|Freedom of speech for journalists is likely to be the topic du jour this year, as a few high profile cases over the last couple of months has demonstrated. There have been revelations of bought-and-paid for journalists from the White House to the Department of Education; hefty fines levied by the Federal Communications Commission; high-pitched blogs forcing old-school media to report on stories they could previously ignore or else risk being dismissed as irrelevant; and there is the distinct possibility of journalists facing jail time for refusing to reveal their sources. In this environment, distinctions among columnists, journalists, reporters, news reports, entertainment and the respective freedoms, obligations and responsibilities associated with them are facing unprecedented scrutiny.
Amidst this noise and fray, one man has managed to buck the critics, cruise unhindered above radar, and call into question most of the rhetoric of the arbiters themselves, as they clamor for his attention and an opportunity to appear on his radio show which is also is simulcast on the cable news network MSNBC.
Don Imus peaked sometime in the sixties, and looks a lot older than he is. Kind of like an aging bull-dyke with anorexia and a penis. He epitomizes everything that every minority in America despises about the dominance of a White heterosexist patriarchy. He is foul-mouthed, blowhard with a chip on his shoulder deeper than the Grand Canyon and an axe to grind with almost every politician or public figure of any stripe or affiliation.
He takes unusually great offense at comparisons to Howard Stern, with whom he rose to prominence of sorts, and which suggests he sees himself more like Stern than he cares to admit. The reality is that he is not Stern. Even when he’s kissing the butt of the likes of Bill O’Reilly, he’s a paradox. He wants desperately to be taken seriously as a news personality, yet is constantly knocked of the air by MSNBC in favor of, God help us, the likes of Chris Jansing or Alex Witt -- whenever there is real breaking news.
Don Imus peaked sometime in the sixties, and looks a lot older than he is. Kind of like an aging bull-dyke with anorexia and a penis. He epitomizes everything that every minority in America despises about the dominance of a White heterosexist patriarchy.
He surrounds himself with ‘yes’ men that fawn over him with enough brownnosing to embarrass any self-thinking male with a brain in his head. A lot of men – especially those driven by ego -- treat their underlings with the kind of abuse Imus heaps on his crew, but never quite so publicly. They in turn refer to him as the I-man, which comes across as kind of silly when you’re grown adults with children of your own.
The show’s executive producer and former choir boy Bernard McGuirk and the effete Charles McCord, a supposed reborn Christian who reads the news and meekly refers to Imus as I-dude as Imus berates him and heaps abuse on him. Never mind turning the other cheek, when it comes to Imus, Charles McCord, Bernard McGuirk and the rest of his crew are spreading both cheeks and not the the ones on their faces either.
It’s not his over-the-top, homophobic, racist, misogynist, jingoist, geocentric commentary and the political incorrectness of his show that’s at issue. Nor the boring Kathy Lee Gifford meanderings about his annoying son, Wyatt, nor the one-act, one-joke retards and morons he employs. It’s his guests.
He has smartly interwoven faux beltway sophistication with faux cowboy country rustic with a blend of unmistakable trailer trash tawdry that somehow commands the attention of every columnist vying enviously to get onto his show, and politicians -- both locally in New York and nationally --know that passing the Imus test can have more impact on a race than most would like to admit.
Smarmy politicians like Democratic Presidential no-chance, Joe Lieberman, giggle nervously while Imus and his pathetic radio crew spew preadolescent epithets and self righteous bumptiousness enough to make even the sincerest of pacifists stock up on AK47’s. And if the hypocrisy of Joe Lieberman’s holier-than-thou censorship tirades while frequently contributing to Imus isn’t enough to make anyone anti-Semitic, Sid Rosenberg, the drug-riddled, alcoholic buffoon who provides the sports entertainment (when he isn’t in rehab, poor fuck), is enough to inspire Jews themselves to start rethinking the benefits of Zyklon B gas.
Rosenberg, even when he isn’t reeling from hangovers, and who once bragged about stealing dry cleaning from a World Trade Center victim, actually stinks over the airwaves. How can anyone criticize Ward Churchill for calling victims of the World Trade Center “little Eichmanns” when Sid Rosenberg calls Serena and Venus Williams animals better suited to pose for National Geographic than Playboy? The “little Eichmanns” Churchill referred to were not in the World Trade Center, they’re still broadcasting on MSNBC.
Rosenberg, even when he isn’t reeling from hangovers, and who once bragged about stealing dry cleaning from a World Trade Center victim, actually stinks over the airwaves.
In addition to sycophantic politicians, washed out media personalities and butt boy sidekicks, the guest list is like a Who’s Who of the failure of Special Education programs. Like plagiarist, Mike Barnicle, fired by the Boston Globe after essentially copy-pasting a George Carlin essay, and who would have punched Caroline Kennedy in the face had she tried to interrupt his marathon TV network theatrics covering John Kennedy Junior’s death. And like McGuirk, waxing indignation over the impact the sexual abuse scandals are having on the Catholic Church. Yep, this self-righteous, hypocritical hemorrhoid was fired for stealing and lying only to be hired by MSNBC. A used tampon to plug a dry cunt.
