Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus Blowup An Example Of Media Egocentrism

I've been reading about this Don Imus blowup nonstop in the last 48 hours as the major story for every national news organization.

And I'm sick of it. (And I'm a journalist!)

For those unfamiliar, here's the summary, courtesy of the latest CNN lede:

MSNBC and CBS Radio are suspending Don Imus for two weeks after the host described the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," the networks announced Monday.

(For context, Imus is a radio host who is often called out for misogyny, racism and homophobia and once called media critic Howard Kurtz a "boner-nosed, beanie-wearing Jew-boy.")

Of course, all this was paired with an image of Imus's flowing, gray locks and his haggard, Dirty Harry face.

So, tell me, then -- why do we care about this?

Whether you like him or not -- and I'm sure he's polarizing enough to make up your mind -- Imus is just another example of a strong voice on the radio. He's not even the most popular: 14th most popular, I read yesterday in The Times. So why do we care?

Because the press cares. Because Don Imus is the press. And the press have turned it into a witchhunt to protect their own reputation.

Rush Limbaugh talks shit all the time. In fact, it's his trademark. And though he ruffles quite a few feathers, he stays on the air. He actually revels in the controversy. So what's the big deal?

First, let me be perfectly clear: I am completely, 100 percent against racist, sexist, and other types of hate speech and/or references. I find such comments to be ignorant, despicable and saddening.

But the cantankerous Imus made the press feel threatened. He attitude was vindictive, and the press didn't like it. So they waited until he slipped up on the air, and socked it to 'em.

Problem is, most of America don't know who Don Imus is. And they certainly don't know his guests, which frequently are of the media elite.

So why the hell is it on the front page of the news? Did fellow shock jocks Opie and Anthony make the front page when they got canned? (No. Those young whippersnappers are just foulmouthed miscreants, the press says) But Don Imus is under pressure.

The fact that this comes right after the whole Tribune sale is further proof that the media can't stop covering itself. Sure, it's tempting -- after all, it's easy to get information when you're the source -- but the rest of America doesn't care. And isn't the press supposed to be writing for its readers?

The press needs to leave this cowboy in his own personal hell of a ruined reputation and start looking at itself.


Caramelmoiselle said...

Your blog is very interesting to read, but I am confused as to your exact point in this post. Are you saying that as a cover for all of the other media indiscretions, Imus is being targetted?

I agree that it is being blown out of proportion. Limbaugh should go well before Imus. Infact I can't stand either of them.

The Editorialiste said...

@caramelmoiselle: First, fabulous name. To answer your question, the point of this post is summed up in the subject/headline: This blowup over the Imus thing is just one more example of how the media loves to cover itself. Right or wrong, this kind of offhand stuff happens all the time - so why is it the lead story everywhere for days? It's not like Cheney said it. Is it because the Rutgers team was doing so well? I don't know. But all this hoopla indicates to me, at least, that the media just loves covering itself - to the point where it leaves its readers in the dust. Many Americans can say, yes, I think he's out of line, but how many people knew who he was before the press told him "this is an important story"? I think it's an example of how the press has the ability to set the public agenda, and in this case, how that power is not being used for the best of reasons (why do we care about Imus this much?).

If you're still confused, I must not have written clearly enough. I'll try to be more clear next time!

All the best and thanks for reading,
The Editorialiste.

Jenn said...

My dad loves Imus so he's really sad about this whole thing. He's listened to him for like thirty years. I personally think he's a douche but this is being blown way out of proportion. My dad will have to find a new cantankerous provocative radio douche.

Neil said...

I'm a big fan of how many times Jenn said "douche."