More on Don Imus: Like Tony Soprano, a misunderstood guy.

More on Don Imus: Like Tony Soprano, a misunderstood guy.

Lots of reaction to Saturday’s post about Don Imus. It attracted more comments than any other post. Thank you all for participating.

Like all of you who left comments, I am (was?) also a huge Imus fan, and have been for over 20 years. So let me start by pointing out that the quote about Imus going “off the deep end” was said by an Emory University business professor, not me. Unfortunately, I neglected to include the link, so I’ll add it here.

I saw the “nappy headed ho” comment live as it happened, and it didn’t even register a blip in my Outrage Meter. It was obviously just an offhand comment, a spontaneous ad lib, not meant maliciously. It was just part of the Imus in the Morning routine. Regular (and even irregular) viewers knew he didn’t mean it.

However, it was probably a mistake to direct a comment like that toward young college athletes like that. So-called “public figures” (like Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Al Roker) are fair game, but not young kids.

Another point: When you look at Imus’s words in print, they look hateful, racist and indefensible. But seen/heard in the context of his show, they were actually pretty tame. But Sharpton, Roker et al pounced on it and made them seem far more hateful and incendiary.

Imus’s ranting — about autism, Thimerosal, Greening the Cleaning, Auto Body Express, even Whittaker Chambers — has long been an integral part of his act. But I don’t think it’s an “act” at all — just part of his personality. He routinely rails against the foibles of many ethnic and demographic groups, religions, stereotypes of all sorts.

I certainly do not believe Imus is a racist. If anything, he’s a curmudgeon, a cranky old grouch. I’ve never met him, but people who know him personally have told me that that’s who he is, that’s his authentic self. He isn’t afraid to be unlikable. He’s real — no wonder he was such an effective communicator. Name one other person in the blow-dried media who reveals their authentic self…

Of course, Imus is also a performer who put on a great show. He brought in terrific guests, asked good questions, then actually gave them the time to answer, instead of constantly interrupting and badgering them like most Talking TV Heads. (Yeah, I’m talking about you, Bill O’Reilly.) His in-depth interviews and live musical performances by often-ignored talents were a delight and a rarity in today’s ratings-obsessed media.

He was also rich enough that he didn’t care if anyone listened/watched or not. Imus did what HE wanted to do, and screw anyone who didn’t like it. That authenticity attracted millions of listeners and viewers, which in turn attracted sponsors and big bucks. Both have now left MSNBC and CBS radio once they booted Imus.

With his telethons and other campaigns, he did a lot of good. Like NPR pledge breaks, I personally couldn’t listen to them, but I applaud his efforts to use his fame to do good. I admire him for that.

And like many of you commenters, I haven’t watched MSNBC since. It’s part protest, but mostly because there is virtually nothing worth watching on that channel or any other. I’m on a media fast of sorts. Clears the mind. It’s good for you.

BTW, many commenters mentioned they’re boycotting Procter & Gamble. Good for you. Personally, my family hasn’t bought their products in years. Not because of Imus, but because they test their products on live animals, often blinding and maiming them in the process. An inexcusable and barbaric practice.

Finally, it’s interesting that all this reaction came just as The Sopranos was ending its long run on HBO. Like Imus, Tony Soprano is one misunderstood guy. Like Imus, the Sopranos is seen as profane, casting negative stereotypes, etc.

Most of all, what Sopranos executive producer Terence Winter said about networks applies equally to Imus:

“They live in fear of offending anybody. If one guy writes in and says, ‘I’m never going to buy Ivory soap again because you had a joke in your show about albinos and I’m an albino,’ you will get a memo the next day: ‘No more albino jokes.’ They don’t have the courage of their convictions.”

