Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Media Culpa - The delicious irony of liberals versus liberals vis-a-vis the Imus kerfuffle has not been lost on this scribbler. (Liberalism is much like the legal profession; as is many times the case with attorneys, one often needs the support of one progressive to defend against the professional conduct of another.) The Left has endured a long-standing rift between its elites and the teeming unwashed that it claims to represent, and occasionally that split puts liberalism's race hucksters at odds with its media sages. Such is surely the case in this instance.

To be sure, most liberal media elites - while expressing a sort of strained sympathy for the women of Rutgers' basketball team - have lined up where they have been all along, which is on Imus' side. Recent "Imus In The Morning" guests have included Frank Rich and Tom Friedman of
The New York Times, Washington Post writers Katherine Graham, Howard Kurtz, Dana Priest and Anne Hull, Anna Marie Cox of Time and Jonathan Alter, Howard Fineman, Evan Thomas and editor-in-chief Jon Meacham of Newsweek, CBS' Bob Schieffer, NBC's Tim Russert, David Gregory, Craig Crawford, Richard Engel, Chris Hansen and Brian Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, CNN's Lou Dobbs and Jeff Greenfield and PBS' Jim Lehrer.

As stated elsewhere, none of them seems to feel the need to apologize for abetting or failing to condemn Imus' past behavior. Indeed, there is more concern that Imus may be apologizing too much, and that he is the victim of a manufactured outrage. It appears that the only media people who have gotten on the right side of this are Al Roker and Gwen Ifill.

On the day after Imus' appearance on Al Sharpton's radio program, "Imus In The Morning" hosted HBO's Bill Maher and the afore-mentioned Jeff Greenfield. Bill Maher's comments reveal the extent of the divide between black and white liberals.

I'm going to say what I feel and what I feel is yeah, you said a really bad, dumb joke, it was lame, and it was insulting. No one would want to take credit for that joke. It was wrong, but you know after you say you're sorry a few times, I think then it's on other people, if they can't accept an apology. I just think there is so much in this country about making people go away for a mistake. It's a mistake, you apologized, and you know you don't lose your livelihood. I don't understand that people have to lose there livelihood because they made one rotten joke. It's like nobody in this country can have one moment of discomfort. If you were made to feel one moment of discomfort, the person who caused it has to go away and that's just ridiculous. Yeah it was a bad joke, it was real creepy but after that people move on, you know. Don't listen to it anymore. You will lose some black listeners and that should be your punishment. (Emphasis added.)
It is clear that Mr. Maher is confused about a few things. First of all, Imus' comments did not cause "discomfort" because they were directed at Al or Jesse or another public figure, black or otherwise. They were directed at adolescents (i.e.: they were approximately the age of the models Mr. Maher likes to "date.") We have become aware that five of these women of Rutgers were preparing for high school proms and graduations this time last year. Secondly, these young ladies were private citizens, not media types with a pulpit from which to attack or defend - at least not until earlier this week.

But just as salient is the fact that Bill Maher would be ready and willing to make George Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, Condolezza Rice, et. al. "go away." Impeachment would seem to be his preferred method, but at least as it pertains to Cheney, Maher would certainly settle for removal by other means.

Now as for Jeff Greenfield - now ex of CNN, as he was recently appointed a senior political correspondent at CBS - his comments to Imus were more revealing and much more egregious.
It is true I think that your show makes fun of black people in a different way than you make fun of white people...I think it is far to say that when you parody black people they all sound the same, sort of a 19th century mushmouth minstrel thing. And I think that comes from a more general notion that like all comedic insult type humor, you look for the most obvious thing to parody. One of the things that I think would be really useful in the two weeks that you're off, is not to swear off making fun of black people who do dumb things...but you may want to think about how you do that in a way that isn't the most obvious stereotypical comment to make about someone's skin color. (Emphasis added.)
So if Mr. Greenfield is to be believed, he was aware that for a significant part of Imus' 30-plus years on the air, Imus was hurling despicable racial epithets. If Mr. Greenfield was genuinely troubled by Imus' disparagements over all of that time, why did he continue to make appearances on the show, and why didn't he express his discomfort prior to now?

The answer of course is as clear as water; to Greenfield, as with Maher and the others, the promulgation of liberalism by any means is more important that liberalism's attendant effects on its supposed beneficiaries. The truly remarkable thing about all of this is that despite this current intra-party contretemps, progressives will be sufficiently united such that the oppressors (i.e.: Imus and his media consorts) and the "oppressed" (Al, Jesse and African Americans more generally) will be able to vote for the same Democrat candidates in November of 2008. If Al Sharpton wanted to launch a truly meaningful protest, he could do worse than to propose a total boycott of liberalism.

No comments: