Al Roker on Don Imus
I am naive. I honestly didn't even know what "nappy-headed" meant until the Imus comments. I've never used the term, but I wouldn't have known it was racist. So my initial reaction to the Imus firestorm was that he had made an offensive comment, but what was really the big deal, considering his tendency to be a frequent offender of a wide-range of people and groups.
But with all the attention given to the issue in recent days, I now appreciate what the comment means and how hurtful it is. I think Al Roker's blog speaks well to the issue. You don't normally associate Al Roker with serious commentary, so when he has something to say, it's worth noting.
I cannot tell you how many people have asked me about my thoughts on Don Imus. As a student of broadcasting, I know Don Imus was one of the original “shock jocks.” I listened to him growing up in New York City in the late '60s and early '70s.
He is a radio icon.
That said, it is time for him to go.
I, for one, am really tired of the diatribes, the “humor” at others’ expense, the cruelty that passes for “funny”. Don Imus isn’t the only one doing this, but today he’s the one in the hot seat.
What he said was vile and disgusting. It denigrated an entire team and by extension, a community and its pride in a group that had excelled.
This controversy started and grew during the week. At first under the radar, we even had Don’s wife, Deidre, on the program, talking about “green” cleaning. I thought she was so good I wanted to talk to her about a television program for my production company.
Don and his wife have done a lot of good things—raising money for charity, including a ranch for children suffering from cancer and blood disorders.
Yet, Don Imus needs to be fired for what he said. And while we’re at it, his producer, Bernard McGuirk, needs to be canned as well. McGuirk is just as guilty, often egging Imus on.
The “I’m a good person who said a bad thing” apology doesn’t cut it. At least he didn’t try to weasel out of this by hiding behind alcohol or drug abuse. Still, he said it and a two-week suspension doesn’t cut it. It is, at best, a slap on the wrist. A vacation. Nothing.
The general manager of Cartoon Network resigned after a publicity stunt went wrong and caused a panic in Boston. He did the right thing. Don Imus should do the right thing and resign. Not talk about taking a two-week suspension with dignity. I don’t think Don Imus gets it.
After watching and listening to him this morning during an interview with Matt Lauer (video), Don Imus doesn’t get it. Maybe it’s being stuck in a studio for 35 years or being stuck in the 1980s. Either way, it’s obvious that he needs to move on. Citing “context within a comedy show” is not an excuse.
He has to take his punishment and start over. Guess what? He’ll get re-hired and we’ll go on like nothing happened. CBS Radio and NBC News needs to remove Don Imus from the airwaves. That is what needs to happen. Otherwise, it just looks like profits and ratings rule over decency and justice.