And so it goes…

  1. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    This time your absolutely correct. The written transcript of the April 4, 2007 IMUS program does not portray what was really happening. If seen as on YOUTUBE people will see it as an ill conceived comment. Now Joe Scarborough, the Wannabee “IMUS” did something worse by making a comment regarding Fred Thompson’s Wife. He should have been put on a two week suspension. And you would have to have seen the smirk on his face when he said it. The transcript of that show seemed harmless. But “Working the Pole?”
    The Imus supporters do not care about MSNBC, CBS, or NBC. Nor do they care about the sponsors that were frightened, and threatened to pull the advertising dollars. Well those 10 Million people have boycotted all of them and the stations mentioned above.

    10 Million is bigger then 10 Thousand. This time you put it in perspective. Thank you.
    Bruce from Florida

  2. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    Well said and I hope the “powers that be” have recognized that this whole thing has turned on them. I never have considered boycotting for anything but I have for this. No more MSNBC, CBS or NBC or P&G products. Imus is the man and we just want him back.

  3. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    well in most cases I like dogs better than most people & have found dogs to be excellent judges of character…P&G animal testing, double bonus to boycott…the pandora’s box opened by upstanding sharpton, sans any skeletons in his closet, compliments of has created a nation of apologists, but wait apologies don’t mean anything anymore either….people better start to get it & stop being sheeple as they are being tested on too….BOYCOTTING MSNBC/CBS/known sponsors of limiting choice, Ms. M

  4. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    Thank you for your follow-up article on Imus. Millions of us Imus fans that have watched/listened to him over the years have known for a long time that he is a good man, humanitarian and a great patriot.

    There will never be another Imus and that’s why we want and need him back.

    We will continue to boycott MSNBC, CBS, everyone and everything until he is back on the air.

    Thank you again.

  5. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    Thanks, finally something written about Don Imus by someone who actually listened/watched the show. In April, we could have used some of his famous guests to remind Moonves/Capus that Don Imus is not a racist and did not mean his comments maliciously…..

    Don Imus was our curmudgeon and we miss him terribly. I listened to him for over 10 years before he became my son’s champion. So as the parent of an autistic child, I miss him doubly – he kept us well informed and used his show as a platform to speak for those of us w/ these children. Mr. Moonves and Capus did not care about us or our children when they fired him. We’re not giving up though and we, his loyal fans, will get him back on the air where he deserves to be – not time for him to hang up his cowboy hat just yet.

  6. Tom McKayTom McKay06-11-2007

    Wasn’t it terribly disappointing to see so many longtime Imus guests turn their backs and abandon him when the sh^t hit the fan? After all his years of giving them a prominent platform to speak out (and plug their books), it’s tragic that so few of them had the guts to speak out in his support. As Imus himself would say, they’re gutless weasels…

    Hey, I’m very curious about the demographics of all you vocal Imus supporters. As you know, networks live and die by demographics, i.e., audience age and gender. If you don’t mind, would you post your age and sex.

    If you prefer not to give your exact age, just give a range, e.g., 18-25, 35-49, 50-60, 60+ etc. It would be interesting to see how many of you are in those coveted demographics. (Personally, I am [sad to say] well beyond the prized 18-49 demo.)

    How about you?

    – Tom

  7. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    31 male

  8. TT06-11-2007

    52 F

  9. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    I am divorced mother in Maine. Age 57. Started listening 5 years ago. Completely hooked on him. And THANK YOU for your comments about the “gutless weasels” that bailed on him. And I’m talking about you, Brian Williams and Howard Fineman. etc., etc. I thought from the beginning that this was a witch hunt and as every day goes by (60 and counting) it is more obvious. As Don and Deidre said, the hypocrisy is incredible.

  10. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    60+ female.

    Imus was so much a part of my day I have not been the same since it was jerked from the air. He had a truly unique program that could keep you interested for the three hours.

  11. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    38 – F

    My mornings are miserable without Imus.

    Proud to be an I-Ho

  12. Linda SLinda S06-11-2007

    52 – F from Alabama. Thank you for your follow-up!

