As Don Imus’s career appears to be screeching to a halt [UPDATE: CBS has fired Imus, so he’s done], there are two interesting takes on the whole business in today’s Herald. First, Casey Ross got an apparently exclusive interview with Deval Patrick on the Imus flap.
“I’m sick of this,” Patrick told the Herald. “I’m sick of the careless insults that get hurled around. I’m sick of the lack of respect. And why? Because you can’t make a point about a basketball team without talking about them that way?” …
Patrick declined to take a position on whether Imus should be fired, saying, “That’s up to the station.” But he sharply denounced cynicism that results in the public airing of disrespectful commentary. “It has nothing to do with being (politically correct),” Patrick said. “It has to do with respect and saying, `We don’t accept that kind of thing.’ ”
Contrast that sensible take with the usually sensible Brett Arends (see, for example, his excellent column from yesterday trashing Mitt Romney), who for some reason doesn’t see a big problem with what Imus said.
I have watched with disbelief as the media mob has formed around talk jock Don Imus. OK, so he wasn’t paying a compliment to the young women of the Rutgers basketball team. But so what? Are compliments the only kind of speech permitted these days?
Uh, what? Again, folks, how many times do we have to explain this? This is not about free speech. Don Imus has every right to stand on a street corner and rant about anything he wants. Or he could start a blog. He’s probably even got enough money that he could buy a printing press and start cranking out pamphlets if he felt like it. But he has no right to a radio or TV show, and MSNBC and CBS are well within their rights to can his ass. With sponsors bailing out like rats from a rapidly sinking ship, they didn’t have much of a choice.
Here’s another thing that puzzled me about Arends’ column.
“Nappy-headed hos” was crude and off base, but it was obviously tongue in cheek, and it is not hate speech.
It is not, for example, like calling Jews “Hymies” and New York “Hymietown.” That, of course, is what the Rev. Jesse Jackson once did.
Hmm. Not sure I’m seeing the logic there. Wasn’t “Hymietown” a “tongue in cheek” comment, which apparently makes it OK? And let’s not forget, Brett, that Imus is the same guy who said of African-American journalist Gwen Ifill’s covering the White House for the NY Times several years back, “Isn’t the Times wonderful. It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House.” Tongue in cheek? Maybe. As bad as Hymietown? You make the call. [UPDATE: Vennochi has a good rundown of some of Imus’s other humdingers, and the Globe also has a guest op-ed column that explains why the “nappy headed” thing matters — an interesting read. Also, don’t forget that Media Matters has been driving the Imus story from day 1 — kudos, once again, to them.]
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, also running for president, has faced criticism for his silence on the issue, but a spokesman said last night Romney believes the comments were “hurtful” and “wrong.”
“If he’s ever invited back (on Imus’ show), he’ll tell that to him directly,” Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said.
Wow! Romney’s spokesman said that the next time Romney’s on Imus, he’ll speak to him — sternly, no doubt. Well, how ’bout this as an alternative plan, Mitt: don’t go on the show. And say so yourself. Pretty simple. I know, Romney’s not the only one not ruling out appearing on the show in the future. Shame on all of them.
Oh, and speaking of Romney, have you actually seen the video of his “varmints, if you will” speech about how he really is a hunter? It’s one of the funniest things yet to happen on the campaign trail, and it could easily spell the end of any support his campaign might once have enjoyed among people who care about guns.
Hi-frickin’-larious. He will use, no doubt, his spear and magic helmet to kill those varmints.