MY EVENING WITH HANNITY & COLMES: STEPPING TO THE DARK SIDE OF THE IMUS DEBATE
Media Channel, NY
Oct 16 2007
I need a shower.
Hours after finishing my first – and likely only – appearance on Fox
News Channel’s shoutfest Hannity & Colmes, I’m stuck wondering why I
allowed myself to be part of the dog and pony show which has become
the cable TV news prime time game.
The short answer is easy: The National Association of Black Journalists
wanted to provide someone to talk about the apparently imminent return
of Don Imus to a national radio perch. The group has already issued a
statement opposing his rehiring – I’ve explained in this space before
what I think the radio host needs to do before a responsible radio
programmer can give him a gig – so as chair of the group’s Media
Monitoring Committee, I put myself in the line of fire.
I refer to it that way because the producers told me both conservative
firebrand Sean Hannity and his supposed liberal co-host Alan Colmes
were on the same side of this issue – supporting the right of a guy
who called respected PBS, NBC and New York Times journalist Gwen Ifill
a cleaning lady to take back a high-paying radio job months after he
I knew it was going to be an argument, but I hadn’t watched these
knuckleheads in action for awhile. I wound up talking over both of
them to make my points while they called me a hypocrite and National
Organization for Women representative Sonia Ossorio looked a little
tongue tied. (I found it interesting that Hannity compares Imus,
who has shown mostly contempt for black culture in his jokes, to
Chris Rock, who clearly loves black culture and black people, simply
because Rock curses more than Imus) We argued, I said my piece, no
one changed their mind – in the end, I contributed to the argument
culture I hate so much on cable TV, hence the need for the shower.
But I wanted the experience of doing the show, so I knew for sure what
it was all about. What disappointed me more, was seeing the displays
on some of the other programs.
As a makeup artist was toning down the shine on my forehead, I heard
Rick Sanchez on CNN asking "could your child be getting advice that
could get them killed?" in one excited promo. Later, he spent long
minutes laughing as he quizzed Democratic talking head Bill Press
on a measure Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi supports condemning the
massacre of 1-million Armenians in Turkey during world War I.
I do think it’s possible to talk about these issues in ways which
are meaningful. I did that back when Imus was first ousted on Howard
Kurtz’s CNN show Reliable Sources. I don’t think it’s possible to
have that kind of discussion on these kinds of shows.
It’s unfortunate, because it’s a discussion worth having. Imus never
owned up to a decades-long legacy of cracking racist jokes on air.
And if he doesn’t acknowledge it before he starts his new job,
I expect more of the same from him. And as flawed as Jesse Jackson
and Al Sharpton may have been as messengers to challenge his history,
just try getting the attention of these noise-addicted cable TV news
outlets without their participation.
Most of all, I blame the executives at CBS Radio, MSNBC and any other
media outlet who employs race-baiting personalities such as Imus,
Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and Neil Boortz, to name a few. These
executives know who they are putting on air – MSNBC had to apologize
publicly to Arab American groups and gay groups for other incidents
just a few years before Imus was fired.
But they put people who want news and information shows free from
prejudice in the position of having to publicly protest, target
advertisers and stage revolts by their own employees of color before
they will act against a man with a 30-year history of stereotypical
jokes. As professional, mainstream broadcasters, they should act
before it gets this far. But Imus and his ilk make too many people
too much money.
In a job where I have spent years insisting the subtlest media images
have an impact, I couldn’t ignore this one. Whether Imus’ next move
divides us further mostly depends on Imus himself and the men who
sign his paycheck.
– Eric Deggans, The Feed
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress