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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nobody Stood Up For Him

by digby

Tucker just said that nobody among Imus's lifelong friends in the media came forward and vouched for his character, saying he was a good man and not a racist.

Tucker doesn't watch his own network:

DAVID GREGORY: And Mike, I think I speak for both of us, we are both, as the audience may know, frequent guests on the Imus program. You have known him and been on the program even longer than I have. And this is a difficult time, not just because of the hurt that he has inflicted and what he said, as he tries to deal with it, but for all of us who are on the program and certainly don’t want to be associated with this kind of thing that he’s done, as all of this plays out.

So, first, your reaction to this as we go forward.

BARNICLE: David, you’re right, it is a difficult thing to endure, it’s a difficult thing to hear for any of us, no matter whether you’re on the program or not. I’ve known Don a long time. I can tell you, as he has indicated several times today and last week, he is a good man, he is not a racist. I mean, it sounds pitiful to have to say something like that, but he’s a good man.


BARNICLE: Oh, David, he absolutely gets it. He, more than any of us, more than you, more than Gene, more than myself, more than a lot of people realizes that word are weapons, that the hurt that these words inflicted are deep, lasting, historical in some sense. The historical pain is resurrected here. He certainly understands that. He also knows that something the two of you just alluded to, this is not over, that we live in a nation, given the power of the Internet and bloggers, that we are a nation of 300 million newspaper columnists today and everyone will weigh in on this, from coast to coast. And at some point, some blogger in Pocatello, Idaho, carries somewhat equal weight to, like, George Will.

That’s the country and the culture we’re a part of. He gets all of that.


FINEMAN: To answer your earlier question about whether Imus gets it, I think he does get it. But he said what he said, and there will be consequences for what he said. And NBC made it clear tonight what those consequences are. And I think NBC is hoping, as I do, when I spoke with Imus this morning on the radio, that he uses this as what I call the teachable moment, that he learn from this. And as I think he said at one point this morning when I was talking to him, he said, I need to grow up, at least a little. And that’s a humorous way of saying the obvious truth here, that he does. He’s 66 years old. People learn.

I think the form of humor that he was using is not only risky but has probably outlived its usefulness.[! --- ed] I think times have changed, things have changed.

But in any era, at any time, to say what he said about those women was, as I think Steve Capus of NBC News said tonight, just reprehensible and outrageous and completely unacceptable in any framework. [nice save...ed]


GREGORY: Craig Crawford, is it time for Imus to go?

CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Not at all. I don‘t see how that helps anything. I would say this man—you know, in my experience on the show—I‘ve done it nearly 70 times in the last three years—this—his heart is as big as his mouth, and the mouth gets him in trouble, as it has now.


GREGORY: But Craig, you feel a little bit differently here. You think that people are overblowing this, that he‘s apologized, that we should move on.

CRAWFORD: I think in the context of this show—I know, as you know say, that much of it is serious commentary. And when they do the sports, as they were doing here, that‘s where you see more to the comedy elements, some of the skits they do. It‘s not just racial. We see jokes about Catholics, about Jewish people, gays, I mean, and my argument would be that when you stifle that kind of speech, when you stifle it, you‘re not dealing with the sentiment behind it. And to actually say someone should be fired for making jokes about this kind of stuff doesn‘t really get us down the road toward discussing what‘s behind it and how—how...

That's just from Hardball alone.

Tucker got the idea that nobody vouched for Imus's character from this rather shocking interview with someone I normally quite admire, Jonathan Alter:

ALTER: I do go on the show. I will continue to go on the show. I think what he said was racist, not to mention being unfunny and stupid, but if you don‘t believe he should be fired, then you can‘t call for a boycott, because a boycott would amount to the same thing as his being fired. If all of his guests, all of those senators in both parties, all the journalists all stopped going on, that would be the end of Imus. It would be.

CARLSON: I don‘t know. He could do a sports show.

ALTER: Come on, that‘s his show. So if you favor boycotting him, you favor the end of “Imus in the Morning.”

CARLSON: How about a middle ground?


CARLSON: -- your our own personal conscience doesn‘t allow you to participate in a racist enterprise.

ALTER: That is a boycott. That‘s saying—also, it buys into the idea that I am responsible for every stupid thing that you have said.

CARLSON: So what does going on say?

ALTER: You‘ve said some pretty stupid things. You haven‘t said any racist things that I know of. But you‘ve said some pretty appalling things.

CARLSON: On today‘s show.

ALTER: I don‘t want to have the responsibility to endorse or not endorse things that you said.

CARLSON: I understand. So, what is the message of—you say the message of not going on would be to boycott the show, and that‘s some how wrong. What‘s the message of going on the show?

ALTER: I think the message of going on the show, and if the subject comes up, what I will say the next time I go on the show, is that he does have to be called to account for this. And he has work to do. And he started that today, and he needs to continue it. I think it would—

CARLSON: What kind of work?

ALTER: Well, He needs to go and apologize to those young women directly.

CARLSON: That‘s enough?

ALTER: I don‘t know what‘s enough. I would we could argue about the work that he has to do. But what he said to them was just wrong and racist, and he needs to be called to account for that. The question is whether he deserves the professional death penalty for it and I don‘t believe he does.

CARLSON: Well, he is an older man who is extremely rich, so nobody‘s dying here.

ALTER: Again, the question is, is it the end of his career. Other people, they have seen—

CARLSON: It was the end of George Allen‘s career and nobody cared.

You know what I mean? Nobody cared.


ALTER: The George Allen comparison is facetious.


ALTER: I just said what Imus said is racist. You said that there was a double standard.


ALTER: Voting for them is not the same thing. That‘s a complicated judgment. The question is, should people have had to have boycott appearing with George Allen if they were politicians. I didn‘t call for that. I didn‘t say any Republican should be ashamed of going down and campaigning for George Allen. You didn‘t hear me say that or anybody else.

CARLSON: I did hear people say that, but OK—Richard, do you want to jump in here.


ALTER: I will go on the show, because I do not believe that even though I think what he said was disgusting and racist that I am responsible for everything that comes out of his mouth. And I don‘t think it‘s a moral issue, as it applies to me.

Well that explains it. Imus makes zillions of dollars for decades with his revolting, stomach churning swill because the establishment media have never felt they have any moral or civic stake in the consequences of such talk. The man is a bullying jerk of the highest order --- his ongoing schtick is crude, mean and nasty, almost always something puerile about somene's looks and physical characteristics, like "nappy headed", regardless who he and his little band of "comedians" are deriding. And his show adds nothing positive to the discourse even if he does have various insiders on to talk to each other and pimp their books --- and give him a veneer of respectability. Sure, you can pretend that just being on his show doesn't mean anything --- but it does to the people who are the object of his cruelty. Nobody's saying that you can't go on shows with people with whom you disagree. But when the media and political elite constantly appear with someone who makes a living demeaning others in the coarsest and most inflammatory ways and then laugh and yuk it up on the same show, they are, at the very least, endorsing the kind of show he does if not the specific statements.

If you ever wanted to see how the establishment media bubble is floating around way outside the everyday world in which the rest of us live, this is it.


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