Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Exit of the I-man aka the Don Imus Fiasco

Unless you have been in outer space or you are Knut, the Berlin polar bear cub, you must have heard about Don Imus and his big mouth.
For those of you who are not familiar with this person – he was the CBS Radio talk-show host of “Imus in the Morning”.
His trademark was a combination of discussions about politics and culture, mixed with crude and vulgar humor.
So much for the taste of his listeners.
He liked insulting people on air - during an interview with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and his wife-unit Suzy Wetlaufer about their book “Winning”, Imus referred to Suzy as "been around more times than a fan belt."

But when he started discussing the appearance of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, all hell broke loose.
Instead of applauding these women for being smart, ambitious and blessed with athletic bodies (Paris Hilton, eat your heart out!), he spouted racial slurs.

Ironically enough, this washed out, Caucasian, over-the-hillbilly borrowed words from the hip hop world – for reasons unclear to one and all.
How this could be perceived by Imus as even remotely funny or entertaining is a mystery to me. Obviously, the ‘60s were too good to him and must have fried the moral code part of his muddled brain.

This time, thanks to the public outcry, the whole issue went online, was shown on YouTube and reached a global audience thanks to networks such as CNN and Fox.
Needless to say, viewers outside of the USA were baffled and wondered how this washout ex-junkie was able to host a radio show for so long, raking in millions for his bosses, sponsors and himself.
Ah, American culture!
The issue was settled in a typical American way as well – the sponsors pulled their ad millions from the show, since their customers were upset.
Forget about Barack and Oprah taking the moral high ground – it’s the all-powerful dollar that settled the issue.
Ergo, exit Imus.

Imus is no fool – he issued a public apology that was promptly accepted by the Rutgers’ team.
This will leave his options open to move to another radio station or follow fellow shock jock Howard Stern to satellite radio.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sirius and XM already started a bidding war.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if he already started penning his autobiography “from fame to shame” or something similar – and if anybody knows how to market it, it’s Imus himself!

The ones that should get a sweet deal out of it are –of course- the Rutgers ladies, who handled the whole issue with a lot of class.
I expect companies such as Dove and Patagonia to step in and use them as models for their products.
Charities should jump on the opportunity to have them as spokespersons.
If not, I hope that they all graduate with top marks – and may the lawyers among them sue bigots like Imus for every penny they ever made!