CBS fires Imus

From MarketWatch:

CBS Corp. said Thursday it has canceled Don Imus’s morning show, effective immediately, after a firestorm of controversy caused by his racially-charged remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Several key advertisers had pulled their ads from the show in recent days following calls for Imus’s firing. In a statement, CBS Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves said individuals throughout CBS “have been deeply upset and revulsed” by Imus’s statements. He added: “In our meetings with concerned groups, there has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society.” On his April 4 broadcast, Imus called the members of the predominantly African-American Rutgers team “nappy-headed ho’s.”

Sadly, this action won’t make a difference if language usage that gives rise to double standards around use of such offensive stuff doesn’t change. And what does it do to free speech?

If you care about this debate, you have got to listen to this.

4 thoughts on “CBS fires Imus

  1. Paul and Redhorse: I agree – the decision was a business one, not a moral one, at least from my perspective. But it’s all wrapped up together, almost the way Bush wraps up Iraq with Al Qaeda and we don’t buy it.It’s been very quiet on the Imus front since VaTech and I’ve been too busy to check in. By the time I get doing so, he’ll probably be back on the air.

  2. RedHorse: The point I was trying to make is that Imus was pulled from the air for business reasons, not moral ones. P&G is the largest consumer products maker in the world, and I suspect just about everyone is their customer. They just couldn’t take the risk of offending their broad customer base, although one needs to ask the question why P&G advertised on Imus in the first place. I guess if you’re trying to reach everyone, any sponsorship opportunity can be a good one. Imus’ remarks might have contributed to improved sales of the P&G products purchased by his listeners, but P&G must have ultimately decided that the amount of sales lift they get from Imus’ audience would have been less than the sales volume lost because of people being outraged enough by Imus’ comments to stop buying P&G products (of course, most people wouldn’t care enough to change their buying habits anyway).The intent was to question whether CBS would have fired Imus if his sponsors were someone whose customers had a different demographic profile than that of P&G customers, and the sponsors hadn’t pulled their advertising because they didn’t feel the customers would be offended by the association of Imus to their products. I picked NASCAR and Jack Daniels as example companies. Not the best picks perhaps but I suspect the fraction of NASCAR fans and Jack Daniels drinkers who support Imus is larger than the fraction of the general population. How about if I substitute Maryland Brand Management, Inc, owner of Big Johnson t-shirts, for this illustration?The point I’m trying to make is that P&G made a business decision based on statistics and demographics, not morality. It shouldn’t take P&G a few days to decide if Imus offended their sense of morality. But it does take a few days to analyze the potential business impact.Last and most important point: Your ‘boner-nosed Jew-boy’ label is astonishingly offensive to me. It’s a testament to Jill’s journalistic integrity that she would even let your comment get through.PL

  3. Paul, explain what racing or whiskey has to do with Imus. Last I paid attention to either, and that’s fairly recently, neither spewed nonsense about nappy headed hos or boner-nosed Jew boys.Seriously. Lame by proxy.

  4. Seems to me that the whole dialog about free speech tends to be a little one-sided. Imus is certainly free to say whatever idiotic thing he wants, but there is no requirement that his employer give him a forum for doing so. That might spill over into a freedom of the press argument (does radio serve the same communication function as did the newspapers 250 years ago?), but does Imus have that standing?I’m a little disappointed that CBS waited for their advertiser to weigh in before making a decision. That put yet another black mark on their image as far as I’m concerned. The loss of civility in this country was facilitated by the mass media who has constantly sought to push the limits. I’m not sure it has all been for the good.But maybe the money path creates a valid analog of public sentiment. If P&G pulls its advertising because it believes its customers would take offense to Imus’ remarks and therefore jeopardize its hard-earned and expensive-to-maintain image, does this not directly give the public a voice?Maybe that kind of thinking only works for P&G. There are probably few homes in American without a P&G product somewhere on the shelves. What if it had been NASCAR or Jack Daniels who sponsored Imus — would they have pulled their advertising?PL

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