Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Imus Fiasco

Radio personality Don Imus, as most of you probably know by now, has been fired from both MSNBC and CBS Radio. I am not sure if firing him was the right punishment, but what he said was in very poor taste. His comments were directed toward young women, just a year or two out of high school. He definitely went over the line, but this is nothing new. He has made less than flattering remarks about many people over the years. To use terms, even in passing, like "nappy headed hos" shows Imus opened his mouth without engaging his brain.

Yet he does tremendous good. He and his wife run the Imus Ranch in New Mexico, for children with cancer. He raised millions for charity. This one-time railroad brakeman who hit the big time in radio, has always been a controversial and iconoclastic figure. He certainly has freedom of speech, and CBS certainly has the right to dismiss him. What we don't have in a free society is the freedom from being offended by someone's comments.

While Imus' words that got him in trouble were not the right thing to say, there is much worse out there. Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, and Dennis Prager have also made their stock and trade in vitriol. Then we have Ann Coulter, who said about the 9/11 widows, "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband's death so much."

I would venture to say that Don Imus has helped many more people than Coulter ever will. Yes, he deserves punishment, but I think firing was too severe. Apparently, it is okay to denigrate victims of terrorism in this country, but you'd better not piss off Al Sharpton.

My opinion of Imus, outside his philanthropic work, is that he is an egotistic and bombastic former shock jock. That said, unless some other talk show pundits get the boot as well, Imus is owed an apology himself.

My prediction? If he doesn't return to terrestrial radio, look for XM to pick him up. With his arch nemesis Howard Stern owning a huge chunk of Sirius, I doubt he will land there. But if he wants to get on XM, he'd better move quickly before the Sirius/XM merger happens.

Even if he gets back on the air, I won't be listening. I didn't before this mess, and I sure won't after!

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