history of both men is brought up by a significant fraction of the population everytime they appear in the media. But still, they are the ones who have not paid a price?

    I’m opposed to censorship but the Imus fiasco is about sponsorship, not censorship. But radio broadcasting is a job, not free speech. Working for someone else involves following some parameters for conduct. If you can’t live with that, be self-employed. But you don’t make $10 million dollars a year as a self employed DJ. Imus had it both ways for a long time but nothing lasts forever. The stink of Imus’s humor was getting on NBC News, CBS corporate, and the pols that appear on his show so he had to go.

    Nine years ago Imus admitted to 60 Minutes he has a guy on the payroll to make nigger jokes. He’s made about $90 million dollars since that revelation. I’m not going to cry about the price Imus paid.

  40. 41.  No tears here for Imus. Repeat, Imus=stupid.

    I think I was giving Rachel Robinson a break, I agree with your entire statement about her. Ancient Jimmy the Greek and not-quite-as-old-but-still-pretty-old Al Campanis didn’t get the same consideration.

    My beef with Jackson and Sharpton is that they basically are continually asking the world to ‘do as I say”, not “as I do”.

    Why did they run to the support of the ‘victim’ in the Duke lacrosse case? Was it because they examined the merits of the case and decided that this poor girl wouldn’t get a fair shake against the wealth of the alleged perpetrators, or was it simply because the lacrosse players were white and by definition guilty? They consistantly make decisions upon where to apply their political pressure based upon the color of people’s skin—is that not racist??

    Should they not at least be required to explain themselves for their efforts to railroad the lacrosse players in North Carolina last year, or did the Idiot Imus provide them another opportunity to be outraged at the exact time they should have expressing a little contrition?

    I have often supported Sharpton and Jackson in the past and I’m sure I will again—there aren’t many people out there who are actively advocating for the victims of the far right’s “War on the Weak”. It simply is getting harder for them to effectively fill this need when they enjoy a double standard in which their questionable actions and statements don’t have real repercussions.

    Just as Imus’s earlier crudities didn’t come with a price that he had to pay, Jackson has never really been hindered in a meaningful way by his racial statements—perhaps like Imus, the bill just hasn’t been presented yet.

  41. 42.  81 All good points Chris.

    I guess what I’m missing is why Sharpton and Jackson are always picked by the media to speak in the first place. It was Imus himself that picked the Sharpton radio show to plead his case. Imus could have just said ‘No, thank you’ to the invitation and said he was going to hold off on doing any speaking on the subject until he could meet with the coach and players of the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Sharpton had no more or less vocal role in this affair than the National Organization for Women or National Association of Black Journalists until Imus gave him a larger role by appearing on Sharton’s show.

    Why do the most controversial black leaders always get singled out when there is some kind of debate about race? For all of Al Sharpton’s flaws (and there are many) he was proven correct when the conviction of five young black teens in the Central Park Jogger rape case was overturned. Those five teens served 40 years before the City of New York revealed their confessions had been coerced by the police and the teens basically framed for the case. Those 5 kids are glad Sharpton is around and could not be so choosy about who they wanted in the world to defend their innocence. Unlike the Duke lacrosse case, the system did not work for them. They did 8 years for a crime they did not commit.

    As for the press and society at large, there is one black Governor, a black Senator, about 40 black US Representitives, a black Secretary of State, a black Supreme Court justice, Oprah, Bill Cosby (who also initially supported Tawana Brawley) and scores of prominent black business leaders, professionals and community organizers. I just question why from that huge group Sharpton and Jackson keep getting identified as ‘the leaders’ by the media and society as a whole.

  42. 43.  42 “I guess what I’m missing is why Sharpton and Jackson are always picked by the media to speak in the first place.”

    -My guess is that the people you mention at the end of your comment have jobs and are frequently busy, whereas Jesse and Al’s jobs are to speak to the media about these issues.

    Jesse and Al are each kind of like the Dr. Ruth of racial matters, when a quick 30 second to five minute piece is needed—the call goes out for Jesse and Al. The real question is whether or not there is some sort of ‘Bat Signal’ that the networks use to get Jesse and Al to come running on cue…I’m sure that there is a controversial joke in there somewhere that I’ll leave to the professionals.

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