Friday, April 13, 2007

Imus and Free Speech

I've just heard someone try to make the Imus issue a free speech debate. This is not a free speech issue.

US Constitution - Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Imus was not fired by the government.To my knowledge, there was no complaint that the FCC responded to that caused Imus' dismissal. If there were complaints, I didn't hear one word mentioned about it during the media feeding frenzy on Imus' comments regarding the Rutgers Women's Basketball team.

Imus was fired by the private corporation he worked for; that corporation has the right to tell him what he can and cannot say. Sponsors have the right to pull their advertising if they feel they may be harmed by what an on air personality says on his program which they support with their advertising dollars.

The free speech that was apparent on this issue were the protests and calls for Imus' firing. The air waves are public and the public responded. Was it sensationalized? Yes. Was it blown out of proportion? Perhaps. Is there a double standard? Definitely, but that doesn't make the comments made by Imus any less hateful, any less racial, any less sexually degrading to the people on the receiving end. Others have been fired for racially motivated comments, and for this there cannot be a double standard. Firing Imus, whose program was in the top 10 in the country as far as revenue was concerned, showed us that CBS had the guts to do the right thing, in my opinion, regardless of how it was going to affect them financially. Imus was bringing in $15 million annually.

If this is truly where we are headed as a community (and I think it's a good thing) then there has to be continued scrutiny on the truly hateful on air personalities that make a living spewing their hate-filled rhetoric. This cannot end with Imus. Let's keep an eye on the Rush Limbaughs, the Mike Savages, the Glenn Becks, and the Melanie Morgans of the airwaves.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Fired

CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show Thursday, the final blow for the broadcaster who called the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.”

Imus initially was suspended for two weeks for calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” on the air last week, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his programs.

The Lost E-Mails

Just when you though it was safe to go back into the Department of Justice... WATERGATE REDUX!

So the 3000+ pages of documents and e-mails that the White House provided as part of their "generous offer" were filled with redacted pages, blocked out information, etc. etc. ... we all know that by now. We now learn that the White House "is being accused of improperly
trying to hide e-mails about government business by using unofficial e-mail accounts.
Congressional investigators say they found communications on one account from top White House aides about official matters, like the December firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
Those e-mails were discovered on a Republican National Committee e-mail domain called That domain is not part of the official White House communication system."

GWB43... what a creative name! Especially for an e-mail system that no one is supposed to know about. These guys are soooooooo smart. Of course, the White House is defending its position by saying that the outside e-mail account was used for separating government business from political campaign work.

The Presidential Records Act, passed during the Nixon administration, requires the preservation of all official records of and about the president.

And here's the kicker: a chain of e-mails "...illustrated the type of exchange taking place on the account. The e-mails began with a February 2003 message from [from now-imprisoned lobbyist Jack] Abramoff to Susan Ralston, the former executive assistant to President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove.

In the chain, Abramoff advised Ralston that an upcoming Interior Department gaming compact with a Louisiana Indian tribe would be "an anathema to our supporters down there."

When an associate notified him that his e-mail had been forwarded to another White House aide, Abramoff replied, "Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her RNC pager and was not supposed to go into the WH (White House) system."

"Now we are learning that the 'off book' communications they were having about these actions, by using Republican political email addresses, have not been preserved," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor.
He added, "Like the famous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes, it appears likely that key documentation has been erased or misplaced. This sounds like the Administration's version of 'the dog ate my homework.'"

Leahy also vehemently said that he doesn't believe the e-mails were lost, deleted, or misplaced. "You can't erase e-mails. Not today. They've gone through too many servers. They can't say they've been lost."

Vote For Me - I Don't Care What You Think

I wasn’t going to blog about this because it’s now a four day old story and hopefully everyone knows about it. My cynical side unfortunately thinks that more people probably know who the father of Anna Nicole’s baby is than what John McCain had to say in a 60 Minutes interview. After going back and reading my previous posts however, I thought it best to comment on it and bring this McCain chapter to a close, albeit temporarily.

It seems that the Straight Talk Express has rolled off the highway yet again and admitted as much. John McCain, one of the Republican contenders for the Presidential Primary basically said he doesn't really care about the wants of the American people his struggling campaign is desparate for. Seems like the Bush "my way or the highway" attitude we so love.

