Media Matters documents recent racist, misogynistic, and anti-Semitic comments from the Imus in the Morning radio program that is simulcast on MSNBC. I’ll use just one sample:
On the March 6 edition of MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning, executive producer Bernard McGuirk said that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was “trying to sound black in front of a black audience” when she gave a speech on March 4 in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march. McGuirk added that Clinton “will have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] is over.”
Earlier in the program, in reference to Clinton’s speech, McGuirk had said, “Bitch is gonna be wearing cornrows.” McGuirk also said that Clinton will be “giving Crips signs during speeches.” The Crips are a Los Angeles-based street gang.
Over at Daily Kos, tgnyc has more samples:
…the fact is Imus has an extensive history of making or allowing blatantly racist commentary and “jokes” on his morning radio show.
Like calling tennis star Serena Williams an “animal.”
Or calling national journalist Gwen Ifill “the cleaning lady.”
Or calling national journalist William Rhoden a “quota hire.”
Or likening the appearance of certain black NBA players to “apes.”
Or referring to residents of Harlem as “moolignans” (an Italian anti-black slur).
Or referring to the black wife of former Secretary of Defense William Cohen as a “big-haired ho.”
No one seems to be talking about it, but the Imus show also displays extreme homophobia on a regular basis. I got tired of it and stopped listening to Imus four or five years ago.
None of these insults seem to have phased the Gang of 500 Wankers that make up Imus’s regular guest list until he called the Rutger’s women’s basketball team a bunch of ‘nappy-headed hos’. Now, people like Howard Fineman are concerned:
FINEMAN: Just before I came on the show, I was coming upstairs and my cell phone rang, and it was some listener who called me out of the blue. I’d never heard of the guy before. I’d never heard his name. He called me and he said, “Are you going to go on the show and finally confront this Imus guy? Are you going to quit enabling him?” And, you know, I thought about that, and I said to the guy, “You know, I’ll puzzle that through on the radio.” And I would like to continue to enable you to do a lot of the good things you do. Including, you know, talking about stuff happening in the world, which you do a very good job of on this show.
You know, the form of humor that you do here is risky, and sometimes it runs off the rails. Most of the people who listen to this show get the joke most of the time, and sometimes, you know, as David Carr said in The New York Times this morning, sometimes you go over the line so far you can’t even see the line. And that’s what happened in this case. And I think of all the stuff you’ve done and do do, and, you know, you make your mistakes — we all make our mistakes. We all make mistakes. This was a big one. And I thought that the way you handled it just now — and I’m not blowing smoke here — I believe it, you know, was very heartfelt. And I know you well enough to know that that’s the case and you’re going to do everything you can to set it right.
You know, I don’t know what’ll happen. I think — you know, it’s a different time, Imus. You know, it’s different than it was even a few years ago, politically. I mean, we may, you know — and the environment, politically, has changed. And some of the stuff that you used to do, you probably can’t do anymore.
IMUS: No, you can’t. I mean —
FINEMAN: You just can’t. Because the times have changed. I mean, just looking specifically at the African-American situation. I mean, hello, Barack Obama’s got twice the number of contributors as anybody else in the race.
FINEMAN: I mean, you know, things have changed. And the kind of — some of the kind of humor that you used to do you can’t do anymore. And that’s just the way it is.
I’m going to bend over backwards here to defend Howard Fineman. I think he was trying to politely explain to Don Imus that he can’t make racist jokes anymore without trying to suggest that it was okay a year or two ago to make racist jokes. It’s the kind of conversation you have with a friend in private, where you don’t condemn the totality of their character but just their recent behavior…and you try to cajole them to get their act together by talking to them in a way that avoids inspiring a reflexive defensiveness.
But, of course, this is not the type of discussion you have with your friend on national radio and television. It makes Howard Fineman look like a total jerk…and an idiot.
This next part just makes me want to gag.
FINEMAN: Well, I hope the women from Rutgers will meet with you, and — although I can understand if they won’t, but I hope that they do. This is what they call a teaching moment, you know, in child-rearing, they call a teaching moment. This is a teaching moment for us all. For everybody. You know, all of us who do your show, you know, we’re part of the gang. And we rely on you the way you rely on us. So, you know, you’re taking all of us with you when you go out there to meet with them, you know.
I don’t even know what the hell that means. First of all, I hope the Rutgers team does not meet with Don Imus. They have nothing to say to him and there is nothing he can say to them. Secondly, the only teaching moment required here is that Don Imus gets fired and shunned as an example to other people.
Howard Fineman and the Gang of 500 Wankers might learn something from that.