The future of Don Imus’s nationally syndicated CBS radio show clearly hinged less on Les Moonves, CBS’s chief executive, than on a lynch mob led by the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. CBS fired Imus, after MSNBC dropped its TV simulcast of the “Imus in the Morning” radio program, because the broadcaster had referred to the predominantly black Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.”
The media monolith, pitchforks hoisted, has conducted a swift public trial, meant to make an example of Imus, and serve as a warning to all others who fail to march in lockstep, shouting “Jawohl!” In solidarity with the offended women, members of the chattering class have been tripping over one another, to show-off their suppurating stigmata. We heard from weatherman Al Roker, Whoopi Goldberg, Maya Angelou, Amy Holmes, Naomi Wolf—they all spoke with one voice (so much for diversity). With few exceptions, everybody demanded that Imus be silenced, fired, retired. So said the National Association of Black Journalists.
Extolled as the best this nation has to offer, the young players held a somber press conference, during which they honed the art of taking offense. Faces grim, the girls were as charitable as the Politburo. “They had not decided whether they would accept Mr. Imus’ apology,” they informed the press. All they knew was that they had been “scarred for life”; that theirs was the collective howl of wounded womanhood. “All of our accomplishments were lost, our moment was taken away,” the women intoned.
Said Essence Carson, the captain of the team:
Not only has Mr. Imus stolen a moment of pure grace from us, but he has brought us to the harsh reality that behind the faces of the networks. They have worked so hard to convey a message and empowerment to young adults that somehow, some way the door has been left open to attack your leaders of tomorrow.
Come again? Although the speeches of both black and white spokeswomen were short on grammatical English and long on banalities and clichés, everyone and his dog praised the girls for their extraordinary eloquence.
An old git utters an ugly utterance, and these “strong” and sinewy women are stripped of “all that they had worked for, all that they sacrificed for”? Oh the hyperbole! Whatever happened to sticks and stones and all that? What about rising above the fray? Turning the other cheek? Not milking a situation tackily for all it’s worth? Where’s the Christian forgiveness in all this? Were these athletes my daughters, I’d have advised them to lighten up, tell Gramps to get a grip, and get back to the game.
The next stop on their Via Dolorosa is Oprah, naturally.
Just so his fans know he’s on the side of the angels, the insufferably sanctimonious Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s Countdown, made sure to divulge he had been agitating behind the scenes for Imus’ removal. Olbermann then let Jesse Jackson of the “Hymietown” fame (and friend to Louis Farrakhan) shake down MSNBC on air. I was unable to decipher Jackson’s word salad, bar the demand for more black anchors and hosts on the network. “Where are all the black talk-show hosts?” Jackson demanded.
Well, the one I liked most was axed by MSNBC: WND columnist Alan Keyes. Other than being overeducated, Keyes displayed a lamentable lack of tolerance for Palestinian suicide bombers. His show was terminated shortly after a magnificent display of moral outrage at the “existential meaning of painstakingly—almost lovingly—packing parcels of shrapnel, ball-bearings, nails and rat poison, to lodge in the bodies of Israeli civilians,” as I wrote in a 2002 column.
Al Sharpton as the nation’s moral arbiter: now that’s a preposterous notion. Tawana Brawley anyone? The Crown Heights Riot?
The first was a version of the Duke Lacrosse libel, where a black girl, carefully coached by Sharpton, Nifonged a district attorney and some innocent police officers. Sharpton never retracted the rapist and racist epithets he slung at the falsely accused. The last saw Sharpton help incite an anti-Jewish riot, after a rabbi’s motorcade accidentally ran over a black boy. Consequently, a young Jew was lynched by a mob chanting “kill the Jew.” Sharpton, a bent and brutal man with vengeance on his mind, was impenitent.
I cringed when self-styled Jewish leaders like Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League leapt into denazifying mode following Mel Gibson’s anti-Jew petit mal. But this latest Sharpton-and-Jackson-led reign of terror has made Foxman look as genteel and sedate as an English squire.
When in doubt about the latest media-fanned contagion, check with satirist Jon Stewart. He usually gets it. (And no, he’s not a left-liberal; Stephen Colbert is. Stewart is a super smart left-libertarian, equally scathing about the left, the right, and most of all, the media.) After announcing the winner in the media-manipulated Anna Nicole Smith paternity sweepstakes, Stewart set about placing the Imus burlesque in perspective.
“An off-hand remark uttered by an elderly man on the radio deserves nothing less than our full-team coverage,” he quipped sarcastically, summoning the Daily Show’s “senior black correspondent” and “senior woman correspondent.” The delicious Samantha Bee also pronounced herself expert on all things ho. A knuckle dragging, date rapist correspondent weighed in for balance. As Stewart noted, Imus had donned his contrition shades and tried to apologize, but when that didn’t work, “it was time for page two of the white-celebrity-struggling-with-racism playbook: sitting down with Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.”
But that failed too. And that’s something not even Stewart could have predicted.
©2007 By Ilana Mercer