They Were Warned

by digby

As the media elite and various political insiders continue to behave as if they've just been hit over the head with a cudgel on this Imus matter, perhaps they should wake up and recognize that there have been people out there noticing the raw hypocrisy among this Imus Elite for years. And this does not just come from the more recent bloviating by scruffy bloggers in their deplorable "efficiency" apartments.

There have always been a handful of columnists and journalists who got it. And no one got it better than the late Lars Erik Nelson:

Daily News (New York)

September 22, 1995, Friday



SECTION: Editorial Pg. 41

LENGTH: 583 words

Washington Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) came to the Senate floor with
a look of sad concern on his face. He was deeply troubled, he said, at the vulgar, morally repugnant content of the new TV season. "We are lowering the standards of what is acceptable in our society and we are sending a message to our children," he said. He denounced an "acceptance of rude language, foul imagery and gross behavior in the entertainment mainstream."

Then, warning parents who might be watching on C-SPAN to move their little children away from the TV sets, Lieberman cited a few of the outrages: On ABC's "Wilde Again," a character asks to be called "Daddy's little whore." Another ABC program showed an upraised middle finger. CBS' "Bless This House" used the phrase "little hooters" in reference to a girl's breasts. "Profoundly disturbing," Lieberman intoned. "Sophomoric."

Funny thing: The previous morning, Lieberman had been a guest, as is his regular custom, on the Don Imus radio show on WFAN, a program that seems to get the bulk of its yuks from penis references.

If you have never heard the Imus show, listen in. It is a cross between an endless infomercial and a bunch of 8-year-olds telling doo-doo jokes into a tape recorder. It is rescued only by increasingly rare moments of inspired, hilarious brilliance.

Tune in any morning and you'll hear Imus or one of his sidekicks joking about having "lipstick on the dipstick" and much worse. This is nationwide morning radio.

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.

You can't blame Imus for being what he is. He even serves the positive purpose of making current events entertaining. His parodies only make sense if you have been paying attention to the world around you.

But for Lieberman there is no excuse. One moment he joins the sniggering on Imus, the next he's on the Senate floor as the pious defender of family virtue against encroaching vulgarity.

By all means, Lieberman, Bradley, Dole and the rest should go on Imus. But if they do, spare us the sanctimonious sermons about the vulgarity of modern broadcasting.

They never stopped. in fact three years later Lieberman took to the floor of the Senate and "helped" Bill Clinton by saying to the whole world that he was immoral. All of these moral scolds, but most especially Lieberman, are rank hypocrites.

I do not want to hear another word from these people about civility, rudeness and the decline of the discourse. And I certainly don't want to hear any more BS about blogging ethics and good manners on the internet from any of them. For more than a decade we had to endure lectures from many of these people about "values" and more recently we've had to listen to them call for the smelling salts over the degradation of the public square from the barbaric polloi. Yet throughout they loved to hang around with that overgrown adolescent and let him sell their books for him when he wasn't cruelly disparaging everything in his sights, including them. If those are the decent values Joe Lieberman has been braying about incessantly for the last decade, he certainly got what what he was looking for.

And might I also add that this whining about rappers is pretty much the same thing? I know it's been a long time since these guys were kids, but didn't their mothers tell them that just because some of their schoolmates jump off a bridge it doesn't mean they should do it too?

Or as Joan Walsh pithily remarked:

I hate the misogyny of some rap music -- it's not all misogynistic -- but rappers didn't invent sick notions of black women as sexual objects in America; those ideas have an old, old history here, going back to the days when the chains black men wore weren't bling. As I said to Scarborough and Ridley, when we have "Snoop Dogg Country" on MSNBC, and Young Jeezy's doing the morning drive-time show instead of Imus, then let's talk about how rappers deserve the outrage Imus brought on himself. In my opinion, hundreds of years of the racist misogyny of white men like Imus and McGuirk are far more responsible for misogynistic rap music than the reverse. And as I type this I'm thinking, is that even up for debate? Fellas, please.

H/T to PN. Thank you.