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Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:06 PM

If Your Imus Obituary Suggests That He Only Stepped Over The Line Once, You Got It Wrong

If Your Imus Obituary Suggests That He Only Stepped Over The Line Once, You Got It Wrong

If you're going to write an obituary of Don Imus, do a better job than AP did.

By Steve M.

I returned from the holidays to obituaries of a man who's been the subject of many posts here over the years. If you're going to write an obituary of Don Imus, do a better job than AP did:

Disc jockey Don Imus, whose career was made and then undone by his acid tongue during a decades-long rise to radio stardom and an abrupt public plunge after a nationally broadcast racial slur, has died. He was 79....

Imus survived drug and alcohol woes, a raunchy appearance before President Clinton and several firings during his long career behind the microphone. But he was vilified and eventually fired after describing a women's college basketball team as "nappy headed hos."

His April 2007 racist and misogynist crack about the mostly black Rutgers squad, an oft-replayed 10-second snippet, crossed a line that Imus had long straddled as his rants catapulted him to prominence.

No, Imus hadn't previously "straddled" a line that he then, in a weak moment, crossed once. He'd crossed that line habitually. When he said "nappy-headed hos," the public finally responded with an appropriate level of disgust.

<snip>

“That’s some rough girls from Rutgers,” Mr. Imus said on Wednesday. “Man, they got tattoos ...” The program’s executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, agreed: “Some hardcore ho’s,” he said. Imus continued, “That’s some nappy-headed ho’s there, I’m going to tell you that.”

Apologists tried to blame rap music for Imus's comments. Here was Earl Ofari Hutchinson in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

... gangster rappers, some black filmmakers, and comedians routinely reduce young black women to "stuff," "bitches" and "hoes." Their contempt reinforces the slut image of black women and sends the message that violence, mistreatment and verbal abuse of black women are socially acceptable.

...Now enter shock-jock Don Imus, the latest white guy to be transformed into a racially and gender-incorrect punching bag.... He, of course, has been verbally mugged, battered and abused....

<snip>

Except that -- as I noted at the time -- Imus had been talking like this for years. I wrote about an Imus comedy album released in 1974, more than a decade before the rise of gangsta rap.

A sample joke:

... Newark mayor Kenneth "King Kong" Gibson has announced the nomination of the city's first Hispanic municipal court judge and the first black woman to fill a second vacancy on the court. Judge Guillermo Alfredo Espanata Ortega Ortez Astellego Jijuete Chingao will assume his duties as quickly as he can get his car started and get to court. The other new judge, thirty-year-old Rebecca Golin Johnson Lincoln Jefferson, will assume her duties as soon as she, in her own words, "gets damn good and fuckin' ready, honky!"

... Elsewhere on the album, blacks inevitably drive Cadillac Eldorados and make lots of noise during sex; Jews sell jewelry and cheat people (but Jewish women are good at oral sex); Poles are stupid and inordinately fond of bowling. ("Polish jokes" were a staple of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In a few years earlier, but they fell out of favor; Imus was apparently the last person on the planet doing them.) White people are uptight, and white women in particular don't enjoy sex very much.

<snip>

I guess Rich was unaware of one of Imus's most notorious bits, "Black Beatles," which wasn't aimed at famous people at all, but included every stereotype of ordinary black people Imus could squeeze into it. I won't link to it -- you can find it on YouTube -- but I posted a partial transcript a few days after the Rutgers incident:

IMUS: Some of you may know, who listen to the Imus in the Morning program on a regular basis, there is a new group being formed called the Black Beatles.

BLACK BEATLES MEMBER (in a stereotypical black accent): That's right, Don. My name is Tyrone McCartney...

IMUS: Uh-huh.

TYRONE McCARTNEY: ... bass player for the fabulous Black Beatles, and me and my friends Leroy Lennon, George Jellybean Darnell Rashad Mustafa Muhammad Harrison, and Bingo Starr, we have a new album out of our very famous #1 hits called Beat the Meatles.
IMUS: What's that?

TYRONE McCARTNEY: Beat the Meatles. We wanted y'all to get it 'cause it's got some of our famous #1 hits, like this one: (singing) "When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary come to me and speak those woids of wisdom, 'What it be.'"

