Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Contributing to the Chaos

As I sit here in the Queen City of the Golden Apple, I sometimes think of Bill O’Shaughessy, the owner and on-air personality at WVOX (“vox populi”) in New Rochelle. For that, to hear my friends tell it is how Mr. O’Shaughnessy refers to “New Ro.” I’ve never met him, but have read and heard quite a but about him. Regardless, Bill O’Shaughessy, he of the ego the size of which matches the size of New Rochelle itself, was quoted in The Journal News today as saying would not have suspended Don Imus, as the firestorm continues.

"Imus misfired, there's no question about it," said O'Shaughnessy, the president and CEO of Whitney Radio, which owns WVOX (1460 AM) in New Rochelle. "But should Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton be threatening his livelihood? I don't think so."

I must admit that I initially bristled as I read the article, figuring that Mr. O’Shauhnessy, along with countless others who have lined up to criticize Imus, would take him down also. It seems that nobody has the guts to come out and say that this is a witch hunt. Those paragons of brilliance at ESPN Radio, Mike and Mike in the morning, went so far as to say that what’s great about this is society is deciding. You know, the court of public opinion.

Say what?

To be specific, it was Mike Greenberg who said this, and I’ll be the first to say that he’s just another in a long line of clowns that baffle me as to how he got his job in the first place. But there he was, and it astounded me to the point that I tried to dial into their show, to no avail. Al Shaprton, along with Jesse Jackson, and the media as a whole has been telling the court of public opinion how to react. Glad to see that they got to Mike and Mike and properly brainwashed them. Let’s ask the question to these men, and all of the other hypocrites. Did you react like this when you first heard the comments, or after the storm began to build? You know, because you were SUPPOSED to be upset by the comments, otherwise, you should be condemned as well. Because if you weren’t offended at first, then you are just feigning outrage.

Then all credibility was lost when Stuart Scott appeared with these two jokers and said that, despite his apology, that Don Imus really meant these words; they’re in his heart. Oh, thanks Stu. Glad to see you know so much about the topic. BOOYAH, you jackass.

I was gone.

Now let’s talk about the young women on the Rutgers team. I heard their press conference yesterday, and admire them for willing to meet with Imus, at an undisclosed time and location. I think that is extremely mature of them, especially after reading that one of the young girls’ mothers wouldn’t accept the apology. Clearly her daughter has more decency than she does. That’s where I wonder about a lot of this outrage, and where it’s coming from. I’ve met plenty of 17 and 18 year-old athletes in both high school and college. They don’t care the first thing about what some idiot in the media is saying about them. They care about their coaches, their teammates, their opponents, and their personal responsibilities. It’s only after their parents (or Al Shapton) or the media tell them that they should be angry that something comes of it.

It goes back to the concept of “Oh, Snap!” Maybe you remember that from the 90’s when these comedians (black, by the way) would hurl insults and end the line with “Oh, snap!” That’s where the sticks and stones, and the overwhelming sensitivity of society come in to play. Imus’s comment was idiotic (along with Bernard McGuirk, who’s getting off easy, if you ask me) but was nothing more than a street slang comment. If Chris Rock had said it? No biggie – then it’s a comedy bit by a black comedian. Once again though, let me be clear - all of this is no excuse.

Oh, and before I finish with the Rutgers team, let me just say this. The idea that they are a group of PRIVATE women is ludicrous. We know how college athletics is in 2007 – it’s a big business. The minute you hit the hardwood and your games are on ESPN and so on, you’re now public. Now they are not public to the extent that, say, Imus is, but they still have some notoriety, and a responsibility to uphold an image for Rutgers. I’m not implying that they haven’t done so. They seem to be extremely honorable women who are going to have very productive lives. Their efforts in the NCAA tournament were wonderful, and their grace in this situation is remarkable.

