by Andy Ostroy
April 12, 2007
I've always been fascinated by the phenomenon known as "media frenzy." Why is it that just as one sensational case seems to be in its last throes there's always another that steps right in to take its place: Anna Nicole Smith, meet Don Imus. Is it that the media itself helps create the fodder for the frenzy in some highly manipulative attempt at self-preservation? Just as the dope pusher keeps his users perpetually stoned? I am aghast at how much attention both the media and its trash-addicted public will dedicate to perhaps the least important matters in the country. When there is so much more important issues to report on and stir public debate, the media deftly obfuscates its responsibilities by feeding the beast with diversionary crap. It's sickening. And it's getting worse.
This week the vultures are feeding on ImusGate. The frenzy is out of control. It's hard to imagine that there's any more room on the bandwagon for anyone else to pile on and take a swat at the pathetic shock jock. To be sure, the poor blathering idiot Imus brought this mess on himself last week when he made a moronic, highly offensive comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team, calling them "nappy-headed ho's." As a result, he's been publicly flogged and dragged over the coals non-stop, despite a constant chorus of what I consider to be very heartfelt, genuine apologies. But the vultures do not want apologies. They do not want redemption. And they offer no forgiveness. They want Imus' head on a black platter. MSNBC announced Wednesday that they're canceling his simulcast show. And several major advertisers--including Sprint, GM and American Express--have pulled their sponsorships.
Most people who know me know that I am as liberal as they come. I am a true lefty Democrat, and I champion the rights of women, gays, minorities, the poor and the oppressed. Nothing pushes my buttons more than bigotry, prejudice, ignorance and intolerance. I abhor racism and racists. But I am truly disgusted by ImusGate. The double-standards are mind-numbing. We allow shameless racial-antagonists like the Rev. Al Sharpton to destroy people's lives (Steven Pagones) and them reward them with the honor of running for U.S. president. Rev. Jesse Jackson is still a media darling and respected civil rights leader despite his 1982 "HymieTown slur. We slap the wrists of on-air bigoted criminals like Rush Limbaugh because he's part of a much bigger political machine. Ann Coulter, the right-wing SpinWitch, calls presidential candidate John Edwards a "faggot" and gets to sell millions of books and to keep doing talk shows. William Bennett can say that aborting "every black baby in this country" would reduce the crime rate, and he somehow still has a thriving media career. It's ok for MTV and network television execs to poison our children's minds with garbage programming. Corporate America capitalistically attaches itself to gangsta rappers who extol the virtues of drugs, violence and misogyny--where the terms bitches, ho's, muthufucka and nigga' make up just about every lyric--and then in a fit of supreme self-righteousness and sanctimony punishes Don Imus in order to publicly self-cleanse. None of this excuses the racist comment Imus made, which may ultimately result in his firing, and perhaps rightly so. But this hypocrisy is enough to make ya sick.
What's worse, as a society, we allow George Bush and his cronies to rape the constitution. We allow our government to lie about war and kill our young men and women in the process. We allow Republicans to cut funding for programs that benefit the poor and minorities. We allow voters in minority areas to be disenfranchised and their rights violated. We allow the oil companies to push fuel prices to record levels. We allow Republicans for ten years to keep the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour. And no one seems to give a shit because they're too busy obsessing over Anna Nicole Smith, Britany Spears and now Don Imus.
Wake up America. Nothing is going to change in this country until we get our priorities straight and demonstrate some consistency.