Even in the midst of the horrific killings at Virginia Tech, some talk radio shows on networks like National Public Radio are still devoting hours to the botched jokes and ruined career of talk radio host Don Imus. If that topic is still under discussion, allow one last comment.
CBS executive Les Moonves finally bowed to public pressure, and immediately dumped the I-Man after a meeting with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton threatening a weekend of ugly protests. The decision was as expected as the spin attached was atrocious. In his 12 years at the top of CBS Entertainment, Moonves has pleased his corporate masters by making money, but his career has also been marked by an utter lack of devotion to principle.
His dismissal of Imus, eight days after the offending Rutgers "ho" joke, could land him in the dictionary under the word "craven." If he were consistently opposed to nastiness in programming, his decision would have reflected it. The fact that it took days of threats to bring him to that decision demonstrates what little principles he has in this arena.
In his press statement on the Imus firing, the strangest part was Moonves' touting how he enjoyed listening to the public: "Many of you have come forward during this past week to share your thoughts and feelings. I thank you for that. At the end of the day, the integrity of our company and the respect that you feel for CBS becomes the most important consideration."
Integrity and respect for CBS? Thanking the public for sharing its thoughts? Moonves and Co. at CBS have stubbornly fought against the public on other matters of broadcast decency. They've consistently looked protests in the eye and declared their contempt for the opinions of the majority of Americans.
It's very easy to remember the wave of public outrage over the Janet Jackson breast exposure during the halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl. Half a million complaints piled into the FCC's offices in Washington. The FCC ultimately levied a $550,000 fine.
But Moonves didn't heed the majority. He threw rocks at the FCC in July 2004, refusing to accept any fine for the Jackson stripper stunt: "We think the idea of a fine for that is patently ridiculous, and we're not going to stand for it. We're going to take that to the courts if it happens."
They certainly did. Not only that, they've gone to court with other networks to fight for their "right" to drop the F-bomb on their airwaves at any time of day, no matter how many millions of children are affected -- or their parents offended. So forgive the public if it thinks it's a little hypocritical that Moonves and Co. would go out and proclaim their sensitivity to the harm of language on the Imus show, when virtually the entire Imus audience was adults.