April 13, 2007

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Don Imus started a brushfire of criticism for the latest in a series of racially insensitive remarks last week, ultimateky costing him his broadcasting platforms at CBS and NBC. Much of the demand for his termination came from the efforts of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, two former Democratic presidential candidates (2004 and 1988, respectively), who fired up demands for boycotts against Imus' sponsors. Their success may present a problem for their party, however, as Democrats routinely used Imus to access independent white male voters who comprised a large part of his audience:

They came by the hundreds that hot August day in tiny Johnson City, Tenn., gathering on an asphalt parking lot to meet Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. It was not just that he might become the state's first black senator. More than that, even in Republican eastern Tennessee, the Democratic congressman was a celebrity — a regular guest on Don Imus' radio show.

And today, with Imus' career in tatters, the fate of the controversial shock jock is stirring quiet but heartfelt concern in an unlikely quarter: among Democratic politicians.

That's because, over the years, Democrats such as Ford came to count on Imus for the kind of sympathetic treatment that Republicans got from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. Equally important, Imus gave Democrats a pipeline to a crucial voting bloc that was perennially hard for them to reach: politically independent white men.

With Imus' show canceled indefinitely because of his remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, some Democratic strategists are worried about how to fill the void. For a national radio audience of white men, Democrats see few if any alternatives.

Thus starts the hangover from the celebration of knocking off perhaps the only center-left radio talk show host with national reach. Silent up to now, Democratic organizers for people like Bill Bradley now point out that the departure of Imus has closed any access to that crucial voting bloc. Only Ed Schultz might have similar reach, but Schultz doesn't have a national television simulcast nor the crossover appeal of Imus.

Who appeared with Imus over the last few years? Men like Ford, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. Chris Dodd recently appeared to announce his candidacy for the presidential race. Kerry made a few appearances during his presidential bid in 2004, and undoubtedly the Democrats planned to have their eventual nominee do the same next year. Without Imus, the options for talk radio run to whatever's left of Air America -- and Al Franken doesn't work there any more.

Imus may have deserved his termination; he certainly deserved his national humiliation. It seems clear that the Democrats will suffer the most from his departure. Expect to see Imus find a new broadcast deal soon, and then expect to see the Democratic parade begin again.

Addendum: Republicans have appeared on Imus as well, including current presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. They have plenty of other places to go now that Imus is gone, however.


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Comments (29)

Posted by commander0 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 9:18 AM

"Only Ed Schultz"


Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 9:24 AM

Drudge headline:

'Nappy Headed Ho' merchandise floods GOOGLE stores...

Teddy bears, t-shirts, and hats.

Posted by Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 9:49 AM

Will Imus be as willing to pimp for the Democrats, assuming he does find a new microphone? Given the way many high ranking Democrats have turned on him?

A number of Democrats have already pledged never to be on his show again.

Not that Democrats are very good at remember their pledges from one month to the next, much less from one year to the next.

Posted by trapeze [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 9:55 AM

For the last week the buzz on conservative talk radio has been all about how the firing of Imus is the prelude to the re-introduction of the "Fairness Doctrine." To say that the tone has been hysterical would be an understatement. I think that the notion that the firing of Imus is the begining of the end for "talk radio as we know it" is patently ridiculous. I seem to remember that there was an attempt to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine back in the early nineties. There was an absolute firestorm of protest that caused the issue to be dropped by congress in record time. And that was when the Democrats controlled congress and the white house.

What I would like to see (and have no illusions that I will) is the rejection of the filthy language that has been injected throughout our popular culture. I would like to see a return to the time when I can watch tv with my young children between the hours of 7 and 9 and know that it will be a pleasant experience. I would like to see a total end to radio stations playing "music" that is rife with obscentities.

I know that the chances of any significant change in our culture's downward spiral are slim and none but if any good can come from the firing of Imus I would say that would be it.

Posted by Immolate [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:04 AM

No doubt Imus will find a lucrative contract with an alternative network without a problem, but his reach in such a venue will be severely limited. How many people used to listen to Howard Stern? How many listen to him now?

Posted by trapeze [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:05 AM

Oh, and a replacement for Imus:

We should only be so lucky that they would choose Randi Rhodes from Air America. Never have I heard a more empty-headed, shrill conspiracy theorist as a voice for the extreme nutjob wing of the left. Really, anyone from Air America would be a great choice to fill Imus' shoes...take your pick. Franken was the only one who was not totally over the top and listening to him was like watching grass grow.