  13. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    white female, 62, disenfranchised ex-dem, newly independent, retired, avid reader & audiophile, BIG proponent of FREE choice, thought & speech, tired of politics as usual, definately a reformist. believe Imus got screwed & we viewers did as well. Want him back & will boycott till that happens…BOYCOTTING MSNBC/CBS….Ms. M

  14. jmccaul1jmccaul106-11-2007

    I will continue boycotting and waiting for the day Imus returns. I would love to see his take on so many issues of the day.

    I am 53 year old male.

  15. AnonymousAnonymous06-11-2007

    34 female

  16. saad-osaad-o06-12-2007

    Thank you for the follow-up…Male, 43, VERY determined to boycott anyone who weaseled on Imus until Hades freezes!!

  17. Tom McKayTom McKay06-12-2007

    Great comments! Thank you all!

    My favorite so far:

    “My mornings are miserable without Imus.Signed, Proud to be an I-Ho”


    PS: Interesting demographic spread too.

  18. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    appreciate your response to comments..looking forward to reading watching MSNBC
    Imus fan

  19. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    I, too, thank you Tom, for writing about our curmudgeon and cranky old grouch! I’m also beyond the prized 18-49 demographics but; I still bought lots of products that were advertised on the ‘Imus in the Morning’ program. In fact, some of them I bought only because they were advertised there!
    I’m 62; female, divorced, a newly Independent voter, living in Corpus Christi, Texas. I’m not retired yet.
    I now know I will never buy P&G products again. I did not know that P&G still tested on live animals. Thanks for that information!

  20. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    51 Female – New Jersey

    Have been listening to Imus for over 7 years now and mornings are so sad without him. It’s hard to start the day!

    We will continue to boycott MSNBC, CBS and all that didn’t stand up with our Man.

    We need him back asap.

    Thank you.

  21. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    I think, as usual, Imus will be deciding when and if he returns. As you have so aptly reminded us, he has always played by his own rules. It’s difficult as a fan because we have limited control here. But maybe, if Imus sees our posts, and realizes how much he is needed and sorely missed, well maybe he will decide to give all of us more of his brilliant, grumpy self. Loyal fan since 1993; female, age 50.

  22. LareeLaree06-12-2007

    I am btw 35-49, If you go to my homepage, you can find myhomepage, I posted it in the comments to your last article. There are many people on myspace, that are Don Imus Fans, one is Save Imus, first in my friends section, she is stating she is 22, alot of people on myspace that like Don Imus are young. I appreciate what you said, about people not standing up for Imus, when they availed themselves to his format to sell their books ect…this is true and the people who watched and listened took notice there is even list…The ones that stood up, the ones who didn’t, the ones who figured out Imus was an evil bastard, the ones like Russert and Matthews have their own special category-witness protection program, there is one for people who didn’t like Imus but said, what happened to him was totally wrong. I get that the people who work at Media Matters and the Clintonistas, thought he was a has been…NO he is an American Radio Icon. And now we the voting public, Imus’s demographic knows just who they are and trust me we are social sharing people and I myself have told everyone the sad sad state of affairs going on in our REPUBLIC today…regarding what happened to Don Imus and the Imus Crew.

  23. LareeLaree06-12-2007

    You could go to Imus Truth or and do the same poll. The Imus Fan Group on Yahoo has over 600 members…these links are all on and myspace page.

  24. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    53 – Male – NJ

    We need the Iman;

  25. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    76 – F – NJ

  26. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    40-year-old female (listened and/or watched for 12 yrs

    Husband 48 – loves Imus too

    Dad & stepmom watched every morning

    not in demo! Ages 60 & 73

    Mother-in-law 78! watched every day

    Hubby’s best friend – 48

    We’re spread all over the map. Of course, Imus had lots of older listeners and nobody seems to care about them.

