Tuesday, April 10, 2007
From The Chicago Sun-Times…
It’s time to let air out of MSNBC’s shameful broadcasts
By JESSE JACKSON
Does MSNBC peddle bigotry for profit? It’s hard to imagine any other reason for keeping Don Imus and his “Imus in the Morning” on the air. Imus has good ratings, at least compared with MSNBC generally, so the network “simulcasts” his radio show.
On April 4, Imus’ foul show took up the women’s basketball championship game, which featured an underdog Rutgers team against favored Tennessee. The Rutgers team -- comprising eight African-American women and two whites -- which made it to the finals by playing suffocating team defense, in the end succumbed to the talented Tennessee squad.
Imus opened the bit by saying that he had watched the game. His sidekick Sid Rosenberg announced the score. Whereupon Imus took the conversation into the mud: “That’s some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos,” said Imus. His executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, interrupted: “Some hard-core hos.” Imus added insult: “That’s some nappy-headed hos there.”
McGuirk then compared the Rutgers team to Tennessee, suggesting it was a “Spike Lee thing.” “The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.” (In Spike Lee’s movie “School Daze,” there was a rivalry between the dark-skinned Jigaboos and the light-skinned Wannabes.)
This is vile bigotry. Imus doesn’t know these young women. He’s racially taunting young women who have worked tirelessly to succeed at the highest levels of college sport.
Just humor, Imus said, initially refusing to apologize; just some idiot comment meant to be amusing. After two days of furor, Imus apologized for “an insensitive and ill-conceived remark.” But it’s not an isolated instance. Only a month earlier, when Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Selma, Ala., on the anniversary of the 1965 march that produced “Bloody Sunday,” McGuirk said she was “trying to sound black in front of a black audience,” suggesting she’ll “have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with Obama is over.”
Imus once scorned PBS anchor Gwen Ifill, one of the few African-American anchors on television, as “a cleaning lady.” McGuirk dismissed Sen. Barack Obama as that “young colored fella.”
Former New York media critic Philip Nobile has documented Imus’ repeat racist offenses. He reports that Imus admitted to “60 Minutes” that McGuirk was brought on “to do nigger jokes.” Imus or his cohorts have called Patrick Ewing “the missing link,” Shaquille O’Neal “a carjacker in shorts,” the New York Knicks “chest-bumping pimps,” the Williams sisters “two booma-chucka, big-butted women,” and the Indian men’s doubles team “Gunga Din and Sambo.”
The list can go on. Imus is protected by his cache of insiders in Washington.
On MSNBC, of course, African-American anchors can respond to Imus, and reply to his racist jibes, giving as well as they get. Not. In fact, there are no -- zero -- African-American hosts on MSNBC. The network practices the discrimination that Imus peddles.
It is a stark statement of our times that a national network airs this trash. MSNBC clearly has no sense of common decency. We should recognize them for what they are. There is no reason for any African American or any person of conscience to listen to MSNBC. There is no reason to purchase any goods from any advertiser that sponsors or appears alongside the Imus show. We can at least take the profit out of peddling garbage.