Goodbye, Mr. Imus

April 15, 2007

52-posts-13-dc_wp.jpg 52-posts-13-wsj.jpg 52-posts-13-nyt.jpg

The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times front pages for April 13, 13, and 11, respectively. From Newseum and the NY Times.

Can we please lay Don Imus: The Scandal to rest? The media are jumping on this like he’s the next Anna Nicole Smith. And yet I have yet to hear anyone speak out on the fact that the man and his idiotic comments are overhyped, just like Anna was. What’s the deal? Is it because the man is, technically, a member of the media, and we love pointing out the mistakes of our own kind? (Probably.) Is it because the media gets a righteous satisfaction from pointing out examples of racism? “Look, we’re not nearly as bad as this guy!” (Probably.)

Imus was, still is, probably, a jackass. But that does not warrant the front-page treatment he’s gotten from major newspapers. On the 11th, Imus and the Rutgers girls made the front page of the New York Times, no joke. On the 13th, when Imus’s firing was announced, his mug graced the front pages of papers ranging from the New York Post and Daily News to the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Most of these ran the story above the fold. Slow news day? In Washington, DC? I doubt it.

The SF Chronicle teased the story on the front page but wasted no more space on it. Google News provides 4000+ hits for the man’s name.

Blogs are not exempt from jumping on the Imus-ragging bandwagon. On Technorati on the 13th, “Imus” was the top search and top tag for the day. Since the beginning of April, over 50,000 blogs have felt the need to weigh in on the “controversy.”

The problem is there is no controversy. Don Imus was a racist talk show host. He probably should have been fired a long time ago. Now he has been fired. Hooray! End of story. Rehashing tired “scandals” is not what citizen journalism is supposed to be for. The mainstream media isn’t supposed to leap on these stories either, but I think it’s pretty accepted now that they will, no matter how wrong it is.

It wasn’t so long ago, though, that we dreamed that blogs would fill in where the mainstream media left off. Bloggers would call attention to stories and issues neglected by the big newspapers and TV stations. Beautiful dream, eh? Instead, everyone with a keyboard feels the need to give their opinions about the exact level of jerkitude possessed by Imus. Enough! Where’s the outrage that important issues are being neglected for this circus? (The New York Observer’s Media Mob has started an Imus tally, a tongue-in-cheek count of the number of Imus pieces in each major New York City paper.) Here on Long Island, Imus’s firing topped the news hour on CBS, relegating the governor of New Jersey’s car crash to much later. Governor Corzine remains in critical condition.

On the blogosphere, I have no way of knowing which stories have been pushed to the side in favor of rehashing the “racist talk show host” debate. It’s up to you guys to tell me! There are so many things going on in the world at any given moment. Pick one. Inform me.

(For three takes on Imus that are more than just bashing or rehashing the news, try these: Chicago Tribune | Washington Post | Newsday)

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