Peter Wallsten has an amusing article in the Los Angeles Times where he makes it sound like the Democrats are really freaking out that they have lost the Imus in the Morning show as a platform. His evidence? It’s pretty slim. He gets this out of a former Bill Bradley staffer:
Jim Farrell, a former aide to 2000 presidential candidate and Imus regular Bill Bradley, said the firing “creates a vacuum.”
Strong language. What else does Wallsten have?
“This is a real bind for Democrats,” said Dan Gerstein, an advisor to one of Imus’ favorite regulars, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). “Talk radio has become primarily the province of the right, and the blogosphere is largely the province of the left. If Imus loses his microphone, there aren’t many other venues like it around.”
Anyone who witnessed the Ned Lamont candidacy knows what Gerstein thinks of the blogosphere. And why does a spokesman for an independent Senator that is endorsing Susan Collins for Senate and is threatening to switch to the GOP caucus have the authority to speak for Democrats?
Wallsten makes the following point.
…today, with Imus’ career in tatters, the fate of the controversial shock jock is stirring quiet but heartfelt concern in an unlikely quarter: among Democratic politicians.
That’s because, over the years, Democrats such as [Harold] Ford came to count on Imus for the kind of sympathetic treatment that Republicans got from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.
Equally important, Imus gave Democrats a pipeline to a crucial voting bloc that was perennially hard for them to reach: politically independent white men.
So, solid Democrats like Fox News employee and DLC chairman Harold Ford and independent Joe Lieberman are bummed out that they can’t participate anymore on a show where they can simultaneously talk to white men and get sympathetic treatment from the host? A black man and a Jewish man are mourning the loss of a platform that routinely degraded blacks and insulted Jews.
Say what you want about Hillary Clinton and her close ties to these two gentlemen, she had the good sense not to go on the Imus show.
I’m not condemning anyone that went on Imus. I understand that he provided a decent platform and an attractive audience for politicians to get their message across. Chris Dodd explained his reasoning very well.
“He’s got a huge audience; he gives you enough time to talk, not a 30-second sound bite, a chance to explain your views; … and a chance to reach the audience who doesn’t always watch the Sunday morning talk shows.”
That’s all true. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of platforms around that allow politicians to talk at length without the host interrupting to make partisan or overheated remarks. And you can’t get a bunch of dopey white guys to tune into Charlie Rose. Imus sucked in his audience with black jokes and snotty irreverence, and then laid actual political content on them. The content was still incredibly shallow but, ironically, it was better than what you get on the cable news programs.
The loss of Imus does create an opening for a show that is a little more reverent, substantive, and still entertaining. But Democrats need to take advantage of what they have, which is a blogosphere that is badly underfunded, but very well read. If Chris Dodd is feeling the loss of Imus, he could start by answering some of the questions he left unanswered here.