Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CBS radio fires Imus

Don Imus is now without employment.

He's been fired by both his employers - CBS radio network and MSNBC-TV cable network.

I worked in radio and television. And people who work in those industries are fired *all the time.*

People who usually only guess how to make money for station owners are put in decision-making positions. They seem to feel free to fiddle with employees' lives in an attempt to find the new big thing to attract advertising dollars.

Media sales people are always trying to convince advertisers why they should spend money on their station, personality, music format, etc., whether or not it ever pays off for the advertiser.

Radio and TV folks can be canned for no other reason than the manager wants his/her pal to take the spot. Or the station management changes. Or the format changes. Or the program director is jealous of the news director/morning anchor who gets more attention than she does at parties. Seriously. Been there, done that, even when ratings were climbing.

The audience isn't given a second thought - nor are co-workers who may try to fight to keep the employee because they're good at what they do *and* the ratings are climbing.

Both screamed loudly and were definitely heard this time.

In addition to extraordinary anger expressed by his audience, the outrage of MSNBC employees is actually credited with Imus' ousting there.

I have to wonder why his co-workers and fellow broadcasters (who understand and are quite sensitive to how much it hurts for anyone to lose such a job) appeared to have so little respect or appreciation for this guy. If they did, he'd probably still be there because they would have fought for him. Instead they demanded his termination.

CBS surprised me because radio is known more for allowing more controversial, shockjocks and outrageous hosts, but apparently he went too far even for them. And what he said about the Rutgers women is not as bad as other racist and sexist comments he has made over the years.

I believe the deeper issue and our outrage don't have as much to do with Imus' comments - as odious as they were - as much as an overwhelming sense that hit the core of US sensibilities:

we are (FINALLY) fed up with people who have power abusing it.

We are tired of the cartels, governments and oil companies abusing us; charging more than $3.00/USD a gallon for gasoline.

We're tired of reading the death count daily of Americans, our allies and innocent Iraqi's being killed in a senseless war.

We're tired of "leaders" who are incapable of leading us, but only exploit us.

We're tired of a president and government who don't listen to us when we tell them specifically and directly invading Iraq was a mistake.

We're tired of "leaders" incapable of figuring out how to bring our troops home safely.

We're tired of "leaders" neglecting the institutions and cutting the staffs that care for our valiant men and women in uniform when they come back mutilated, wounded, and suffering mental problems that any normal person would after witnessing what they have.

We're tired of "leaders" who can't seem to figure out how to get us from point A to point B without being trapped in traffic congestion, but who continue to tax us to supposedly take care of these problems.

We're tired of listening to so many people pay lip service to erradicating racism and sexism while powerful people of all colors and genders in the entertainment industry - music, TV, radio, magazines, and the internet - demonstrate bigotry daily.

We're tired of the hate speeches from "leaders" who want only to manipulate us by calling us "unAmerican" or "betraying the troops" if we say we want them brought home soon - alive and well.

After making our desires clearly known in the last election, after being lied to and hurt over and over again by powerful people in business, religion, health care and government who abuse their power and only continue to ignore us?

We're tired of media who went from being the president's abused lap dog to suddenly realizing that he has been lying to us all along; that features "news talk shows" only featuring biased people who want media attention more than they do to find or tell the truth.

We are left now with few ways to express our outrage, our demand for justice, our need to be heard, in a loud and meaningful way.

Yep, we are effing fed up.

Don Imus just got in the way.

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Imus canned by MSNBC

Despite a long record of letting his mouth be a foot receptor for sexist and racist remarks, MSNBC kept him on the air.

Why did this particular verbal offense make such a difference to so many - creating a landslide of reverberation loud enough to get him tossed out of his TV gig?

Before, his words slighted, insulted and demeaned adults who put themselves out for public appraisal - professional athletes (he once actually swore that he would stop referring to black athletes' simian qualities), politicians, entertainers, journalists.

This time, he degraded kids.


Innocent kids on a school team who had no intention of becoming individual public figures who are in a position to fight back; who have the opportunity to have individual media exposure to respond.

Kids who had sacrificed a lot and worked very hard to improve themselves and their game - some of whom are good enough to earn scholarships just to play.

