WISE MEN TALK BECAUSE THEY HAVE
SOMETHING TO SAY ... FOOLS, BECAUSE
THEY HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.
Plato's quote is a guide for these blogs. I leave it to the reader to decide which applies.
My position on what Don Imus said ... is very clear: he was wrong.
No qualifier is needed.
There is no defending what Imus said.
Still, the trouble is not just with Don Imus.
The trouble is decades of decay in broadcasting .. created, encouraged and fed by networks and some station bosses who allowed decency standards to drop lower and lower ... in efforts to get ratings .. higher and higher.
I don't know Don Imus. I've never really listened to his program, but I know his kind and the kind of program he represents.
He claims this is the first time he's crossed the racist line, but other cases dispute that claim. Gwen Ifill ( an African American woman) is a reporter for the New York Times and says that Imus said something like, “ Isn't the Times wonderful. It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House." Another time, Imus suggested that Venus and Serena Williams should be "National Geographic" .. not "Playboy".
He has a history of offensive language and malicious attacks on several different groups and personalities. In times past, his bosses apologized ... issuing statements saying: We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by these remarks.
And they kept raking in $20 million a year, and Don Imus realized .. he could be as offensive as he wanted. If it got too hot .. there would be an excuse, an apology ... to cover the latest cutting remark. Don Imus was .. untouchable.
Again, he is not the only one. Howard Stern made millions for himself and his employers using the same tactics.
They were proud to be called: shock jocks. Others lusted for that title and the money that could go with it.
Since I started in broadcasting in 1963 ... I've always feared that if I ever said anything close to what shock jocks say ... I would be fired and banned for life in broadcasting.
But over the years, I've seen many who get fired for offensive remarks ... simply get rehired ... often for more money at bigger stations.
Network and station execs should have more conviction and courage to draw the line. They should make a decision on what is right and what is wrong ... without having a Sharpton/Jackson tornado in their face ... a stampede of sponsors ... a public earthquake of criticism.
In live radio/TV .... there will be legitimate slips .. mistakes. There will be times when something meant to be harmless is perceived by others to be malicious. Each will have to be judged on a case by case basis ... and taking into context the overall history of the violator.
Those of us lucky enough to have a job in this broadcasting .. should treat the profession and the audience with honor and respect. We should police ourselves.
Still, the blame does not stop with those of us on-air ... or those who own the networks and stations.
The public is also to blame... for accepting ... even laughing at offensive, malicious language which attacks and degrades others.
Some of the words that Imus used ... and even worse words ... are in hip-hop and rap songs airing everyday .. all across the nation ... but so far, the public outcry is meek.
If the reaction to Don Imus is just going to be a flash across the dark side of broadcasting ... we will all suffer.
It is time to raise the standards of broadcasting.
Because in the end .. as in the beginning ... Don Imus was wrong.