Oh dear! Don Imus is gone –for now.
The “Gutless Lying Weasels’ have struck back with gutless lying ferocity. The responsibility has been passed on to faceless shareholders, to shameless posturers, to silent ex-friends of Imus, to the offended ones.
(Which incidentally raises a Santa Dilemma for Corporate America: will it now fire the bearded bellringer’s ass for all his erstwile HO-HO-HOs. Call Donald Trump. And what about that New Jersey town…)
The battlefield is strewn with gutless lies.
Donald: your piggishness and wish to ride the edgy line of “pushing the envelope” has caught up with you. ( I hereby announce that the phrase “pushing the envelope” will never again be used by me, except in specific reference to the U.S Postal service and postal workers who push the envelope around in the back room, with comcommitant delays in delivery…but that is another, Non-Don, story.)
The only thing of genuine interest in the Imus show were those 33-minutes-after-the-hour interviews that he did with writers and commentators and a few pols and cultural observers and such. The interviews were’nt always interesting, but they were generally interesting enough to get me to switchover from my default NPR/WNYC local station, who –sad to say– are making it easier and easier for me to switchover because of an Alarmingly Rising Cuteness Index at NPR….)
Imus had a range of regular guests…most of whom, sadly, seem to have deserted him. It seems that some of them never really liked Don.
Imus has a large Piggishness Index. I squirm even now when I remember –out of many instances– one interview with IITM Regular Andrea Mitchell (wife of ex-Fed Alan “Irrational Exuberance” Greenspan.) Imus started out with insulting her, and continued to insult her throughout the 15 or 20 minute interview, and Andrea just sat and took it, apparently so she could continue to plug some book, or keep her name “up there”.
I confess: It took me some time to focus, to realize he was insulting her, apparently quite gratuitously, and that she was just taking it. And that she and most other guests made their (supposed fame-or-fortune) accommodations, apparently endlessly.
PBS’s Gwen Ifell (sp?) –who in my view has evolved into one of our finest news people– did an op-ed piece in the NYT two days ago, dealing with Imus’s alleged “cleaning lady” 1998 remark about her. It was a classy piece, but there was a tone to it that I thought got the issue wrong…I’ll have to look back and see if I can express that better.
Gwen I am sure was not intending to pile on, but there was some of that effect. Why now?
And we had Bob Herbert “timely” recounting of CBS’s Mike Wallace’s story of an Imus racist remark, also an 1998 story. Why now, Bob? Why now, Mike. And why Imus? (I’m not being naive here, it’s a serious question.)
(And, by the way, why did I wait with my Andrea Martin story, above? I did have an instinct to complain about it, and it was just one example of many possibles. It DID get me to see it for what it was, and the mechanisms that produced it. It did get me to see that the IITM show was really LOCKER-ROOM AMERICA, bunch of guys egging each other on to further and further edgyiness (so-called).
But with this one exception –the interviews– that got me to switchover regularly from (risingly-cute, but still, let me state, peerless) NPR.
And now we have lost that best 33-minutes-after-the-6,7,8 hour interview spot, for me one of the very best things ON ALL OF RADIO.
Folks! There is nothing –almost nothing– worth listening to ON RADIO!!! In this huge nation, with all its resources, and its many brilliant, worth-listening-to people. NOTHING. Can you believe it? You had better believe it. (Can we really deny we are in decline?)
One of the things that Imus did –uniquely– was to present a spectrum of commentator, from Right to Left, Pat Buchanan –not my cup of tea, so to speak, but Pat was always interesting– to, lets see, say Howard Fineman of Newsweek, who was always insightful, and not afraid to castigate the Left, an important, and unique, distinction.
And the Imus show –the Mind part, rather than LOCKER-ROOM AMERICA,– was the only way that I was able to chart the drift from pro-Iraq War over to UTTER IRAQ WAR DISENCHANTMENT that has over four years hove inexorably into our ken.
(Imus even told John Kerry to shut up, stop talking, stop further digging of the Kerrey hole that the poor Senator was always working on….)
I think the one truly unforgivable thing that Imus did after his NHH remark was to unprevaricatingly OWN UP and to issue a pure and simple APOLOGY.
This is what truly put Imus over the edge. I did it; I was wrong; Things are going to change; I’M SORRY.
Who does he think he is? An Apology? In this world where nobody apologizes, where nobody seems able to apologize, where not even our socalled World Leaders seem to know what an Apology is, what Taking Responsibility is.
Doesn’t he know the formula, “Mistakes were made” –and say it only when you are finally forced to say something.
The Pope could not apologize to the Muslims. He used the “sorry you felt that way” construction. A World Spiritual Leader and he can’t apologize? (Of course there was that protracted training period with the priestly pedophilia issue.)
And of course we have our own leader’s compulsive avoidance. Remember Mr. Bush’s recent “Bring it on” moment of candor. He was sorry he had said that. Why?: “Because there’s always someone somewhere who will misinterpret that…”
Listen to me, Benedict and Dubya: You cannot Take Responsibility and Excuse and Justify yourself at the same time.
It reminds me of that old Billy Eckstine song:
“If I made you cry…I apologize.”
(Quailshootist Dick Cheney, of course, went one even better. He got his victim Harry Whittington to apologize for getting shot in the face by Dick.)
Imus –on the face of it– issued a Real Apology. Or so it seemed to me. I wanted to give him time to show us all that he meant it. We all would have learnt a lot from that. But Al Sharpton –who has his own (unadmitted) problems with apologies– and all those faceless shareholders saw to that.
[There’s lots more to say on the subject –like, for example, the shocking story of “Don Imus and the Texas Jewboy”– but I think that I’d better leave it there for now.