Everybody seems to have a dog in this fight, and I’d love to be as perfect as those who are holding Imus in contempt because they’ve clearly never said or done anything bad. Whoopi Goldberg condemned Imus before she was asked about the Ted Danson blackface thing from years ago. She ended the interview immediately. Yes, there have been sponsors dropping off, and that is their right. Bigelow tea, Staples, Proctor and Glamble. My right is to then make sure that they don’t get my business, right? And what of the guests? Already Cal Ripken Jr – who had never been on the Imus show – cancelled his appearance. I have no issue with this, but I’m also not going to make him into a hero for it. I would have had more respect for him if he had appeared on the show, and maybe one day he will, but no harm either way. Instead I’m more impressed by those who have rallied, as I suggested the other day that they should. Senator John McCain has already said he’ll be on the show. Mike Barnicle and Jeff Greenfield were on. Rudy Guiliani supports him. Bill Maher and James Carville do the same. These people all showed their willingness to forgive – another thing we seem to have forgotten how to do. There are so many other things worth getting upset about.

I can’t tell you who else has been on the show because frankly I haven’t been listening to every minute, since this topic is sickening me (yet here I am writing about it again). On the Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio, Spike Lee appeared initially to correct some of the rhetoric being used. Part of the comments from Bernard McGuirk were lifted from Lee’s move, School Daze. Lee wanted no part of that and in the process said that the entire Imus show should be fired. He also said that it will be interesting to see who appears on the show going forward. He bet Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton would not appear.

OK, I’m going to speak s-l-o-w-l-y for you, Spike. Just last Friday, Don Imus told Donald Trump that Hillary Rodham Clinton will never…let’s repeat…never be on the Imus in the Morning Program. That’s not jive; he’s been saying that for probably 10 years or more. Mrs. Clinton said she would never go on the show after this. Listen up – Satan! You were NEVER going to be invited in the first place, even though that man played a huge role in you’re being in public office, and that is a point that you would be stupid to deny.

Again, what this proves is that most people don’t know the deal. Those who listen to the show get it. Writers like Bob Raissmann, Filip Bondy and Lisa Olson in the New York Daily News are complete hypocrites. What the hell do they know? Yet there they are, jumping on the bandwagon because they think it’s the right thing to do. God forbid any of these people have an original thought or dare to go against the masses. The Daily News, once home to great writers from Dick Young on down, has gone down. Long the paper that I read when my father got home at night, it is now the home of Mike Lupica (who also infuriates me but is a great writer), Bill Madden and not much more.

Now as for Mr. Imus himself, let me say that I’m not absolving him of any wrongdoing. Unfortunately we have learned in 2007 that there is a clear double standard. You can not just say anything anymore because people can’t handle it. We, as a society, have lost our sense of humor. Pick on anybody you want, but just don’t pick on me or my people – that’s the lesson – especially if there’s a powerful ally with the media in his back pocket. As a result, Don Imus should have (and frankly does) know better. Now he has to rebuild his image, if it is possible. That being said, he needs to shut up about it. Despite what Chris Russo said, I have no problem with his apology, which began in earnest on Friday. Russo feels that the apology should have begun immediately after the comment (which was made last Wednesday). Sometimes it’s not that easy. On Thursday, Imus said that people shouldn’t take things so seriously (obiviousle I agree with him here) but once the outrage began, he started apologizing. No problems there.

My issue with Imus is the loss of fire. Watching him nearly cry on Monday was tough enough, but listening to him continue to repeat himself on the topic, and defend his record has gotten tedious. He has become like A-Rod, not knowing when to shut up. Not knowing when to say (as he has too many times over the years), "no mas." As it has been proven, there are countless, respectable people willing to come to his defense (including right here). I wish, honestly, that the suspension had begun on Tuesday, for his own sake. A lot of the furor would have died down. I would have been OK with him coming back and doing the radiothon on Thursday and Friday, but I think his getting out of the spotlight would have been good for all parties. Instead the storm continues. Let the guests come on and smack him around a bit, then offer up their support. He doesn’t need to defend his honor. That’s where I think he has looked sad.

Oh one last thing. This issue is between Don Imus and the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Nobody else. Not the pundits, the critics, the Today show, Larry King, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the person walking down below on Harrison Street. Not even me.

Back to Mike Lupica, and that’s how I will end this. As a friend of Imus who has sparred with him in the past, but knows the true man, I want you to read his column from today. It says many of the things that I feel as well, especially in regards to the Rutgers women, who showed immeasurable grace, and a willingness to listen and understand. Everyone should be that smart – starting with those in the media.

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