Saturday, April 14, 2007

Imus... Out

I guess I'm just a little bit surprised that CBS fired Don Imus. Not because he didn't deserve to be. And not because most other companies wouldn't have done the same.

But having worked for CBS Radio myself, I've just never felt the corporate office was one that allowed principle to trump money interests. And, of course, maybe it didn't. My gut tells me an autonomous CBS Radio would never have fired Imus. The radio division has been a poor performer since well before Howard Stern left the building. And after an extremely tough year following Stern's exit, the last thing CBS Radio needed was to lose its other franchise talent. No, I think it took CBS proper, the parent, to read the political winds properly and to conclude that Imus had become dead weight--that it wasn't worth diverting the company's resources to his defense.

But back to the broader Imus story: Of the many postmortems I've come across, I think Andrew Sullivan's
best sums up the crime:

The culture has changed since Imus started in radio. White straight men don't control everything any more, and they don't get to set the rules for public discourse with the same finality they once did. What we've seen here is, I think, a genuine reflection of the new American mainstream. Most Americans simply find the spectacle of a rich white bigot beating up on young black female achievers after a crushing tournament loss to be gratuitously cruel and unfair. Punishing someone for calling college women "whores" - especially those who have beaten the odds and are role models for other black girls and women - is not a new step in political correctness. It's applying a very old American standard of fairness and decency, which now applies to all Americans, regardless of race or gender. This was the voice of mainstream America speaking. It's not what it once was. I wonder whether many of Imus's buddies realize that yet.

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