Teen-age girls, mostly, who were just trying their best - and succeeding - to play championship college basketball.

Thus far, CBS radio says it will continue to carry his program after his two week suspension.

Radio has a history of being more apt to carry programs with outlandish shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh (who didn't last long at all on television when he gave it a crack) and Howard Stern.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus: "I need to grow up"

Two days after commenting on the final game of the women's NCAA basketball tournament between Rutgers and Tennessee (The Lady Vols won), radio and TV talk show host Don Imus admitted he did something wrong.

When talking about the nation's top two women's basketball teams duking it out for the championship - he overlooked their skills and abilities, which got them college scholarships for bringing their talent and gift of athleticism to each school, not to mention the the sacrifice and dedication of the women to their sport and academic achievements.

It was clear he had no respect for them as people, as women or as athletes, let alone champions.

For some reason, Imus felt compelled to evaluate the Rutgers women.

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they've got tattoos." he said.

His executive producer Bernard McGuirk added, "Some hard-core ho's."

Imus concluded, "That's some nappy-headed ho's there. I'm going to tell you that now."

To say Rutgers - and the world - were shocked by his bigoted, hurtful, degrading and infantile remarks is an understatement.

A tsunami of outrage poured in from even the most reasoned, docile sports fan and listener. They refused to sit by and tolerate the verbal atrocity.

I have a feeling perhaps the person most amazed by the response is Don Imus himself.

I've heard him defended by people who said we should remember him for his 40 years of work rather than this one absusive racist, sexist incident.

If it had been just this one incident?

I would say right. Destructive speech like this is a good lesson for everyone because of all the discussion it creates, and therefore education it brings about.

I'm all for the First Amendment and freedom of speech and don't want to see people fired for a single speech offense - even though several media personalities have been terminated in the past for saying much less offensive things.

But it wasn't just this one incident.

I won't repeat them on my blog because they are grieviously offensive - but this linked Chicago Sun-Times column by Jesse Jackson does. And after discovering all the other times Imus and his executive producer have said outrageously cruel racist and sexist comments over the years?

I say enough.

After apologizing many times, including on Al Sharpton's radio program, it's reported that Imus critics don't believe he understands why people are so angry at him - he's more concerned that he became the target of such volatile anger.

"I'm a good person," he has repeated, "who said a very bad thing."

But reports of his past extreme offenses over the years reveals a pattern of belief and behavior for which he has never done more than apologize - and apparently insincerely because he continued to do the same thing over again.

Imus has been suspended from his CBS radio/MSNBC-TV simulcast talk show for two weeks beginning this coming Monday. But indeed, CBS and MSNBC are partly to blame for not taking action much earlier, since his pattern of behavior has been established much earlier than this.

He says that the content of his show will be redirected because of this lesson. The question is whether his audience willingly listens to such things, and the audience has spoken loudly.

My problem is that he's had a million chances to change after being caught all the other times when he claimed he *knew* he said something "bad" then went on to continue to say things similar and worse.

Further it took him TWO DAYS to apologize for his comments - apparently having no idea after he said them that he had done something hideously wrong.

The only way his program will change is for him to go through the painful metamorphasis we all have to in order to deal with any bigoted ideas, beliefs and actions we've held in the past or may currently harbor.

Unfortunately, media usually totally screw this sort of dilemma up with their programming solutions.

They suddenly feature as guests a rash of visible minorities, gender/racial bias activists or politicians who want to make points by proclaiming their anti-racist, anti-sexist points of view or others whose rap we not only know but aren't really interested to hear again.

The program loses the personality of the host, which is why people tune in.

The whole point of redemption is to keep on doing his program "his way," but without racist, sexist comments. The question is whether "his way" necessarily includes racist or sexist comments.

He said it himself: "I have to grow up."

Again, the question is why he waited until he is 66 years old to decide to deal with his maturity.

Meanwhile, I'm sure one person laughing at all this falderal, someone who gets away with needlessly cruel, abusive, negative, racist and sexist remarks all the time is master lout and former drug addict Rush Limbaugh.

As odious as this man's words are, no one's talking about pulling his chain or his microphone plug.

Maybe that's because fewer people are listening.

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