And how 'bout this one? (singing) "I shoulda known better with a bitch like you." "Jo Jo was a man who only had three inches, but he knew it wouldn't last, Jo Jo never had much luck with all the bitches, but I said, 'Hey, Jo, get black. Get black, get black, get black and watch your johnson grow.'" "Lucy in the sky with a lot of jewelry on." "Strawberry-flavored malt liquor." "Here come my son, he play football. Here come my son, and I say, 'He bad.'" "I'm back on the old FDR." "Yesterday, my parole came through just yesterday." "Hey dude, lend me a dollar." "I can play center, I can play forward, I be six foot four."

And, of course, my personal favorite: (singing) "We all live in a yellow Coupe de Ville, a yellow Coupe de Ville, a yellow Coupe de Ville. And my friends is all aboard, many more of them is in the trunk, vinyl tires with wire wheels, in my yellow Coupe de Ville."

Imus didn't think he limited his racist attacks to famous people. In May 2000, he and Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page mocked his racism:

CLARENCE PAGE: Are you raising your hand, right?

DON IMUS: I have it up.

CLARENCE PAGE: Okay. Okay, number one -- I, Don Imus--

DON IMUS: I, Don Imus--

CLARENCE PAGE: -- do solemnly swear--

DON IMUS: Do solemnly swear--

CLARENCE PAGE: -- that I will promise to cease all simian references black athletes--

DON IMUS: That I will promise to cease all simian references to back--black athletes--

CLARENCE PAGE: -- a ban on all references to non-criminal blacks as thugs, pimps, muggers and Colt 45 drinkers--

DON IMUS: I promise to do that.

CLARENCE PAGE: Very good! How about an end to Amos 'n Andy cuts, comparison of New York City to Mogadishu, and all parodies of black voices unless they are done by a black person, cause you're really not very good at it.

Imus knew he was doing this, so it was fine, right?

Politicians and journalists appeared on his show despite all this. Regular guests included Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. They seemed to believe that there was a perceptible wall between his racist remarks and his political talk.

<snip>

23 replies, 1211 views

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply If Your Imus Obituary Suggests That He Only Stepped Over The Line Once, You Got It Wrong (Original post)
marble falls Dec 28 OP
no_hypocrisy Dec 28 #1
marble falls Dec 28 #2
Hortensis Dec 28 #3
malaise Dec 28 #8
Hortensis Dec 28 #16
kskiska Dec 28 #17
Hortensis Dec 28 #19
kskiska Dec 28 #23
malaise Dec 28 #18
Hoyt Dec 28 #15
Hortensis Dec 28 #20
CaptYossarian Dec 28 #4
marble falls Dec 28 #5
CaptYossarian Dec 28 #7
marble falls Dec 28 #9
InAbLuEsTaTe Dec 28 #6
marble falls Dec 28 #11
InAbLuEsTaTe Dec 28 #13
CaptYossarian Dec 28 #14
elleng Dec 28 #10
marble falls Dec 28 #12
UTUSN Dec 28 #21
WhiskeyGrinder Dec 28 #22

Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:16 PM

1. And has everyone forgotten his takedown of Bill Clinton during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:22 PM

2. Didn't forget it, it still pisses me off. Thanks for the link, I'll watch it again.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:22 PM

3. His whole shock-jock schtick was over the line. He'd pretend to be

an ignorant and bigoted RWer, or whatever-er. His guests, who included some very respected people (Doris Kearns-Goodwin was on often), would explain why he was wrong, and he'd grumpily admit that maybe there was something to it. Wash, rinse, repeat each night. Pushing the line constantly, but constantly without the malice or nastiness of the small-minded and/or racist attitudes he attempted to enlighten.

I used to see his show at 10:30 only because it preceded Nightline, back in the days when Nightline was worth watching. The "woolly-headed" remark wasn't the only one around then that could be taken as waaay over the line; I heard it and was concerned about his carelessness. Oh, well.

He took harsher digs at himself than anyone/everyone else, every night, and that egalitarian-insulting approach was the context. His show attempted to enlighten the ignorance that fosters bigotry no matter how he's portrayed. Imo, those who silenced him should not be quite so proud of that, even if they still feel it was for the best.

RIP, Imus.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:52 PM

8. The worst part was that the producers of the program

encouraged it.

