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2008 J


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Don Imus on the radio.
News and Opinion

Hello, Imus Be Going

-- Charles Smolover

Here is a little quiz for those who've been following the news lately. It begins with the following quotation from Leslie Moonves, the CEO of CBS Corp:

"All of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air."

The quotation refers, of course, to statements made by Don Imus on his radio show. But the question is, to which of the following Imus statements was Moonves specifically referring:

  1. In 1998, Imus called Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz "that boner-nosed... beanie-wearing little Jew boy."
  2. On Dec. 15, 2004, Imus referred to book publishers Simon & Schuster as "thieving Jews." In a mock apology made later in the program, he said that the phrase he used was "redundant."
  3. While discussing a past conflict with his bosses on the Nov. 30, 2006 broadcast of his show, Imus referred to the "Jewish management" of CBS Radio as "money-grubbing bastards."

The answer? None of the above. The Moonves quote was in response to Imus's infamous characterization of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's." From what I've been able to gather, Moonves never made a public statement about Imus's anti-Semitic comments, despite the fact that his "money-grubbing bastards" remark was noted by the same website, Media Matters for America, that first publicized Imus's "ho's" remark.

Media Matters wasn't the only organization to take note of Imus's anti-Semitism. His "money-grubbing bastards" slur also showed up on the ADL's radar screen. In a stern letter to Imus that must have had him shaking in his cowboy boots, Abe Foxman, national director of the ADL, told him that his "money-grubbing bastards" remark "…was deeply offensive, resulting in a barrage of phone calls, letters and e-mails to us from other listeners and viewers who were as offended as we." Foxman also wrote Imus to complain about his 2004 "thieving Jews" comment (see item b. above). The result? So chastened was Imus by Foxman's blistering epistles that he promptly got right back to business making money being obnoxious.

As we all know, Imus was eventually canned for the "ho's" incident. Whether he deserved that fate is open to debate, but what is undeniable is that pressure from Al Sharpton was instrumental in sealing Imus's fate. It was Sharpton's non-stop, self-righteous and hypocritical parade before the media that made Imus's sponsors nervous enough to pull their ad money from his show. And as the man said, when money talks shock jocks walk.

Why doesn't Foxman have that kind of pull? Could it be, as some have suggested, that the American public has grown weary of our protests against continued anti-Semitism, that we have gained enough success and acceptance in America that we should not be bothered by the occasional anti-Semitic joke? Not for my money. There is still enough neo-Nazi, white supremacist, Holocaust-denying garbage out there to warrant us looking over our shoulders on a regular basis.

So, why is it that Sharpton can get Imus fired but Foxman can not? Why does it appear that irate Jewish leaders don't get the same respect as irate African-American leaders? What the hell good is having total control of Hollywood, the national media and international banking if you can't knock one foul-mouthed anti-Semite off the airways?

Beats me.

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