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day permlink Sunday, 15 April 2007

permlink April 15: Jackie Robinson Day

Today is Jackie Robinson Day []

This Week in Baseball had a nice special on Robinson today.

A lot of players planned to wear the retired number 42 today in honor of Robinson; some whole teams, even. A lot of games were postponed for rain, though; maybe they'll still do it tomorrow.

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permlink Highly Paid Speech != Free Speech: The Almighty Market has spoken & Tim Russert's best friend has lost his cushy gig

I never watched or listened to "Imus in the Morning" for more than a few minutes. Occasionally I would come across the video simulcast of him at MSNBC.

I am pretty thoroughly not his audience -- whenever I tried watching, I could never understand what such a boring, nothing show was doing on a major cable news network. (It was more boring than regular cable news would have been, if you can imagine - long musical gaps with no talking, then a couple of muttered exchanges between the host and a sidekick, then another long music break. This is such interesting radio that MSNBC wants to show the video of it too? Does not compute.)

But he definitely had some kind of audience, because a whole lot of journalists like Tim Russert and Jon Meacham and politicians like John McCain and Joe Lieberman have made a real habit of showing up to hang out with the I-Man and promote their books and projects. That gives him a pretty rarefied standing, and it creates an implicit blessing that all these bigshots are conferring on Imus.

Now he finally got too loud and picked on someone who was very much not his own size in a way that people couldn't just turn a blind eye to any more, and so now it's goodbye. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

It's not like this was an isolated incident; Imus has been an asshole to everyone who isn't just like him for many, many years now. It's his whole shtick. From a 1995 column(!) that Digby dug up:

Lieberman worries, on the Senate floor, that the increasing vulgarity of network TV "is lowering the standards of what we accept on television, particularly in what used to be family programing hours."

But he's talking out of both sides of his mouth. This week's moments of supposed humor on Imus, broadcast at an hour when children are rising for school, included a reference to Attorney General Janet Reno in crotchless pantyhose, an interview with Screw Magazine's Al Goldstein and a drunken woman saying "s---" over the air. Teehee.

Lieberman is alarmed that some child watching an 8 p.m. TV show might hear the word "hooters." Yet he legitimizes, by his regular presence, a radio show that will fill the child's ears with far more vulgarity, sly racist jokes, gay-baiting and all-around bad taste than the child is ever likely to hear on TV.

Why jump into this sewer? Votes. Imus is free media. His audience consists mainly of those 18-to-34-year-old males who are so hard for a politician to reach.

The temptation is overwhelming. Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) will in one breath deplore the coarsening of our national discourse and the state of race relations, then appear on Imus where the idea of a neat joke is to suggest a black football player might be a carjacker.

Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) righteously denounces Hollywood for its raunchy movies and then joins the gang on Imus for a little friendly guy banter.

Clearly the bleeding off of sponsors had a whole lot to do with it; good for the sponsors.

Then again, one should give them only as much credit as they're due: It's not that they never supported Imus' dedicated assholery. It's that he finally became blatant and noxious and noticed enough that they decided it wasn't profitable to be associated with it.

The MSNBC and CBS statements about it all were incredibly weak; much better would have been:

"Yes, he has been a profitably entertaining asshole for us, but even though he has lots of friends in the media and in politics, we will no longer pay him large sums to be an asshole on our stations."

And for everyone crying "censorship!", get a clue --

  • Is he somehow unable to start his own podcast show or weblog and do his old-man-Beavis show there?
  • Does he have a constitutional right to be handed large sums of money?
  • Let's be honest, surely some satellite radio company is set to give him a show now anyhow. The shocking harm and violence done to poor Mr. Imus and his sidekicks and their Free Speech rights is going to be reduced plenty.

Censorship, feh.

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