Another Imus Controversy Leads To Termination
What Keeps Don Imus On The Air?
How does a crusty, mean-spirited, Kerry-supporting fossil like Don Imus manage to stay on the air?
Does he have the best lawyers, who write iron-clad contracts? A world-class superagent? Compromising photos of corporate execs? All of the above?
Or is it simply the age-old art of coasting on one's earlier success, where a shrinking energy level meets increasing compensation? That's the Radio Equalizer's best guess.
Something has to explain how Imus manages to remain not only on major radio stations in New York, Boston and other cities, while keeping his morning MSNBC similcast, despite one ugly controversy after another.
It certainly isn't a strong ratings performance: he's been slowly fading into the New York sunset for 20 years. New breakdowns should be available in the next few days and no big surge is expected to be revealed.
Nor is it energy, personality, passion, prep work, or other redeeming characteristics that might give stations a continuing reason to run his morning program.
Recently, it's even worse than bad, boring talk programming, it's simply jerk radio. When was he last entertaining? Who can remember?
While never regarded as warm and fuzzy, recently it's become increasingly mean, in a way that ought to scare advertisers away for good.
Could Rush Limbaugh, or other conservative talkers, get away with these hate-filled on-air antics? Of course not.
Just this year alone, months after he proclaimed his support for elitist presidential candidate John Kerry, Imus and his program sidekicks have been embroiled in one horrible flap after another.
The latest involves slimy sidekick Sid Rosenberg, who sang a disgusting tune about pop singer Kylie Minogue's breast cancer disclosure, which led to his firing after a week of public pressure and red-faced execs.
Why did Imus keep him around this long? Look at his track record, according to the Post:
The bad-boy sports-talker underwent rehab earlier this year for an admitted addiction to crack cocaine.
Four years ago, he was suspended for saying tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams were better suited for National Geographic than Playboy.
He has also called female soccer players "juiced-up dykes," claimed "faggots play tennis," and said Palestinians were "stinking animals."
Why wasn't Rosenberg fired ages ago, in face of these incidents? Are advertisers aware of what they're associating with here?
Imus is just as responsible for this as Rosenberg, as he controls the show's content and knows his history. Why shouldn't he be held accountable?
Is anyone asking MSNBC why they still carry this program?
Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal blew the lid off of Imus's charity, a New Mexico ranch with enough amenities to rival Neverland, where $2.6 million was spent to help just 100 ill children.
Investigators, government and media alike, have wondered whether the small charitable aspect was really just a tax dodge for a personal retreat.
Then, a few weeks ago, a news anchor Imus fired, aired her grievances and got this public response, according to the New York Post:
DON Imus didn't like being called "a cantankerous old fool" by MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on PAGE SIX. Brewer, a former news reader on Imus' show, also said the I-man doesn't know how to relate to "beautiful women."
"With that fat ass she's got, she wouldn't be one of 'em," Imus said on the air Friday. "That skank has to spend three hours with makeup in the morning ... Who's she kidding? . . . Plus, she's dumber than dirt ... Oh, my God, what a pig.
But I was willing to cut her some slack and not say anything, you know, until - in fact, I didn't say anything . . . That's why they have those big double-doors there at MSNBC, you know, so they can get her fat ass in makeup."
An MSNBC spokesman said: "Contessa Brewer is a valued and respected employee. While Don Imus' humor is often brilliant and provocative, we believe that this morning's comments about Contessa went over the line. We have expressed our displeasure to Don."
It isn't just about hate-filled controversies, there's a competency factor, as well. Aside from the fact it's hard to understand what he's mumbling most of the time, he's become politically confused, moving increasingly into the liberal camp.
During last year's campaign, Imus repeatedly proclaimed his support for Kerry, but when interviewing him, had a hard time justifying his stance, in the face of the latter's inconsistent answers.
Mel Karmazin, now head of SIRIUS, was asked yesterday, at the company's annual meeting, about the possibility of hiring Imus for the sat broadcaster and gave this response, according to CBS Marketwatch:
The only way the company would pursue another high-profile radio personality -- such as Don Imus, whom he was asked about at the meeting -- would be if that person would help Sirius reach cash-flow profitability sooner than it anticipated.
"Imus, if he was available, would be [great], but it comes down to the math. He's very greedy," Karmazin said, eliciting a wave of laughter from the crowd.
When someone with Karmazin's experience and expertise, doesn't see the financial justification for fossil radio in his increasingly popular new medium, why do broadcast stations still need this jerk?