The thing I got out of the Sunday morning talk shows was that many in Big Media were enablers of Don Imus. On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanoplolous admitted to appearing on the show. On NBC’s Meet the Press, host Tim Russert and David Brooks of the New York Times noted their appearances on the show. One of them mentioned that high-profile media and politicians were happy to get that demographic of mostly young people who don’t watch the traditional news or attend political rallies. Apparently, the conversation within NBC over the “correct response” to Imus’ comments was rather intense; next week’s TV Guide suggests that Al Roker’s “it could have been my daughter” speech held the day. Brooks was self-admittedly being disingenuous when he claimed that he didn’t know what was on the Imus show, except for his own segment. Given that both Time and Newsweek had cover stories on in the late 1990s, this perhaps seems not credible.
But as the conversations inevitably headed in the “Who can say what?” territory, I did find a bit of possible, albeit lame evidence. Some folks noted that politicians have embraced rappers who have used the same kind of language. It is true for me that I don’t listen to a lot of rap, specifically because of the lyric content that denigrates women, lifts up thuggery and dismisses education; I hear it, and I turn it off. I’d be hard pressed to identify any rapper to a specific song since the early 1990s, save for a few that were so popular or so controversial that I couldn’t help but to know. And yes, I know that other music can be misogynistic and that not all rap is.
This, it has occurred to me that with a three-year old, I’m going to have to start listening to more music and radio that I don’t particularly enjoy, if only to be in touch with the messages she may be subjected to. That’s what PBS’ Gwen Ifill does for her seven-year-old goddaughter, she noted on Meet the Press. Eh. I haven’t listened to Imus since he was a local DJ in the 1970s, though I certainly knew his rep.
I also got specifically annoyed with George Will on ABC, who though one of the Rutgers players as harmed for life as disingenuous. I don’t think he understands the context: denigrated initially, then denigrated again for, in the minds of some, getting Imus fired, receiving hate mail and threats. A 20-year old feeling threatened is not the advancement of the “victim market.”
Sunday, of course, was also the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major league appearance. Some 200 players, managers and coaches were wearing Robinson’s number 42, which had been retired a decade earlier. (Unfortunately, a goodly number of east coast games, which were free on cable just for the weekend, were postponed because of the rain, but I did enjoy seeing the commercials on FSN South and especially FSN Bay area – what is that store logo that looks like SpongeBob SquarePants?) I found the tributes, especially the pregame before the Dodgers-Padres matchup on ESPN, when Jackie’s widow Rachel was given an award by the baseball commisioner, to be surprisingly moving.
My wife asked if anyone had made a link between Don Imus and Jackie Robinson. Actually, ABC News did, as it named Jackie Robinson its Person of the Week, noting that much had been accomplished, but with much more to be done. Oh, and I discovered that Rachel Robinson’s birthday is July 19, 1922 – looking very spry – while Don Imus’ is July 23, 1940.
Oh, BTW, GayProf, guess which one of the 16 baseball teams of the 1940s and 1950s was the last to integrate? (Answer is within the labels to this post.)
My prayers to the Virginia Tech community, and to us all.