PELLEY: I wonder, at what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?

MCCAIN: Well again, I disagree with what the majority of the American people want.

Dead man walking. With that one sentence, McCain killed any hope of a Presidential run.

But there’s more. Mr. Straight Talk was then asked about certain comments that he made regarding the safety in Baghdad after his "safe stroll" though Baghdad's Shorja marketplace:

PELLEY: Before you came on this trip, you mentioned in an interview that General Petraeus sometimes goes into Baghdad in an unarmored Humvee, and that there were neighborhoods that you could walk throughout without being concerned for your safety.

MCCAIN: There is no unarmored Humvees -- obviously, that's the case. I'm trying to make the point over and over and over again that we are making progress. And there are signs of progress, that it's long, and it's hard and it's tough. To take one sentence of mine out of 1,000 -- you know, life isn't fair. But the fact is that's my message.

PELLEY: You were a little annoyed with yourself, I think, having said that.

MCCAIN: Oh, sure. But look, as long as you are as open to the media as I am, of course I'm going to misspeak. I have done it on numerous occasions, and I probably will in the future. I regret that when I divert attention to something that I've said from my message. But, you know, that's just life, and I'm happy, frankly, with the way that I operate. Otherwise, it'd be a lot less fun.

Substitute the word “lie” for the word “misspeak” and it’s all too clear. And he's happy with the way he operates? Sure, he'll lie if he can get away with it. If he gets caught, well, oops, heh heh, you got me.

And that line about “life isn’t fair” surely fits now, not for McCain but for 21 shopkeepers of the very market Mr. Straight Talk strolled through that were executed the day after his neighborhood walk. I haven’t heard very much about that in the liberal media. But I suppose "that's just life", right Maverick?

All aboard the Straight Jacket Express.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus' Apology and the FOX News Spin

Radio talk show host Don Imus has been suspended for making racially insensitive comments regarding the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team, the Cinderella story of this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament, reaching the finals but losing to Tennessee.

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

The fact that Imus and his sidekicks have been making comments like this for years is not the point. What I find bizarre is that 1) its taken this long for Imus to fall out of the frying pan and into the fire and 2) the “punishment” is a two week suspension.

Two weeks? That is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. Many have been fired for comments less reprehensible. Imus has apologized and being a former listener, his apology sounded genuine to my ears. He definitely seemed embarrassed and humiliated. Many are still calling for his firing, including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Imus did make an appearance on Al Sharpton’s radio show. Here is his apology...

and part of the Sharpton interview.

Unfortunately, our decent, fair and balanced friends at FOX News took the opportunity to show how maligned conservatives are in the “liberal media” world, claiming that if this had been a conservative talk show host, he or she would have been skewered, but since Imus “leans left” it’s not a big deal. Conservatives are treated differently.

First of all, calling Imus left wing is way off the mark. What left winger has Mary Matalin, Joe Lieberman and Ann Coulter on as regular guests? But they are right about one thing: conservatives do get treated differently.

Has anyone called for the firing of John Gibson?

GIBSON: “Do your duty. Make more babies. That's a lesson drawn out of two interesting stories over the last couple of days.
First, a story yesterday that half of the kids in this country under five years old are minorities. By far, the greatest number are Hispanic. You know what that means? Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic. Why is that? Well, Hispanics are having more kids than others. Notably, the ones Hispanics call "gabachos" -- white people -- are having fewer.”

I’m sure the resignation of Glenn Beck is coming soon, isn’t it?

BECK (to Rep. Keith Ellison): “And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’"

How about the King of the Swine, Rush Limbaugh?

LIMBAUGH: "Hey, Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement: Halfrican American actress Halle Berry. "As a Halfrican American, I am honored to have Ms. Berry's support, as well as the support of other Halfrican Americans," Obama said.
He didn't say it, but ..."

Yes, I suppose FOX News is right. Limbaugh and Beck and Gibson and Coulter and Hannity and on and on and on, don't really fall under the same standards. They are so poorly treated.

Here’s Dan Abrams subbing in for Joe Scarborough attacking FOX News for their spin on the Imus suspension.