It’s not rehab, but it’ll do: MSNBC and CBS Radio have decided to suspend Don Imus’ radio/really-cheap-cable-news show for two weeks, starting next Monday. Sounds like a win-win all around for the warring parties. Al Sharpton and Imus’ other detractors get to declare victory, if a limited one; the media giants cut their losses; and Imus gets a couple weeks for the affair to blow over. (And, maybe, for people to forget all those rash promises that he’d tone down his broadcast.)
I’m afraid the biggest winners, though, are the politicians and media bigwigs who have been appearing on Imus’ show for years, after a history of bigoted comments, giving his show the stamp of Washington-elite approval in exchange for publicity and book sales. They can now say, without burning bridges, that they will go back on the new, gentler Imus show, without having to answer any more uncomfortable questions about why they were on the old one in the first place.
One last Imus comment: yesterday CNN linked to my Imus post, turning on the floodgates for comments (well over 700 as I type this). I don’t read many comments when they get that long–if I get that much free time, I’m finishing Gravity’s Rainbow–and I tune out at the first use of ALL CAPS. But one point that got debated was Sharpton’s plan to report Imus to the FCC. I’m pretty libertarian on government-censorship issues, including this one, and I wouldn’t support bringing in the Feds. (I didn’t mention it mainly because Sharpton’s idea seemed so outside the FCC’s legal purview as to be simply blowing smoke.)
The last thing we needed was for anybody to make Imus a First Amendment martyr. Now he’s not going to become that. And he’ll have a couple weeks to figure out what he wants to become next.