Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus steps in it again

I was about to go to bed, but the MSNBC simulcast of "Imus in the Morning" came on, so I watched a few minutes. I didn't stay on long enough to hear Bill Maher or Hamilton Jordan or any of the other guests, but I did hear Don Imus himself speak yet another faux pas. He was talking about the comments that the Reverend Al Sharpton made to Imus on Sharpton's radio program yesterday. Imus said that Sharpton has every right to call for Imus to be fired, but criticized the fact that Sharpton was making his comments without ever having listened to the show. Unfortunately, Imus described portions of Sharpton's comments as "just jive." Yikes. So much for being careful about racially loaded slang terms, Don. I believe that he's not a cross-burning klansman, but Don Imus just doesn't seem to "get it" when it comes to watching his language — and he doesn't even have the excuse of being poor white trash! (Or is that the pot calling the kettle black? The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!)

If you've missed this uproar, Don Imus on his radio program last week said that the Rutgers University women's basketball team looked like a bunch of "nappy-headed ho's"; for that comment, Imus is being suspended from both radio and television for two weeks, beginning next Monday. Yesterday, he apologized on his own program and again on a two-hour stint on Al Sharpton's program. He's also appearing on the Today show, and he has asked for the opportunity to apologize in person to the Rutgers team and their families; the Rutgers folks have scheduled a press conference for later today.

While Imus' comment was offensive, it is important to keep in mind a few mitigating factors. First of all, he was not speaking from malice, but from a badly misguided attempt at humor. That doesn't excuse what he said, but it does put it in a milder category than, for example, Michael Richards' racial tirade last fall. Secondly, Don Imus has been very up front about apologizing for his remarks and owning the fact that he said something very wrong. He hasn't indulged in the political cop-out of "I apologize if anything I said may have offended some of my audience...." Again, it doesn't excuse his words, but it does, I believe, demonstrate genuine understanding and remorse.

Let's hope that Don Imus uses his two weeks of involuntary time off to wash out his mouth with a little Rinso White....

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