Rush to Judgment

Don Imus

What an irony.  Don Imus, the shock jock I listened to on WABC radio in New York City as a kid in 1972, has attacked Rush Limbaugh for the firestorm set off following his comments about the Georgetown co-ed seeking a free ride for her contraceptives before congress on February 23.  The national news media was all too happy to attack Limbaugh, and his enemies on the left have been sure to alert his advertisers about smelling his blood in the water (see: A 7th advertiser pulls out of Limbaugh’s show).

It was five years ago that Imus faced his own firestorm after defending racist remarks he made about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, calling them “nappy-headed ho’s,” which he later acknowledged to be an offensive term which originated in the hip-hop world.  The outrage that ensued led Imus to issue a written apology.  Then he was forced to go on Al Sharpton’s syndicated radio talk show to state his apology live, during which Imus stated:

Our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far.  And this time we went way too far.  Here’s what I’ve learned: that you can’t make fun of everybody, because some people don’t deserve it.

This was not good enough for Al Sharpton, who restated his demand in front of Imus that he be fired.  Sharpton’s boycott campaign, urging Imus’ longtime sponsors to abandon him, was successful.  Imus had his syndication contract cancelled, and later sued his syndicator.  Within days he met with the Rutgers women’s basketball team to issue his apology in person.  He remained radioactive for two years until his return to radio with a new syndicator.

Ironically, it would appear that Imus has joined the pack of attack dogs in the campaign against Limbaugh.  During a Fox Business Network news update, Imus stated:

It’s the worst kind of cowardice…you can’t say stuff about somebody and not, 1. own up to it, and 2. have guts enough to go sit down with her and say, ‘Look, I’m sorry and I won’t do this again.’  But no, he’s a punk.

So let’s recap: in the face of the firestorm of criticism over his racist remarks on his comedy/satirical radio program. In 2007, Imus first issued a written apology.  Then he was lambasted and humiliated by Al Sharpton, the same man who led a boycott against the shock jock.  So, Imus is now treating a fellow syndicated broadcaster how?

At the time of Imus’ initial demise, many of his fellow broadcasters spoke out in support of him.  Once he apologized, the whole thing should have blown over.  Sure, he might have lost some advertisers, but such is the nature of market forces and public discourse.  That was not good enough for Al Sharpton and his followers though – they would not stop until Imus was gone and his business was decimated.

In a similar scenario, Rush Limbaugh is now under the microscope, having lost nine advertisers at last count, including several after he issued his written apology for his remarks about the 30 year-old co-ed seeking free birth control through government intervention (see: Limbaugh Advertisers Flee Show Amid Storm).

The Wall Street Journal notes the aggressive campaign that is being waged against Limbaugh as his radical opponents circle the waters and organize to push the $50 million per year phenom into an early retirement, such as Al Sharpton had done with Don Imus in 2007:

By the time he apologized, online protesters had been organizing for days on social networking Web sites and liberal hubs like Daily Kos.  They called on companies like ProFlowers to remove their ads from “The Rush Limbaugh Show” and appeared to be having some success, as companies like Sleep Train said they had suspended advertising.

Eric Boehlert of the liberal media monitoring group Media Matters for America predicted on Sunday that the apology would not “stop the pressure that’s being applied to his advertisers.”

(See: Inside Media Matters: Sources, memos reveal erratic behavior, close coordination with White House and news organizations)

Just like with the Imus radio program, these advertisers knew what they were getting when they made their investments in Limbaugh’s radio program – access to millions of loyal listeners who would patronize the show sponsors — and they did not mind raking in revenues that they realized through these advertising investments.  Business decisions being what they are, these companies have a choice to make, and all too often will cower to the pressure of radical interest groups which are out for blood instead of standing for reason and equal justice.

Naturally, there is a big double-standard that exists when the national news media attack commentators judged to be worthy of sacking, and will not relent even after they have secured an apology for the inappropriate remarks (see: Maher Refuses to Apologize for Calling Palin C-Word).

That is why Don Imus of all people should be calling for an end to the radical mob mentality that is wholly endorsed by the national news media in attacks such as this latest one against Rush Limbaugh.

Photo Credit: BobbleHeadSports.com

About the author

Mark Serrano is a leading political and policy strategist, public affairs and digital PR expert, Internet entrepreneur, media commentator, and blogger. He is the CEO of ProActive Communications and VOPED.

6 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Imus may be a hypocrite, but Rush is getting what he deserves.

    Reply
    • That sentiment is understandable, but the larger point here is that, like the Russian election, the loss of advertisers is an engineered outcome — and the engineers in this case (and many pundits) never said a word about Bill Maher’s misogynist slurs on many occasions, which were far more vulgar and offensive.

      Reply
      • Ryan Farnes says:

        The underlying debate was plodding along until Limbaugh said what he did. For more general context, check out Kirsten Power’s piece on the double standard you allude to Mark: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/04/rush-limbaugh-s-apology-liberal-men-need-to-follow-suit.html

        And once Limbaugh said it, the left elevated it to justify their disregard of the freedom of religion in the name of women’s health coupled with an entitlement mentality.

        But quite frankly, all I surmise from the whole affair is that Limbaugh is a politically incorrect radio personality, Sandra Fluke doesn’t know what generic pharmaceuticals are and the President, who so recently talked about being united in the SOTU address, couldn’t be more pleased to join in and elevate Ms. Fluke.

        Reply
      • Matt says:

        Perhaps the media backlash against Rush was more severe than it would have been for someone like Maher; none of them should be protected or defended for this type of slur. As per the advertisers, they just need to pull out now to save face. I bet ProFlowers will be back in time for Mother’s Day.

        Reply
      • DLehr2000 says:

        Part of the problem there is that Maher doesn’t have the same type of show.  Limbaugh and Imus on the airwaves for free because of their advertisers, whereas Maher is on a pay-cable channel whose viewership isn’t solely based on his program.  It doesn’t excuse the way his slurs were glossed over by the media.

        Reply
  2. DLehr2000 says:

    It’s the Bill Maher hypocrisy that aggravates me most of all.  Why didn’t HBO cancel his show?  Because the vitriol that he spews plays to his fans, just the same as Limbaugh’s.  They are collectively a bunch of blowhards trying to get a rise out of people, and then people are “shocked” when they succeed.  Theirs are poisonous rants that do not move people or politicians in a positive direction in this country, and the lot of them, Limbaugh, Imus, and Maher alike, don’t deserve the headlines they are given.

    Reply

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