Bo Dietl, a private investigator who is either punch drunk or truly drunk (or deserving of an Oscar for such an accurate portrayal) has suggested, among other things, that civil liberties are unimportant and is as intellectually stimulating as Jessica Simpson, as attractive to look at as Michael Moore, and as pleasant to listen to as being whipped at a stake.
As the show’s executive producer, McGuirk compiles the guest list, which sheds a little bit of light. If a school wanted to profile the quintessential characteristics of a therapy-deficient, latent homosexual with Catholic guilt issues, they couldn’t wish for a more glaring example. Like Hitler’s fear of the potential Jewish taint in his blood, this pseudo-macho, lowbrow, one-liner – hired, Imus once admitted, to do “nigger jokes” – will seize any opportunity to denigrate anyone who isn’t straight, white or male. And not with anything witty, mind you, but pre-adolescent lines like “Anderson Cooper takes it in the pooper.” They’re funny enough to garner girlish giggles from McCord and Imus though.
As the show’s executive producer, Bernard McGuirk compiles the guest list, which sheds a little bit of light. If a school wanted to profile the quintessential characteristics of a therapy-deficient, latent homosexual with Catholic guilt issues, they couldn’t wish for a more glaring example.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Imus, McGuirk and “the gang” branded anyone who wasn’t embracing President Bush’s “with us or against us” shtick as treasonous. But once the war started and body bags started coming back, McGuirk and Imus changed their tune and started blaming Dick Cheney, calling him names that would normally have incited Lynn Cheney to mobilize Joe Lieberman to try and censor. But like Lieberman, Lynn Cheney doesn’t mind kissing another old, flat, wrinkled ass if it’s politically expedient, even if they refer to her daughter Mary as a "rug muncher." After all, it’s the L-word uttered by Kerry that “outed” their already very out daughter and bent them out of shape. It would be great to hear Lynn Cheney justify her appearance on Imus to Judith Shepherd, Matthew Shepherd’s mother.
And so it wasn’t that surprising that the Cheney whores agreed to appear on Imus’ show on inauguration day, pretending that he was a journalist, just as Imus was pretending to be one by racing to D.C. with Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough and the rest of the credibility-stretched MSNBC news hacks to cover the momentous occasion. The coup de grace was Bernard McGuirk, almost shoving Imus over to get to shake Cheney’s hand like a preadolescent schoolgirl at a Bon Jovi concert. The man he referred to on air as a killer.
A frequently deployed straight myth is that gays believe that anyone straight is really gay, and that their gaydar assessments are more a case of wishful thinking. McGuirk is not attractive enough to fall into that category. What is disturbing is the drool that accompanies his glazed over eyes when he mentions the name Joe Tacopina – a frequent guest on the Imus show, and a shamelessly self-promoting attorney who is as good looking as McGuirk is ugly, and with whom McGuirk seems anxious to wrestle. You can usually count the seconds before a homophobic epithet is uttered to compensate for the obvious.
Pulitzer winning columnist, Maureen Dowd, when she isn’t veering from hyper feminism commentary (the Botox generation to Condoleezza Rice’s stiletto-heeled boots) to Catholic guilt or astute observations about Hillary being from Venus and George W. from Mars, will call in to flash her pearls of wisdom like an intern to a President. And so will Frank Rich, who has the ability to take them on intellectually and humorously ten times over, but doesn't.
The danger of MSNBC turning a blind eye to this kind of behavior is not so much what it says to their audience as what it says to their news correspondents.
The danger of MSNBC turning a blind eye to this kind of behavior is not so much what it says to their audience as what it says to their news correspondents. After horribly degrading references to women, Andrea Mitchell will call in, or MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer will sit blinking at the camera as McGuirk resorts to the radio equivalent of a blue collar construction worker whistling at a passer-by from a construction site. Sans the blue collar sex appeal.
A Wall Street Journal article today raised questions about New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s tax inquiry into the Imus Ranch, his Architectural Digest-featured, tax-exempt ranch in New Mexico. Supposedly for “kids with cancer,” a handful of kids are bussed in for a few days a year to come work on the ranch, while consumer brands clamor to give money and product in the hope they won’t be dissed on air. I, for one, wouldn’t take such offense to any of it -- often the rants are spot on, but it’s his constant equating of anyone unsupportive of his tirades as “hating children with cancer” that steps over the line. Coupled with the arrogance that no one will call him for his bullshit, and that everyone from Cheney to Spitzer is in his pocket.
As Imus overreacted defensively to the Wall Street Journal piece, calling it a hatchet job and essentially threatening the Wall Street Journal writer, Robert Frank, on the air, sneering that the story would go away but not the writer, Charles McCord giggled at things that were about as funny as the Terri Schiavo case -- virtually ignored by the self-centered pigs hogging the airwaves at WFAN and MSNBC -- and creating an air of impropriety, even if none exists.
No one cares if Don and Deirdre Imus raise shitloads of tax exempt cash for their ugly attempts to turn hick into chic.
No one cares if Don and Deirdre Imus raise shitloads of tax exempt cash for their ugly attempts to turn hick into chic or pawn salsa, but if you want to give money to kids with cancer, go for a charity that doesn’t use misogyny, homophobia and racism as its core fundraising mechanism.
Clinton Fein can be reached at