Corporate herd mentality led CBS to ax Imus

Speaking of Newsmakers, Cliff Montiero, president of the Providence chapter of the NAACP, joined us for the show's last segment to discuss the Imus controversy.

(For what it's worth, let's remember that there's a connection between political power and those who seek and attain elected office.)

Like Matt, Montiero, a veteran of the civil rights movement, wholeheartedly supports the decision by CBS to sever ties with Imus.

Here's a contrary view, in a guest blog item by Brian C. Jones:

We almost got the better Imus that many of us had wanted for so long – the one without the racism and sexism.

But corporate America, as usual, messed it all up.

With advertisers scrambling for the lifeboats during the bad news storm, Don Imus is gone from the airwaves, with first MSNBC and now CBS giving him the boot, well-deserved, but ill-conceived.

There was nothing moral about the corporate stampede. It was just business. Just like it was just business when these same advertisers and networks rode with Imus for so many years – knowing with certainty that part of the Imus ranch was pure barnyard.

Everybody knew that program had a despicable side.

Just as everyone knew about the other Imus – the fabulous interviewer, the music junkie, the guy who knew how to cut through the bombast, the conversationalist that allowed politicians and journalists, for once, to sound human and get more than a sound bite’s chance to talk to America.

The remarkable storm that erupted when he slurred the New Jersey women’s basketball team created a unique opportunity:

The controversy had the potential to sweep out the deliberate, programmed and cynical race- and sex- baiting that had always been part of the Imus formula.

Purged of the dark side, then the real experiment would have begun:

Would good country music, serious political discussion, unique satire and genuine humor have been enough to produce big audiences, big ratings and big success?

Or was the audience that tuned in the Good Imus just rationalizing and really a minority?

Was the audience that really counted really the bigots, the racists and the misogynists?

We’ll never know.

Because the corporations, instead of trying to reform Imus, and preserve something unique in broadcasting, simply joined the stampede.

And as usual, they left the customers without any say in the matter. The Imus program would have been different had it stayed on the air. And then car radios and kitchen televisions could have decided whether it was too little, too late.

This is the same kind of corporate herd mentality that’s messing up so much of America. These are the kind of guys that prefer mergers to product innovation, layoffs to job creation, executive pay to a living wage.

These are the kind of guys that can’t even build a good car any more. And now they’ve passed up a chance to build a better Imus.

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