It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this!

Thursday, April 12th, 2007 · 11 Comments »

Imus has been fired! How can this be? Stories like this never have happy endings; instead the asshat in question does a little mea culpa in public, announces that he’ll be seeking some kind of consciousness-raising therapy (preferably from the group he’s been insulting), and then goes right back to raking in zillions of dollars.

Who would have thought this story would actually turn out right?

“There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society,” CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. “That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”

Actually I suspect that what weighed most heavily on CBS’s collective mind was advertising revenue, but whatever. The fact is that the President and CEO of CBS is publicly referring to the problems of young women of color as if they actually mattered. Maybe I’m hallucinating. Maybe I failed to wash out the chai pot thoroughly enough and some kind of hallucinogenic mold is in my tea.

“Something happened in the last week around America,” Monroe said. “It’s not just what the radio host did. America said enough is enough. America said we don’t want this kind of conversation, we don’t want this kind of vitriol, especially with teenagers.”

Definitely hallucinating. Note to self: try Brillo pads.

The way the coverage of this thing has evolved is fascinating. A few days ago, when I started trying to get a handle on the story, I was dismayed by the myopia of the mainstream media. “Racism” they kept saying, “racist slur,” “racially-charged.” Yes, the remarks were completely racist, but there was virtually no mention of sexism, of misogyny, and of the particularly virulent form of racist sexism that has consistently kept black women at the very bottom of the all-American sandwich of race, class, and gender. For chrissake, Imus called the women “nappy-headed hos.” Was the “hos” part okay?

The blogosphere, of course, was all over it: Imus Protest! Unruly-Haired Hater, Black Women: First Dissed, Now Disappeared, and Why Imus Has To Go were a few particularly excellent posts.

And gradually the mainstream coverage started to get a tiny bit better. I think the turning point was when the Rutgers women themselves put the issue of sexism front and center:

Some of them wiped away tears as their coach, C. Vivian Stringer, criticized Imus for “racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable, abominable and unconscionable.”

…”It is more than the Rutgers women’s basketball team. It is all women’s athletes. It is all women,” said Stringer, the third-winningest women’s basketball coach of all time who has taken three teams to the Final Four.

A few days ago, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were decrying Imus’s racism. Now they’re careful to say “racism and sexism.” An improvement, for sure, though that brings up the question of why in the hell those two men were the media go-to figures in the first place. As Betty Bayé wrote in a terrific column today:

How deep is the bias? Just look at whom the media sought out when the Imus story broke.

Did they ring up the president or the women of Spelman College? Did they call Johnnetta Cole, Julianne Malveaux, Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Callie Crossley, Vanessa Williams, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Shirley Franklin, Mae Jameson, Condoleezza Rice, Kathleen Cleaver, Pearl Cleage, Susan Taylor, Renita Weems, Jill Nelson, Sheryl Swoopes or any of the legions of accomplished black women who could bring historical and political context to the harm of calling young women hos?

No. Black women were insulted, but the media rushed to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Are black women wearing burkas? Are they so invisible that they don’t even get to speak first about their own pain?

Jill Nelson had made the same point on the WIMN Online blog a couple of days ago:

It’s astounding that in the media conversation surrounding Don Imus’ characterization of the 10 members of Rutger’s women’s basketball team as “nappy headed ho’s,” Black women – other than those Imus imagines – are virtually invisible. Even when we’re the ones being dissed and dogged, when it comes to analyzing the situation, no one much gives a damn what we have to say.

For a brief hallucinogenic moment here, we can imagine otherwise.

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11 Responses to “It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this!”

  1. The Sanity Inspector says:

    You can nose around the relevant threads at and, to find ordinary black women decrying the insult.

    Q for you, though: Who needs the opinion of that communist fossil Angela Davis about anything?

  2. Kaitlyn says:

    He got fired from CBS.

    But he’ll probably be hired by another media conglomerate for ‘telling it like it is’ and not being politically correct, which is why he got fired.

    I only heard of him in MAD – they said he was ugly and we didn’t need to see and hear him, and I think he appeared in the front page of the parody of Howard Stern’s movie, pissed that some actor was playing him.

    So it goes

  3. Pippa says:

    It’s too amazing for words. i’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…

  4. manxome says:

    It’s a start.

  5. Violet says:

    Hey, Manx, haven’t seen you in forever!

  6. simply wondered says:

    manxome! yay indeed. i miss you.

  7. manxome says:

    Awwww. Just working my way up to getting back into things without it being so draining and all that I have to react by shutting it out for months by entering sweepstakes and getting a job. Of course, I think that eradicating the “just turn it off!” reaction completely may be impossible.

    But hey! Imus. Fired. Jaw drops. Great summary.

  8. darkdaughta says:

    “Who would have thought this story would actually turn out right?”

    I don’t think what happened to that radio announcer has anything to do with public outcry. This is the media we’re talking about. Their motives are often obscure and convoluted. CBS has gotten a lot of attention out of this fiasco. It’s been negative attention. But who knows what the actual purpose of this man’s words were? He was in their employ. Publicly, he’s been fired. Does anyone know what they’ve chosen to do with him privately? Does anyone know what his severance package looks like? Does anyone know if this was part of a whole other project. We don’t know. We know what CBS shared. We know what the public outcry looked like. Oh, I just realized…that sense of vindication. The public has been saying for quite some time that the media is rigged, coopted that it doesn’t reflect what actually goes on. And now…ta-DA! CBS listens to its public! Their stock is going to go through the roof. Has anyone checked to see what their stock looked like before this fiasco and what it looks like now that they’ve “fired” this man? Sweet.

  9. will says:

    Strange how you didnt see any right wingers moaning about the fast and furious take down of Jim Zumbo or the removal of the Dixie Chicks from country radio.

  10. Steven says:

    will says:
    “Strange how you didnt see any right wingers moaning about the fast and furious take down of Jim Zumbo or the removal of the Dixie Chicks from country radio.”

    As a conservative I’ll address that:

    Not sure who Jim Zumbo is or what. Imus was not a conservative, and often agreed with his liberal guests. He was a mean gas-bag who
    liked to insult a great many groups and was unapologetic.

    I sure would like to see people like Rosie O’Donnel get the same treatment for making fun of Chinese people and their language, or in how she denigrated the Duke players by both race, gender, and class.

    I think I heard the term used was equality and equal treatment. I believe in those concepts. Should not the same standards apply to all, regardless of political affiliation, gender, race, and religion?

    Hope that added to the discussion.


  11. Violet says:

    I think I’ve figured out who Steven is — he came here by way of an extreme-misogyny MRA site dedicated to “punishing” the Duke woman for her imagined wrongs.

    Ignore him.