Monday Morning Blips (April 16 Don Imus Memorial Edition)

April 16th, 2007  |  Published in etc

» The Passion of the Imus:

First they came for Don Imus. And now they’ll come for Rush.

At least, that was the fear at the Free Congress Foundation on April 13, where a panel discussion of an ancient broadcasting regulation quickly turned into a discussion of Don Imus and how his firing might portend a similar fate for some of the right’s best-known media personalities. In the absence of any compelling evidence, participants in the latest of the conservative think tank’s occasional Next Conservatism Forum series managed to convince themselves that the Fairness Doctrine, a rule that was scrapped by the Federal Communications Commission 20 years ago, was poised for a comeback, and was about to become a weapon in a liberal jihad against the right wing’s freedom of speech.

In fact, the prominent conservatives, addressing a crowd of 30 on the ground floor of a Washington row house, described what sounded like a conspiracy. Panelist Ken Blackwell, formerly Ohio’s secretary of state and the Republican candidate for governor last fall, said Imus was “not a conservative” and that “the left has sacrificed one of their own to give them a platform to go after true conservative talk show hosts.” Cliff Kincaid, of the conservative media watchdog Accuracy in Media, said the Imus firing had been a revelation. “It wasn’t exactly clear to me how [liberals] intended to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, but I think now with the Imus affair, we know … [And it’s a] short leap from firing Imus to going after Rush Limbaugh.”

More at Salon (reg. req to not sit through an ad)

Here’s what got me to quit smirking and start actively snickering:

Panelist Ken Blackwell, formerly Ohio’s secretary of state and the Republican candidate for governor last fall, said Imus was “not a conservative” and that “the left has sacrificed one of their own to give them a platform to go after true conservative talk show hosts.”

Yes. Yes indeed. Word came down from The Inner Committee: Comrade Imus, while a good and worthy comrade and tireless party worker, needed to be sacrificed as part of the Committee’s broader campaign to drive Rush Limbaugh from the air.

What’s weird about a party that’s ostensibly comprised of free market fetishists is that its most loony members have to invent conspiracies when their beloved market doesn’t do something they think is right and proper.

Imus’ head got harvested because finally he managed to turn enough stomachs to get the sponsors to notice. They acted like rational actors in a market do, seeking to get more utility from their ad dollars (and to mitigate harm to the utility of their brands).

It probably comes as a shock to Republicans because their radio personalities are, by and large, merchants of the repulsive and grotesque who get away with the sorts of things Imus said daily. ((“We’ve had these problems ever since the Emancipation Proclamation. Once the whites leave town, all you’ve got is overwhelming lawlessness. That’s not racism, Mr. Snerdley; it’s a proven, demonstrable fact. Have you even seen a ghetto in Greenwich, Connecticut? I rest my case.” – Rush Limbaugh, 9/12/05)) So when Imus seems to suddenly get popped, it must be For a Reason, and not because suicide by incitement is a typical enough, but sporadically occurring, American social phenomenon.

And you’d think they’d be o.k. with it this time, anyhow. Imus went after middle class, or at least aspirant, African-Americans. The sort of crap he spewed in this instance was different from the thousands of times it’s passively accepted as common wisdom each day only in terms of the social class of its targets. In other words, he didn’t get the memo that race-baiting isn’t o.k. unless it’s a tool of class warfare. ((See also the classic late-Klan distinction between “black folks” and “niggers,” which was eagerly explained to me by an Imperial Wizard in Marshall, Indiana who was taking great pains to explain that he wasn’t at all a racist … just against “trashy people” of whatever skin color.))

Anyhow, that market behavior is a nasty surprise to them, because boycotts and the like are only legitimate in Republican eyes when they involve keeping the queers out of DisneyWorld. Otherwise they’re hate crimes directed at defenseless billionaires and tireless advocates of free speech who face the daily struggle of having so much to say and nothing more than the rickety, fleeting soapbox of every cable news network and 75 to 100 percent of the programming time on every talk radio station in the country.

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