The hypocrisy of Imus’ critics

Published 15 years ago -  - 15y ago 55

What’s the big fuss all about? Don Imus has been making a fabulous living for ages out of saying things which liberals tend to call “inappropriate” or “insensitive.”

It’s what he does, and up until now he has been given a pass for his boorish behavior. Imus, however, has now managed to shove Attorney General Gonzalez and the late Anna Nicole Smith off the front pages and TV news and celebrity broadcasts, for making yet another egregious racist slander – this time about a girl’s basketball team whose members deserve nothing but the highest praise.

Imus is not the least bit unfamiliar with being in the media hot seat – remember the furor over his caustic remarks about the Clintons who were present  at the head table feet away from him at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in 1996 when he attacked them –   but he’s never been the center of a genuine media firestorm.

There is no question that in making his remarks, which I’m not going to repeat , he crossed a line which nobody in the political spectrum from the far left to the far right believes should ever be crossed. And his target was a group of fine young women any parent would be proud to call their offspring.

Aside from the egregiousness of this offense, however, what else is new? He’s been crossing other lines for years, but because he is now one of the most dedicated propagandists for the liberal agenda and its heroes, he’s been allowed to get away with it.

I am a Roman Catholic – a creed that insists that taking the name of Jesus in vain comes under the Commandment that “thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God in vain” He does it repeatedly every morning on his show, and I wince every time I hear it. For that alone he should be driven off the airwaves, but since attacking Catholics and their beliefs is part of the liberal media’s creed, nobody in the media protests. But now had he used the new “F” word the outcry would be deafening.

Then there is the little skit in which his sidekick, Bernard McGuirk, wearing a dunce cap-like mitre and speaking stage Irish,  presents  himself as New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan. The dialogue is often ribald and as about as offensive as such an irreligious satire can be. But that’s O.K.,  you see – his eminence is a Catholic prelate and that makes him fair game. If McGuirk donned a yamikas and made fun of a prominent Rabbi, on the other hand, he’d have faced execution.

Years ago, he took some kind of childish delight in playing Kinky Friedman’s song “They Don’t Make Jews like Jesus Anymore,” and he was allowed to get away with that, but he doesn’t play it anymore.

In recent days the media has noted the “I Man,” a title that seems to delight  him, has said a lot of nasty things about a lot of people, calling former Senator Ben Lighthorse Campbell the man from F Troop, for example, and newscaster Gwen Ifil the “cleaning lady.”

There’s a reason why Imus has been allowed the kind of leeway nobody else, certainly not Ann Coulter, for example, is given, as the recent furor over her use of the newest “F” word demonstrated: he is the TV and radio host  who can be relied upon to provide a showcase for liberal politicians and icons and their books, columns and broadcasts.

Imus has demonstrated his ability to make an instant best seller out of a book nobody ever heard of until its author showed up on his show. Not surprisingly, the books he promotes are often about liberal causes written by liberal authors. While this isn’t always true – he’ll sometimes go out of his way to praise a book with an historical theme, or even, surprisingly, a book that demolishes the myth of Alger Hiss’ innocence – but a book by a liberal author has the best chance on Imus in the morning.

Imus in the Morning is simulcast by MSNBC on TV and by CBS on radio.   As Bill O’Reilly has pointed out recently, MSNBC is blatantly leftist, and Imus in the Morning regularly iconizes such NBC stars as liberal Tim Russert at whose feet he regularly worships.

He is especially fond of giving airtime to the Washington Post Newsweek crowd, such as Newsweek’s   editor, the pseudo-theologist Jon Meacham who can be relied on to distort genuine Christianity at the drop of a hat, the rabid sniveling ultra-leftist Newsweek senior editor  Jonathan Alter, and Evan Thomas, appropriately the grandson of socialist Norman Thomas.

Now accused of racism, last year he went out of his way to turn his show into one long senatorial campaign commercial for former Congressman Harold Ford, and when his man lost, he blamed it, of all things, on the alleged racism of Tennessee voters, not one of whom would have ever described the Rutgers basketball team in the despicable terms Imus used.

He feverishly backed John Kerry’s presidential bid but went into a fit of pique at Kerry’s  failing to stop his campaign train at the Imus Ranch and almost ditched his candidate for this act of lese majeste.

When he does express admiration for such men of the right as Pat Buchanan and former Senator Rick Santorum he always modifies his praise by noting he likes them despite their crazy political views, which he never spells out because they are nowhere near as crazy as his own quasi-Marxist-inspired fantasies.

Imus is demonstrably an egomaniac who makes Simon Legree look like a beneficent boss in the way he treats his subordinates on the show who are frequently forced to grovel when they somehow displease him for the least offensive lapses in their obligation to treat him as a deity of sorts.

Fox News Weather forecaster Janice Dean worked for Imus doing his “scum report”  feature. She endured the worst kind of verbal abuse with frequent dark suggestions about her alleged sex life and personal behavior before leaving the show abruptly to become a non-person at Imus in the Morning. Every time I see her superbly done national weather forecasts on Fox I want to cheer. Her success must be galling to the I Man who condemned her to the outer darkness where there was meant to be only weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

There wasn’t, and that has to bug Imus.

At the moment Imus is doing a little groveling himself, trying desperately to avoid losing his multi-million dollar broadcasting empire. He’s apologized about 15 times a minute since the furor began and has done everything but follow Britney Spears into a rehab center.

MSNBC and CBS have both suspended him for two weeks, giving him the equivalent of a two-week vacation as some critics have noted. Columnist Randy Cohen who deals with ethical issues demands more. Recognizing that Imus’ offensive remarks about the girls were “only a slightly exaggerated form of what Imus does every day,” he says ” I’d fire the guy.”

So would I, but I doubt that MSNBC will kill a liberal cash cow like Imus in the Morning. In the end, at that network, money, and liberalism, talk loudly.

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