Monday, June 23, 2008

Don Imus Strikes Again

To paraphrase Brook Benton, I knew it would be just a matter of time before radio talk show host Don Imus was at it again. As you may remember, Imus made some controversial remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team on April 4, 2007 which led to CBS Radio cancelling his show shortly thereafter. After months of legal wrangling, Imus returned to the airwaves last December.

On his June 23rd broadcast, Imus made some questionable comments about Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones (formerly nicknamed "Pacman"). While sports anchor Warner Wolf was reading a story about Jones, Imus inquired about Jones' ethnicity:

Warner Wolf: ...He's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005...

Imus: What color is he?

Wolf: ...He's African-American

Imus: Well. There you go. Now we know.

Afterwards, Wolf continues on about Jones and then goes into a story about soccer legend Pele being robbed at gunpoint in Brazil. To hear the entire audio clip of the incident, click here.

In the wake of the controversy, Imus said that his comments about Jones were misunderstood. "I meant that he was being picked on because he's black," Imus said in a statement released by his spokesman. Although Imus could really believe that Jones is being targeted because of his race, I don't think that's the case. In my opinion, Jones' past troubles with the law are because he was a fuck-up... pure and simple.

When I initially read and listened to Imus' remarks about Jones, my first thought was that he should be gone quick, fast, and in a hurry. I even said so in the original post that I wrote. However, after listening repeatedly to Imus' remarks and in light of his explanation, I don't think that firing or suspending him would be justified. Just to be clear, I believe that Imus lied in his statement to save his ass. On the other hand, he could be telling the truth. Right or wrong, Imus' past history of making insensitive remarks means that anything he utters that's even remotely controversial will be scrutinized.

What (if anything) do you think should happen to Don Imus in regards to his comments about Adam Jones?


pjazzypar said...

I said that bastard would mess up again (actually I said something a little more emphatic). Where were the Black folk hired to keep him honest when he returned to the airwaves late last year? Don't forget to check in with Lori at Old School Mix, where she is touching on some more insensitive utterings of the rich and clueless.

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy: After I first wrote this post, a statement was released by Imus' spokesman concerning his comments about Adam Jones. In light of this new info, I revised the post. I just wanted to give you a heads up.

As for the two Blacks who were hired to keep him in check, I don't know what happened to them. Shortly before I read your comments, I checked out Lori's post about the stupid things that celebs have said.

X. Dell said...

Odd. Imus hires a writer specifically to write racist jokes, and people are surprised by his comments about the Rutger's basketball team. He then makes race an issue again, and people say he's stupid.

That brings me to a quandary when asking your question. It seems to me that he's simply being who he is: a man ignorant about and insensitive to his own racism. His station let him go the last time because it didn't want to appear to be in the practice of hiring bigots. But surely, they knew what the man was, or they found out about it at some point. So WABC's policy obviously doesn't exclude bigotry in the workforce, so long as it's not voiced over the air.

I'm not sure if firing Imus will accomplish anything, although I find his explanation less than credible. I think about the only way to get something positive out of the situation is to expose both Imus and his employer for what they are, and never let up.

Of course, that would mean that the average American attention span would have grow geometrically.

Jessica said...

What a jerk...his statement is clearly makes no sense after listening to the clip. Ugh..this guy is just a rude insensitive bastard.

Anonymous said...

What a jackass....who actually listens to him anyway?
I understand why people are saying that if he was only being sarcastic and implying that "black people are picked on by police" - then he shouldn't be fired.

But my question is, why even ask, "What color is he?" What a racist statement to start with! Or, is he looking to make headlines and get attention?

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

What I have a hard time comprehending is why anyone would want to listen to this guys show in the first place. He has a right to freedom of speech, even asshole racist jerks have that right in this country. I think what bothers me is that people find what asshole racist jerks say interesting or entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Imus should be forced to serve as a big brother to Adam Jones by Roger Goodell.

Malcolm said...

X. Dell: The fact that the ratings of Imus' show were less than stellar made it easy for CBS Radio to give him the ax in the wake of the Rutgers controversy. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had his ratings been stronger.

If Imus didn't understand that his words are going to receive intense scrutiny, he does now in light of the reaction to his latest comments.

Jessica: If Imus' was making a sarcastic remark, one would think that he would've taken the time to explain that fact right after he made the remarks. That's just another why I don't believe him.

Holly, Who's Thriving At 30: "Who listens to him anyway?" is a good question. Back in the 90s, I would occasionally watch some of the MSNBC simulcast of his radio show. After a few minutes of that boring crap, I'd quickly change the channel. Like I said, this is something I continued to do occasionally, just to see if the show had gotten any better. It never did.

Your question as to why Imus would even inquire about Jones' race is a very good one. Given his history, if he were really making a sarcastic remark, why wouldn't he explain that immediately instead of doing so after the media/public reacts negatively?

Barbara: To prepare for those times when you have trouble sleeping, you should try to record Imus' show. When those bouts of insomnia pop up, play the tape of Imus' show... you will be out in no time.

Tallulah: If Goodell had the power, he would probably do it.

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