Appalling as Don Imus’ “nappy-headed ho’s” comment was, I’m less disappointed in his behavior than in that of his enablers: his sponsors, his high-profile guests (many of them top politicians and journalists), and the broadcasters who carry his show. After all, Imus has a long, well-documented history of such ugly slurs, yet none of these enablers has ever called him on it. CBS (which syndicates his radio show) and NBC (which simulcasts it on MSNBC) have said they’ll start monitoring Imus’ show for content. Thanks, guys, but that herd of horses has been stampeding through the wide-open barn doors for years.
I’m worried that Imus’ two-week suspension will be seen as a complete solution instead of the finger-in-the-dike measure that it is, and that CBS and NBC (and Imus) will pat themselves on the back for having behaved responsibly. During those two weeks, what’s CBS going to air instead — Imus reruns, which may contain equally inflammatory remarks? And what of the rest of talk radio, which crosses the line as routinely as Imus did? Are any of the stations and sponsors going to be paying attention there? Let’s hope so — not just because it would result in less airwave pollution, but also because there needs to be a private-sector solution, lest the FCC take up the suggestion of Imus nemesis Al Sharpton (pictured, left, with Imus, on Sharpton’s radio show yesterday) and get the federal government involved in policing the ideological content of talk radio.
There is one thing about this whole fiasco that made me laugh: nobody with a coiffure like Imus’ has any business making fun of someone else’s hair.
Three Bears time, PopWatchers: Is Imus’ punishment too soft, too hard, or just right? (Please, be civil. Prove that the blogosphere is better than talk radio.)