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Response to malaise (Reply #8)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 04:40 PM

16. What was the name of the guy in the show that was

taken off the air before Imus's show was created? An even more bizarre runup to Ted Koppel's Nightline.

The conservative brute of a host would stride around a open floor surrounded by audience, grab and kiss a couple of women in a symbolic rape, then verbally eviscerate some nerd chosen for his scrawny build and inability to express his liberal ideology coherently.

I believe that obnoxious jerk crashed pretty badly after his brief time with his own show. ?

In any case, I'm guessing Imus's not-so-secret moderate decency and good sense in a shock-jock package was the producers' attempt to serve the same audience far more responsibly. Imus moved to a show on an agricultural network. I watched a bit a couple times while scrolling past, a sad comedown, but Kearns Goodwin was appearing on one of them. Nice.

Doris Kearns Goodwin: Empathy Is An "Essential Leadership Quality"

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #16)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 05:09 PM

17. Morton Downey, Jr.

"Step up to the loudmouth."

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Response to kskiska (Reply #17)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 05:20 PM

19. That's him. I can only wonder at the 9 or 9:30 series

that gathered an audience the network used him to try to keep tuned. You didn't see people like Tim Russert or presidential historians Goodwin on this show.



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Response to Hortensis (Reply #19)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 06:35 PM

23. Before him, if you're old enough to remember,

There was Alan Burke and Joe Pyne who used to have off-beat guests, some of whom had claimed to have been taken aboard flying saucers, and others who espoused various conspiracy theories, or beliefs. The hosts often attacked them, which made for great fun. I think they were on Channel 5 WNEW in the NYC area.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #16)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 05:16 PM

18. Wow!

It's all a money making circus to the owners and their producers. Happy Holidays

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 04:03 PM

15. Didn't watch often. So, was never sure whether he was a white wing racist, or mocking

ignorance and racism. Might of watched more if I had been sure of the latter. I know he helped a lot of kids.

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Response to Hoyt (Reply #15)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 05:26 PM

20. I wouldn't have watched and known either if I

wasn't waiting for Nightline. In those days of course you couldn't set shows to record, and I never listened to his radio shows before or after. But he reached some people with messages they needed, and apparently were couched in ways they'd listen to.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:24 PM

4. Are you sure it was a comedy album? Comedy implies that something is funny.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:36 PM

5. I was under that illusion myself. "That Honky's Nuts" is singularly unfunny.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:51 PM

7. I think his target audience now wears stupid red MAGA caps.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:56 PM

9. Not a doubt in my mind. I don't think he was making fun of bigots ...

as some claim. I think he was a major bigot for real.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:47 PM

6. You're SO right, and Howard Stern is EVEN WORSE...why would ANY politician have gone on either show

and give these pricks credibility after they've established themselves as racist, misogynist assholes?! I think I already know the answer/excuse, so no need to respond... unless you really feel the need.


Bernie/Elizabeth or Elizabeth/Bernie 2020!!
Either way, they're stronger together & can't be bought!!
Jump on the Bernie Bandwagon & join the revolution!!

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Response to InAbLuEsTaTe (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 02:59 PM

11. I have friends who think Stern is the funniest thing walking, all I ...

see is someone who gets off saying outrageous crap about guests that are as likely to be pathetic as to be celebrities.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #11)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 03:51 PM

13. There's nothin funny said by a racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot...shame on anyone who props him up.

Yes, what you said bout most of Stern's guests.


Bernie/Elizabeth or Elizabeth/Bernie 2020!!
Either way, they're stronger together & can't be bought!!
Jump on the Bernie Bandwagon & join the revolution!!

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Response to InAbLuEsTaTe (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 03:59 PM

14. One night on Bob Costas' old talk show, Tom Snyder filled in.

The mild-mannered Snyder called guest Howard Stern a punk and chased him off the stage.

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Response to elleng (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 03:01 PM

12. She said it straight and I like how she put Tim Russert and David Brooks ...

on the spot.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 05:39 PM

21. K&R for, *I'm* dancing, despite the speak-no-ill crowd.

To the latter I say, no the crap done isn't over with the perpetrator's death. That's what everybody else has to live with when the perpetrator is gone. That's why the slate ain't wiped clean.






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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2019, 05:59 PM

22. Fuck Don Imus and his apologists.

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