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:15 AM

trapeze wrote: "I would like to see a return to the time when I can watch tv with my young children between the hours of 7 and 9 and know that it will be a pleasant experience."
Forty years ago, what was on TV between 7 and 9 pm was still influenced by what most people, even TV producers, did between 7 and 9am on Sunday (or Saturday.) They went to church or synagogue. Now on the Sabbath, people who produce television are much more likely to be sleeping off a hangover. Am I being too judgemental? I don't think so.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:23 AM

Equally important, Imus gave Democrats a pipeline to a crucial voting bloc that was perennially hard for them to reach: politically independent white men.

Huh? So that was Imus' audience: politically independent white men? And there's no other way to reach these people???

While I am aware that different demographic groups have different viewing and listening habits, the idea that the loss of Imus' show is somehow a blow to dems' brainwashing... er, outreach... strikes me as absurd.

And is this what entertainment and talk radio has become in the minds of politcos? Nothing but a vector to beam their message to discrete voting blocs?

Posted by David [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:24 AM

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are still the shakedown artists of our time. The only difference between Imus and the gaggle of rap artists set on our culture like a pack of jackals is his race.

The basketball team could have accepted his apology and moved on. They passed up an opportunity to be gracious and forgiving but chose the scripted PC route into victim status.

Righteous losers all around.

Posted by rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:32 AM

Imus has always been highly critical of Hillary Clinton. Jesse Jackson is friends with Bill Clinton. Hmmm, Could Jesse & Al be helping out the Clintons here -- they don't seem all that enthused by her main rival, Obama.

Posted by CJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 11:14 AM

While I don't like Imus and his brand of talk show, I believe he was prematurely thrown overboard by both MSNBC and CBS.

Folks who didn't even watch his show as a rule were the ones doing all of the talking and lobbying for him to be fired. What happened to free speech and letting the marketplace decide?

The Imus detractors had more than their say and the marketplace should have been given a chance to work to see if real Imus viewers felt the same way when they let the viewership shrink (or not). If the market share shrunk, both MSNBC and CBS would be fully justified in making a business decision that removed Imus. As it turned out, they didn't even wait for the viewers to speak-- they only listened to non-viewers and a few advertisers that probably would have been replaced with others, until the market share of Imus was shown to shrink.

Imus has been part of a modern day lynching by the professional race baiters and the media groups have succumbed without any battle for free speech.

Posted by McGehee [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 11:33 AM

First they refused to debate on Fox News, and now they've deep-sixed the only nationally known radio host that has tended to be friendly toward their candidates.

After years of Republicans consistently winning the title "Stupid Party," it looks like the dynasty is about to change hands.

Posted by locomotivebreath1901 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 11:39 AM

Imus is an obvious idiot who shot his own foot and insulted some fine young women. But out of the smoke of this idiocy comes the 'spirit' of the liberal 'fairness doctrine' - conform to the party line & approved thought or else. Free speech be damned.

The libs just ate one of their own and will soon make a hard right on the highway of political correctness. Destination: congress legislation
(pay no attention to the sharpton behind the curtain).

I wonder what has done more damage lately? Nifong shredding young lives with legal persecution via the justice system or Imus being stupid and insulting young women?

Oh look. American idol is on.....

Posted by Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 12:02 PM

CJ, "As it turned out, they didn't even wait for the viewers to speak-- they only listened to non-viewers and a few advertisers that probably would have been replaced with others, until the market share of Imus was shown to shrink."

Those were major advertisers that were pulling thier ads CJ, and others were certainly threatening. Both MSNBC and CBS, (GE) had little choice to wait for a "market share" report. Freedom of speech does not limit the rights of investors (stockholders) to pull support for a platform that associates them with percieved racism asshats like Imus.

ED, Am I the only one who has noticed your site is loading like a snail the past few days?

Is it just me?

Posted by Del Dolemonte [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 12:05 PM

rbj said

"Imus has always been highly critical of Hillary Clinton. Jesse Jackson is friends with Bill Clinton. Hmmm, Could Jesse & Al be helping out the Clintons here -- they don't seem all that enthused by her main rival, Obama."

And yes, we have a winner!

This has the Clintons' paw-prints all over it. As you said, Imus has always criticized Mrs. Bill Clinton, even calling her "Satan" on at least one occasion. And she has been quoted as stating she would never go on his show, even if he asked her to.

