Commentary Magazine


The Hack’s Back

Don Imus pretended to be outrageous, then Al Sharpton pretended to be outraged, forcing Imus to pretend to be contrite and the radio industry to pretend to banish him.

Now, the Tom Wolfery continues. The pseudo-political talk-show host returned to the air today with two new black sidekicks (an after-the-fact bit of racial pandering that actually is outrageous), and sold out New York City’s Town Hall for the event. Ticket sales are going to—need I even tell you—the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids With Cancer.

This morning Imus referred to his comments about Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team. According to the New York Times, Imus said:

“I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me . . . and no one else will say anything on my program that will make anyone think I did not deserve a second chance.”

I’ve always maintained this whole bonfire of the inanities wouldn’t have ignited if Imus were actually funny. The original spark, “They look like a bunch of nappy-headed hos,” simply isn’t a joke. It’s barely an attempt at one, and is purely and simply offensive in a number of ways. According to several accounts, Imus actually does have a bit of a race issue. I was happy to see him go, even if I was unhappy to celebrate in the company of hypocritical provocateurs like Sharpton.

Imus started out his radio career as a bona fide shock jock. When he began reading the op-ed page people called him smart; when he showed his true colors they condemned him. His return is an unsurprising acknowledgment of our ever-plunging standards. What’s worse is it’s demonstration that concepts like prejudice and enlightenment are now nothing more than phases in clashing PR campaigns. Which it to say they mean precisely nothing.

Update: Sharpton pretends to be encouraged.