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Friday, April 13, 2007
(8:49 PM) | Stephen:
Imus And O'Donnell

So just now I hear about the Rosie O'Donnell thing (in the comments of that post). Of course, it's because Tom DeLay, in his continuing desperate attempts to remain relevant, has penned a column for TownHall.com saying, "If the Left Takes Imus, We’ll Take Rosie."

How predictable for someone like DeLay to reduce this to a competition between "us" and "them." Contrary to what he wants to believe, I'm pretty sure that there's all sorts of Republicans who were part of the decisions to pull advertising from Imus' show, cancel his MSNBC simulcast and ultimately fire him from CBS radio. While it was generally progressives that made the stink, the issue is not "right" vs "left." If that were the case, then conservatives in this country would need to acknowledge that they are just fine with racism. I'd like to think that most conservatives don't want to be represented by racists.

Regarding what O'Donnnell said, which I'll get to in a moment, the main reason that her remarks did not provoke the reaction that Imus did is the simple fact that she is not nearly as important as Imus was. Imus in the Morning was able to shape countless columns, editorials and cable news shows around the country. It saw a parade of politicians of both parties and did for books from DC elites what Oprah does for any other book. Imus shaped our nation's discourse; O'Donnell is one of the hosts on a talk show, an extremely minor movie actor, what else? She does a cruise, right? It's the same reason why people are not as united against various rappers the way they were against Imus. They don't fill the same role in society. However, I certainly don't buy those albums.

And that's all that happened with Imus. His advertisers and ultimately his corporate sponsors decided that he had become a financial liability. No one asked the government to get involved - unlike, say, the various campaigns to induce the FCC to "do something" about Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction or any show that has a gay character.

Perhaps most telling is how those who defend Imus by attacking rappers or Rosie O'Donnell in order to point out lefty "hypocrisy" only display their own. After all, Tom DeLay is hardly known for his longtime campaigns against rappers and O'Donnell. Neither is Jason Whitlock, a Kansas City Star columnist who, I can assure you, is far more interested in career advancement than anything that Imus, 50 Cent or anyone else has ever said.

As far as Rosie's comments themselves,
she apparently said, regarding an incident on The View with a drunk Danny DeVito,
The fact is that it's news all over the world. You know, you can imagine in China it's like, 'Ching chong, ching chong, Danny DeVito, ching chong chong chong chong, drunk, The View, ching chong.
When I first saw that, I just stared at it. It infuriates me to see that this type of ignorant thinking still exists, let alone that someone on a national TV show would display it. That not one of her co-hosts thought to chastise her, that the audience apparently reacted with laughter and cheers is disgusting.

So I actually agree with Tom DeLay and other conservative bloggers, at least to a certain extent. I really don't know if O'Donnell has a history of making such comments, which is really the problem that people had with Imus, along with how much real-world influence the guy had. But even if O'Donnell has made a habit of saying such things, DeLay and the rest making a big deal about her right now have shown by their silence until this point that such remarks really don't bother them. All they want is a scalp, a trophy to convince them that they have power over the media, that they can decide such things.

For me, the issue is making sure that people experience real consequences for fomenting and perpetuating a culture that is suffused with bigotry and hate. There's no need for a witch hunt, we don't need to go around turning over rocks and searching through everybody's archives to see if they've ever said anything that could possibly be construed as racist. That's what these conservatives want to do so that people will think that was the case with Imus. Thing is, there's enough out-of-control, vicious and repugnant vitriol filling rightwing talk radio, blogs and cable news shows to keep us all busy for a long time to come.

PS - isn't it sad that Diedre Imus felt the need to implore her husband's former listeners to stop sending hate mail to the Rutgers women's basketball team? I actually doubt that most of the emails in question are coming from people who listened to the show. Whenever a controversy like this comes up, people involved get disgusting emails. Often they're from people who don't even really understand what the issues are.

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