Now that a prominent anti-Mrs. Bill Clinton critic who had a radio and TV soapbox has been eliminated, it's full steam ahead for Mrs. Bill Clinton.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 12:19 PM

Oh, C-BS just made a big #2.

Don Imus will be baack.


He brings in $20 million in advertising dollars. It's not as if C-BS was providing "free radio" ya know?

The money's on the side where the advertisers come in.

I'm betting that the "indefinite" firing will try to crimp others from offering Imus contracts. Perhaps, in the weeks ahead? We will hear from the lawyers?

Because one of the things Les Moonves just did, is he threw out his cash cow! Had he done this to Katie Couric, he wouldn't have pulled out the stopper on a bathtub full of money.

So much goes down the drain.

As to Don Imus, himself? Good lessons to learn, when you're in the public eye; is to get FREE ABOVE THE CENTERFOLD, first page news. Which is also covered, extensively, today on blogs.

Drudge has devoted lots of column space, linking to others. Even Buchanan's article is a doozy.

Ann Coulter's and Michele Malkin's, as well.

C-BS, meanwhile, hasn't got a chief executive worth his salt, walking the hallways of Black Rock. Plus, today? Even Mary Mapes is LAUGHING!

Dan Rather didn't get another shot. Whatever chairs he fills today, it's not on par with the anchor's chair he held. BEFORE HE LIED.

Imus? No lies. Lots of friends. And, more sympathy, than not.

I expect he will be back better than ever.

And, as long as he waits, without a mike? The contracts that come his way will be stronger, and richer.

So? How will C-BS parse this? When their "indefinite firing" runs into reality? They can't fill the hole they created. Unless they've also got "creative lawyers."

Lots of American salesmen faced suits after they were fired, by the way. For daring to go to work, elsewhere. So even our supreme-O's have chimed in. You can't STOP someone from working elsewhere after you booted him (or her) in the can.

Makes for an interesting pair of Betty Grable legs, ahead. On a story heard round-the-world.

Les Moonves, today, must be very proud. Or? In need of Uncle Matty.

Posted by PersonFromPorlock [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 1:00 PM

McGehee: After years of Republicans consistently winning the title "Stupid Party," it looks like the dynasty is about to change hands.

O, ye of little faith!

Posted by CJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 1:46 PM

You are buying into the propaganda that MSNBC wants the public to believe about the advertising. How do we really know what they just fed us is the truth? It sounded to me that the employees at MSNBC were the most vocal, not the advertisers. Isn't always convenient for a company to put the blame on another group to help them to make a distasteful decision? I have no good reason to believe the announcements that come out of MSNBC as I do to believe the junk that comes from the mouths of Chris Matthews or Keith Olberman.

Posted by viking01 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 2:17 PM

Speaking of what the old alphabet networks want us to believe.... There's excellent commentary on media propaganda given by jPod in "The Corner" at National Review online today.

One topic is ABC media activist Terry Moran's obsession with demeaning the Duke 3 where jPod thoroughly takes Moran to task.

Further down the page is commentary by Michael Rubin about the Van de Velde case at Yale where that man was wrongfully accused of murder while, you guessed it, Brodhead (then also at Yale) was busy polluting matters.

Whether in activist news or academia the Leftist koolaid drinkers apparently can't keep chasing their own tails.

Posted by David2 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 2:57 PM

Imus provided a place where conservatives and leftists could both appear. His show reminded me of that roast they hold every year in DC. In fact, I think he was a speaker there one year and did a fine job of sticking it to Slick. It was hilarious. And we will never know but it may be that Sharpton and Willie's operatives finally had a payback session with the I man.
Or, it may simply have been a fortuitous moment to shift gears. The MSM clearly doesn't want to run with the story about three innocent white men and a sleazy, young black woman. That story ceased to be interesting a few days ago. Imus should not have gone after some other young, black women at this critical juncture. Especially some innocent, hard working, young black women who were just minding their own business. He practically volunteered to be the new poster boy for " evil white man who attacks young, black women. "
He really should have listened to the newscasts once in awhile but he seems to have hated them. Now another meeting place for the two political teams has been destroyed. Humor in America has always had a crude element. It allowed Americans of very different backgrounds to share a moment together.
Something tells me we are heading away from those days and any sharing.

Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 3:13 PM

imus got lynched.......you know it and i know it.

hopefully he shows up on satellite radio to get his payback. payback you ask? how's this for starters. bitch slap the race baiting bigots known as jackson and sharpton on a daily basis. then move on to demanding that the major record labels stop selling rap music with it's endless "nappy headed ho" lyrics. force sharpton and jackson to repudiate, on a weekly basis, the degenerate urban black culture it spawns.

there's plenty more imus can do. say what you will about him but he's had a great 30 years because his of twisted humor, great interviews and all the programs skits were some of the funniest on the air. he was at moments liberal and then conservative. his skits were almost always sarcastically libertarian. he will be missed.
not by many here but by his 14 million listeners.

Posted by trapeze [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 5:40 PM

I will agree that MSNBC is serious about hate speech when they can Olberman...but they won't.

I will also add one other motivation for firing Imus besides the obvious one (loss of ad revenue). The people who run the big corporations (including NBC and CBS) would have to defend their not firing Imus at their dinner parties. After a while they wouldn't get invited to all of the "right" dinner parties. Think they would stand on principle or cave to liberal elitist social pressure from their "peers?"

And, yeah, Cap'n the pages are loading painfully slow in the last 24 to 48 hours or so.

Posted by jaeger51 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 9:49 PM

Oh yawn. It's to the point now where it's all Imus, all the time. What's the big deal? The idiot made a joke, it wasn't funny. As a side note, wouldn't the better crude shock jock joke have been one based on the women's basketball lesbian stereotype? But all in all, the Rutgers women are BETTER off now. I mean, who really paid them any attention before? And one hopes their egos are not that fragile that a comment from Imus would destroy their sense of self worth. I don't care if Imus gets fired or not...what's annoying is the equal and fair response would have been allowing the Rutgers women to call him a funny looking old cracker somewhere in the media. There ya go! Even steven. This isn't a crisis, people. Not a big deal. Don't buy the MSM line that the biggest problem in the world is bigoted white people making a dumb remark. Whatever happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me"?

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 13, 2007 10:56 PM

I'm still hoping to see Consequences flow from this such as Sharpton losing his own show and the Black rappers (or any other rappers, etc.) losing their ability to profit by promoting the misery of others, through the nasty verbal garbage of their "lyrics", etc.

There was a time when I thought our Founding Fathers and their public gazing stocks were inhuman.

Now, I see how they came to decide that public gazing stocks had their fit place in a society.

"Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all of his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties." - Thomas Jefferson; January 1, 1802

Posted by Jim Rockford [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 14, 2007 1:46 AM

Captain --

The political fallout is: Dems/Media have zilch tolerance for middle aged or older white guys who step out of line for PC reasons, but tons for Rappers like Snoop Dog and the like.

Every white guy got the message. One standard for you, one for Snoop. Or Fifty Cent. Or Dr. Dre.

Yes, Imus will be gone, and Dems lose one more small outlet to reach that audience. But that's not the big issue. Which is Mau-Mauing of Middle Aged White Guys. That was the whole point.

And it will have electoral consequences. Identity Politics creates, Identity Politics.

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 14, 2007 4:30 PM

Posted by: Jim Rockford


However, Toady Chappaquiddick Kennedy, Barney Franks, and Robert KKK Byrd all have lifetime passes, thank you.

Posted by sanethinker [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 14, 2007 5:55 PM

I'm glad I can finally get this site to load.
To weigh in on the Imus deal.
The most irritating part is that if Imus were black and the women he called names were white, you would not hear peeps out of Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and if anything they would probably take up for a "black" Imus. That is the real racism in this country. The double standard that is applied.

Posted by CraigC [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 15, 2007 11:20 AM

A pipeline to independent white voters? What on earth are these people talking about? There are only two reasons management will keep a show on the air. One is ratings, and the other is ad revenue. It's true that Imus made a lot of money for WFAN, but his ratings were effectively zero. They managed to sell time based on the cachet of having a show where political heavy hitters appeared. In most markets, the Imus show had ratings so small that they didn't even show up in the book.

Posted by smylatu [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 15, 2007 2:10 PM

The silent majority is really speaking out on the "justice" concerning Imus' idiotic statement, the Duke players' (no)case prosecution, and the call for Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's apology to the Duke players.

See Drudge Report link to Terry Moran's ridiculous article..."ABCNewsreporter: don't feel too sorry for the Dukies"