Paul  Weyrich

Rosie O'Donnell is off the air, supposedly her own doing, and Don Imus is reported to be suing CBS. The outcome of any such litigation may tell if we have achieved a new era in broadcasting or if we will revert to the pervious era. Regardless of what Rosie says, I believe she did not reach an agreement with ABC because ABC did not want to reach an agreement. The absence of an agreement may have provided Rosie with her own dignity, if she had any, but it avoided a problem for ABC. If ABC had renewed her, especially under the circumstances of her slander of Donald Trump, there would have been howls of protest from that part of the viewing public which still has some morality. By simply not agreeing to a new contract, Rosie's having claimed that ABC wanted her for three years and she only wanted one year, ABC showed the morality viewer that it cared. Probably no one except Rosie's most devoted followers believed her story, even though technically it may have been true. Believe me, if ABC really wanted her for three years, ABC would have taken her for one year.

Anyway, some of us thought that with Imus and Rosie off the air it would be a message to the shock jocks that we would have a new era in broadcasting. Indeed, word was coming from local stations that shock jocks were taming down.

Now comes Imus with a contract. I've heard his lawyers detailing what is in the contract. It is clear that he should have been warned by CBS if he were to have been fired. It is also clear that CBS knew what it was getting with Imus. Words in the contract revealed that Imus would be shocking and provocative and so on. CBS no doubt will argue that what Imus did crossed the line. Imus apparently is suing for big bucks. He may get millions. If so he would have the capital to put together a network of his own. If that sells again Imus would be wealthy and the public would be stuck with him again.


Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
 
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