MSNBC, CBS Corp., And Imus Must Do The Right Thing
Many of you have no idea (or even care) who Don Imus is. Yet, millions of our fellow Americans tune into his radio show Monday thru Friday. It is aired on the all-sports talk station WFAN 660 AM which is owned by CBS Corp. His show is so popular, that it was also simulcast on MSNBC for 11 years until Wednesday, April 11, 2007.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’re familiar with what Imus said over the air on April 4, 2007. The topic of discussion was the Women’s NCAA National Championship game. The two teams that reached the title game were the University of Tennessee and Rutgers University.
Imus called the student-athletes from Rutgers “nappy-headed hoes” while other members of his on-air staff joined in with sexist and racist terms. For someone known as a “political kingmaker,” he showed no ability to grasp the magnitude of the words he said or allowed from his sidekicks Charles McCord and Benard McGuirk.
Bob Herbert, reporter for the NY Times, reveals in a column released today that Imus has a history of racist language and has used the n-word in conversations with co-workers. His article references an interview conducted in 1998 by Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes. Mr. Wallace confronted Imus with allegations from his producer that Imus told him Benard McGuirk was on the show to make n___r jokes. After Imus initially denied using language like that, he stated that his comments were off the record.
The coach of the Rutgers team, C. Vivian Stringer, has responded to this vicious attacked by standing up for her team, women, and all Americans sickened by the indecency in our public arena. Female athletes and non-athletes are consistently disrespected in all forms of entertainment (music, print, film, TV) and in the workplace.
Will Imus be the pebble tossed into the pond which created the ripples of change? Will this moment be seized to clean up how we allow public airways distribute messages of intolerance and hate? Can we allow free speech and also encourage respect and decency in entertainment?
I know what I think and how I feel about this issue… how do the women feel? What do our daughters, mothers, wives, and sisters feel?