Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

THE SILENCING OF IMUS

Censorship from corporate timidity in the face of economic
boycotts is just as dangerous as the stifling of creative and
artistic expression by government fiat, decree, sanction, or
regulation. Here is our commentary from April 16, 2007.

Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Bob Grant, Bill Maher, Chris Rock, George Lopez, and even—God forbid!—Rosie. We’ve always had terrible examples to defend. And Don Imus has given us another stellar example. But defend it we must.

Not the hateful and discomfiting words. But the right of the social commentator to be heard, and the right of the people to decide.

Don Imus is a performer, a disc jockey, a humorist, and a provocateur with a rapier-sharp wit. Unlike many of our colleagues, he avoids raucous vulgarity or incendiary right-wing rhetoric directed at immigrants, illegal aliens, and other familiar targets of our tribe.

Throughout his brilliant career, Mr. Imus has been an equalopportunity offender, poking fun at the high and mighty as well as at the rest of us for our foibles and pomposity. He may have occasionally gone too far. Were his comments about the Rutgers basketball team racist or mean-spirited? Only Imus knows for sure, but we doubt it. Were they funny? No.

His mea culpa and apologies seemed sincere. We had thus hoped his sponsors and the executives at CBS, WFAN, MSNBC, and all those local affiliates across the country would stand up to the pressure and continue to carry the I-Man.

So many successful performers take and put nothing back. Imus has been extravagantly generous to a number of worthy causes, often without fanfare.

Imus claims he’s been active in our profession for 30 years— actually, it’s closer to 40 since he came roaring out of Cleveland. By our calculation, that’s about 8,000 broadcasts, with some 2,400,000 ad libs. Admittedly, none as insensitive as his reference to the Rutgers team.

-3-

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