My Evening With Hannity and Colmes Part II: The Media Matters Version
My infamous run-in with Hannity and Colmes has now been immortalized on the liberal media watchdog's web site, focusing on Alan Colmes' contention that Don Imus is a satirist whose racist humor should be condoned because its presented as a joke.
Near as I can tell, it's a pretty dead-on recounting of what went down, highlighting both Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes a attempts to turn the issue into a referendum on Chris Rock instead of looking at the substance of Imus' work. (isn't Colmes supposed to be a liberal who cares about issues like, say, stereotyping and sexism and anti-Semitism, anyway?) Here's Imus' original comment.
DEGGANS: He was basically off for a few months -- he was basically off for a few months. He negotiated a very lucrative end to his contract with CBS Radio, and now he's returning to the air essentially without fully apologizing for what he actually did wrong.
COLMES: Well, first of all, he did apologize. He went on Al Sharpton's show and apologized. Al Sharpton accepts him back. Jesse Jackson accepts him back. The team that he allegedly insulted -- I would say "satirized" -- they accepted his apology. Why can't you?
DEGGANS: I think Don Imus hasn't really apologized for what he's done wrong. What he did wrong was build a 25- to 30-year broadcasting career on humor that's racist and that exaggerates stereotypes.
DEGGANS: There's examples going back 15 years, 20 years, where he's called Gwen Ifill, who was then with The New York Times, a cleaning lady. He called another person of color who was an official a quota hire. He's called Howard Kurtz from Washington Post a "beanie-wearing, hook-nosed Jew." I mean, he's used the kind of humor that has been abandoned by other --
COLMES: He also goes after people from the South, on Oklahoma, Okies like he is. He goes after everybody. That's his act. Everybody knew that was his act. They knew that was his act when they hired him. It was in his contract. If they decided to act on letting him go because of those things, he ought to get a warning, which he didn't get, which is why he got a settlement.
And, again, what about the free marketplace? You don't like that kind of humor, you don't find it humorous, don't tune out [sic]. Other people have the opportunity to hear what he's got to say if they choose to listen. If advertisers choose to support it, and if ratings will substantiate his appearance, what's wrong with that?
DEGGANS: That's the mistake that you're making, is that you're boiling this down to one comment. This is not about one comment. This is about a 25- to 30-year history of cracking these kind of jokes.
What I find most interesting about this satire defense is that it's not a defense Imus himself used initially to explain his actions. What he said when the controversy first erupted was that he was being "thoughtless and stupid" by going after a group of talented students who were not public people. He never said he was playing a character or poking fun at the type of person who would use such language -- which is what a satire would presumably involve.
Seems obvious to me that those who want to like Imus will grab any straw to excuse his actions and those of us who find him objectionable feel our assessments have been confirmed a thousand times from his own mouth.
At any rate, if you didn't get to see our little conflict, surf to the Media Matters site and check it out there...