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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

As everyone paying even a modicum of attention to the news knows, talk radio star Don Imus made some repugnant remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team last week that has resulted in a great deal of media attention and criticism and has now earned him a two week suspension.

Now, I do not listen to nor watch Imus and if I strung together all of the sound bites that I have seen of the show over the years, I doubt I have seen/heard an hour’s worth of the show. The biggest exposure to Don Imus I have ever had was a 60 Minutes interview that I saw years and years ago-and I didn’t know who he was at the time.

Really, the main thing I know about Imus is that he has a great number of politically-oriented guests on his show, including a number of folks from the commentariat.

And it is there that I find this whole situation rather interesting, because I noted two rather odd defenses of Imus yesterday as I was reading up on the story.

The first was from Howard Fineman of Newsweek, who was a guest on Imus yesterday via phone. In the interview Fineman said:

FINEMAN: […]- you know, it’s a different time, Imus. You know, it’s different than it was even a few years ago, politically. I mean, we may, you know — and the environment, politically, has changed. And some of the stuff that you used to do, you probably can’t do anymore.

IMUS: No, you can’t. I mean -

FINEMAN: You just can’t. Because the times have changed. I mean, just looking specifically at the African-American situation. I mean, hello, Barack Obama’s got twice the number of contributors as anybody else in the race.

Now, that is a radically bizarre explanation of the situation. Is there any other way to explain Fineman’s statement than to say that times have changed, and so you just can’t do the racist humor any more and that the proof of this is because a black man is doing so well in the current Democratic primary process? It is as if he is lamenting that you just can’t make fun of those black people anymore. And in case one is unaware of what Imus said, he referred to the Rutgers’ women basketball team as a bunch of “nappy-headed hos.” Not only is that a blatantly racist statement, the women in question were college students for crying out loud.

Then we have the following from columnist and cartoonist Tom Oliphant who was a guest yesterday as well:

IMUS: Good morning, Mr. Oliphant.

OLIPHANT: Good morning, Mr. Imus, and solidarity forever, by the way.

IMUS: Thank you.


OLIPHANT: — calls up, and the first question he asks me is, “Are you thinking about not appearing on Imus?” And for once in my life, I answered a direct question with a direct answer. I said, “No, I’m not.” And he says, “Well, why not?” And I said, “Because, being the world’s most boring person, I had taken the trouble to go all the way though this episode from about two minutes before you said what you said last Wednesday, and then all the way through the statement you made spontaneously on Thursday and then the more prepared one you made on Friday, and I said that’s it. That took care of it as far as I’m concerned.”

And — but it was a cute little trick to see if your constituency would falter, and I was very happy to say no.


OLIPHANT: But to me, that only means that those of us who, through an accident, were scheduled, who know better, have a moral obligation to stand up and say to you, “Solidarity forever, pal.”

Now, I am not a big fan of hunting for hypocrisy in the mass media, but I find these responses remarkable insofar as had any number of other media personalities made those comments, the firestorm that emerged from people like Oliphant, who is rather liberal in his political orientation (as evidenced by his commentary work) would have been intense.

On the one hand, I understand that part of what is going on here is the defense of a friend-and we are all more likely to overlook the foibles of friends than of other persons. Still, sometimes when a friend messes up, that friends needs to be taken to task. For Fineman to go on the air and seemingly yearn for the good ‘ol days when one could make racist jokes, is a stunning display.

Gwen Ifill takes Imus to task today in the NYT:

For all their grit, hard work and courage, the Rutgers girls got branded “nappy-headed ho’s” — a shockingly concise sexual and racial insult, tossed out in a volley of male camaraderie by a group of amused, middle-aged white men. The “joke” — as delivered and later recanted — by the radio and television personality Don Imus failed one big test: it was not funny.

Ifill also recounts her own encounter with Imus and his “humor.” Some years ago she apparently did not return Imus’ calls when she was covering the Clinton White House for the NYT and so Imus decided to attack. His comment about Ifill:

“Isn’t The Times wonderful,” Mr. Nelson quoted Mr. Imus as saying on the radio. “It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House.”


(For those unfamiliar with Ms. Ifill, she is an African-American.)

I suppose my bottom line point is that it is exceedingly odd that so many allegedly liberal reporters and commentators appear with such regularity on Imus’ show and that they are so interested in defending him now.

Sphere: Related Content

Filed under: US Politics, Talk Radio, The Press | |


  1. […] -Get His Words Out:”I’m all for people telling him how offensive he is, but getting Al Sharpton involved and having a boycott of his show or his advertisers ain’t gonna do a damn bit o’ good. The average Imus listener is probably a whole lot like Imus - white, middle aged, male, and not particularly liberal or open to change. These are the guys that avoid going into an urban area, or anywhere they perceived as not their home turf, lest they actually SEE a person of color, or have to speak to them. Those people are probably sending thank you notes to Imus as we speak.” -Firedoglake:”For two short weeks, Imus has been tossed off the radio chuckwagon. How many of his little dress-up cowboy pals will come running up to play with their cap guns until the next round of insults comes flying out? Look out for those toads and serpents, fellers…some of them can be toxic.” -Steven Taylor seems something odd in some of the defenses of Imus. -Chris Bowers:“So he’s not axed, but a measure has been taken. A progressive probably would have just been axed. When it does return, I wonder how long it will be before he makes the remark that gets him fired.” -Attytood:“Free speech doesn’t mean you’re obligated to give the guy a megaphone for his moronic comments. And as many are asking, why do the Tim Russerts and the Maureen Dowds of the world give this guy the time of day? I suspect it’s to show they’re in touch with the little people — but they’re just so out of touch they have no idea who the little people are any more. Also, I’d like to see MSNBC can Imus for good so they can air some real news in that a.m. time slot, as an alternative to some of CNN’s lame features in the morning.” […]

    Pingback by Imus Suspension Controversy And Soul Searching Continues | The Moderate Voice — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 10:52 am

  2. […] Read What Other Bloggers Are Saying About This: The Moderate Voice; MyDD; Obsidian Wings; PoliBlog; Michael P.F. van der Galiën; Pam’s House Blend; The Drudge Retort […]

    Pingback by The Gun Toting Liberal™ — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 10:55 am

  3. See a tongue-in-cheek visual of Imus and his newfound buddy, Michael Richards, hanging out and counting sheep…here:

    Comment by Daniel DiRito — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  4. If anyone cares to read it, One of our writers on Highbrid Nation actually worked wit Imus over the last few years at WFAN and had some really interesting things to say about the whole situation with Imus and he also has some inside info that the media hasn’t mentioned about the whole story.

    Comment by Evorgleb — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 11:09 am

  5. Radio host Don Imus, an entertainer and comedian, is being raked across the coals for a random racist remark.

    That’s what the Media Ho’s at CBS, MSNBC, and CNN, would like you to believe.

    In fact, Imus has been on their hit list for a long time. Read about the long-term attacks from for a repugnant look at a far left website.


    Imus is a registered Republican, carrries a concealed weapon (legally, in New York City), and although plays the Devil’s Advocate perfectly, is in fact a — gasp! — Conservative who’s pro-life.

    IMUS: “I used to support abortion — until I realized it was killing babies”.

    IMUS TO JOHN KERRY: “Why not fill out the forms {releasing his Navy records] today, John?”

    That’s the REAL REASON they’re picking on Imus. Imus is a CONSERVATIVE!

    If it’s racism they want, let them start with Howard Stern, Snoop Dog and the rest of the ‘hoodniks.

    Or Eddie Murphy, who’s movie “Norbit” contains some of the vilest attack on black women ever filmed.

    Oh, wait — the liberals laughed at that film.

    Here’s a sample from the review at

    Nonstop sexually themed jokes and innuendo. Frequent gags about Rasputia’s sexual appetites and body (breasts set off car horn, cleavage is visible, bikini shows lots of skin, shots of nipples through clothes, she washes car in slow motion); pimps evaluate/disparage women and talk about “johns” and “bitches” one sexual scene shows a woman dressed as a chained slave and a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln; sexualized dance moves; sex game features “squealing like a pig” joke about adulterer’s erection; sexual allusions like “tap ya” and “power tap” several references to “titties” and “strip joint”/”titty bar” (to be called “Nippolopolous”); visual bikini wax joke (violent and sexual); joke about trying to “nail” a girl; romantic kisses between Norbit and Kate.

    Abusive, mean-spirited bullies; blatant racial stereotypes prey on Chinese and Italian characters, African-American pimps, an overbearing African-American woman, and an elderly Caucasian woman; characters cheat, lie, and commit adultery; plenty of fart jokes and “gross-out” eating jokes.

    I guess it’s better to have two hours of fat, racist black women jokes and Murphy in a fat suit and nappy wig than one 5 second remark from White Imus. — Al Czervic

    Comment by Al Czervic — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  6. My thoughts are as follows:

    Fire him and be done with it. Ignore the story. He only gains noteriaty the longer this goes on.

    Alternately, don’t fire him but ignore him and be done with it. We’ve seen enough of Imus already.

    Comment by B. Minich — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

  7. Maybe he said “Happy Wedded Vogues.” Those who believe that the solution to the “Imus” problem is to simply turn him off are not considering one key point. Please visit “If you don’t like it, turn it off” at if interested.

    Comment by The Sarcasticynic — Tuesday, April 10, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

  8. […] I also noted the peculiar nature of some of Imus’ defenders. […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The Key to the Imus Situation — Sunday, April 15, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

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