Standing up for Imus in Canada
BY JOSEPH PLANTA
Monday, 30 January 2006
VANCOUVER - Don Imus doesn't need my help in defending him, but here's another example of why consumers of media end up hating the media.
There's a story from the Hollywood Reporter that's been fed to the Reuters news service, which in turn has been fed to the Metro News chain of free dailies in this country this morning. It's to do with Imus and a recent CRTC judgement on the Imus in the Morning radio program which is simulcast on MSNBC.
On 12 November 2004, MSNBC like every other 24-hour news service was covering the funeral of Yasser Arafat. Unlike every other news channel, MSNBC elected to stay with Imus. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has passed judgement because of a number of complaints it received, one in particular that wondered why this country's broadcast regulator had imposed restrictions on Al Jazeera, yet MSNBC seemed to get away with someone on the Imus show saying that Muslims were "brainwashed," "stinking animals," "stupid to begin with," and that they should all be "killed right now."
The headline of the Reuters story is misleading to begin with: "Imus slurs are 'abusive,' Canada watchdog says." First of all it leads one to believe that Imus himself uttered these ill-advised things. He did not. It was his sports lackey Sid Rosenberg, the crack, porn, and booze addicted personality who has since been fired from the Imus program.
But Imus doesn't need my defending, because he's a big man and he can take it. According to this month's issue of Vanity Fair, in a piece written by Buzz Bissinger, the I-Man is a "serious political, cultural, and philanthropic force." That's not to say, Imus's friends (if any) and fame absolve him. Sure, he's rude and crude, but he's also a refreshing breath of air from the mania of political correctness and pretension that pervade both the left and the right in either the United States or Canada.
The fact that the CRTC is only now passing judgement on an incident in 2004 is remarkable for the Canadian bureaucracy. Maybe it's a bit like throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, but the fact it's taken over a year to investigate a consumer complaint suggests that the CRTC needs doing away with, if at the least serious reform. What about the over 200 broadcasts since then? Shall the CRTC pick through each and restrain every semblance of controversy, bad taste or insolence? It seems that people listen or watch Imus because he's unlike everyone else. And I am sure he, himself, has said something rude and crude since 2004.
The commission had the temerity to state that Canadians expect a current affairs program, "no matter how controversial in style, will provide credible information and informed commentary on pertinent social, economic and cultural issues," thus the Imus reprimand was duly served.
As a committed viewer of Imus, the point of this exercise in defending Imus stems not from the criticism against the slurs uttered on his program, but from messy reporting from the correspondent, the Canadian bureau chief of the Hollywood Reporter, Etan Vlessing. Vlessing makes it out that Imus uttered these hateful comments, which he did not. The Imus name is on the marquee so perhaps he deserves the criticism. He can take it. However, the old adage that accusations linger and denials evaporate is obvious in this case. Imus is made out to be a racist and hatemonger, when most of the criticism is not deserved. The sloppy reporting of this story makes one believe that perhaps the complaint in question doesn't deserve any more attention.
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