    We’re all boycotting Proctor & Gamble, Staples, NBC/MSNBC et al

  27. AnonymousAnonymous06-12-2007

    Thank you for your excellent post. I’m a 35 year old male. Been listening to Imus daily since 1995. I have a library of books and CD’s based on the I-Man’s recommendations. You would think that after two months I’d be less upset about what went down, but I am still pissed off. The show was a huge part of my life. I’m not nearly as informed about politics, sports, music, books, TV, etc. There is no replacing him.

  28. SupportSupport06-12-2007

    Anything you can do to help Imus fans get the word out would be really appreciated…

  29. AnonymousAnonymous06-13-2007

    No one had the guts to tackle some of the issues Imus did. I am a 39 F, with lots o kids to buy for and a large extended family.

    I am also amazed that this issue isn’t fading. As time goes by I only get more determined in my boycots. What a boring summer without Imus!

    I am a proud white trailer trash ho with a bitchy twist(without the trailer…lol). I had lots o headaches….but Head On, throw directly in the trash can, head on throw directly in the trash can, will never be bought by me again. And there are many alternative paper products out there. Kimberly Clark sure has some great products.

    As far as “News”….omg what a disaster. If it wasn’t for Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, I’d go completely nuts. Not that I alway agree, they just have a passionate way of delivering the news. Everyone else, on all tv stations just recycle the same thing. I am sooo sick of Paris, I could vomit.

    Just so you know, most I-fans who frequent these sites also represent many family members who are also boycotting. I have at least 10 friends and family whom I represent.

    This isn’t going away. The longer the I-man absence. The more determined the fans.


  30. AnonymousAnonymous06-13-2007

    I am a Male who is 57 going on 58. Have listened to Imus since the early 70’s. I would laugh while driving to work and I saw other people on the road in New Jersey doing the same thing. But the Imus then is not the Imus now. Meaning he has or had more power with the insightful interviews he had with very notable people. He spoke for the rich, the poor, the blacks and the whites. I miss the Iman and crew as you have gathered. And when he returns, and he will, I will be tuning in to whatever medium he is on. So keep up the good work and support of the “IMUS IN THE MORNING” Show. We the friends of Imus are very appreciative.

    Bruce Bradenton, Fl

  31. LareeLaree06-13-2007


    NASCAR also Imus Demographics Imus was a NASCAR FAN…I may blog about this later today if I get the opportunity.

  32. MichelleMichelle06-13-2007

    I am a 21 F. I am a rising senior in college, and believe it or not, a lot of kids my age enjoyed the I-Man. While it’s not a runaway hit with the college crowd (most of us like to sleep in), there is a sizable minority that does wake up in time to watch the show. If you go on Facebook or other social networking sites, you’ll see a lot of kids who are in “Imus in the Morning” fan groups.

    I started watching around May ’06, and I fell in love with it because I love politics, news, and comedy. While I enjoy the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, I think the Imus show was superior, simply because it had longer interviews, more discussion, and a great deal of humorous conversation. Plus, it’s so hard to categorize the Imus show. Sometimes it was a comedy show; sometimes it was news and politics; sometimes it was an activism/progressive show; sometimes it was a music program. It was really a marvelous thing; it was so many neat little things in one package.

    One thing I also loved about the show was that it was not a partisan hack program. Most news shows only offer the “left” opinion or the “right” opinion. Even though Imus and his cast mostly leaned Republican, they called BS when they saw it on *any* topic. I really appreciated that.

    Finally, one word about demographics. Whenever I watched Imus I always felt like I was thumbing my nose at popular culture, because as a young female the advertisers expect me to be obsessed with Gilmore Girls or Laguna Beach or whatever. Yet here I was, pulling a fast one on the advertisers and tuning into a crazy old man in a cowboy hat. If you read any of the news reports from that awful week last April, you’d get the impression that Imus fans were nothing but a bunch of old ignorant racist Klansmen. To paraphrase one of the previous commenters, I am young, female, and educated – and I am proud to be an I-Ho.

  33. AnonymousAnonymous06-14-2007

    I’m 49 year old woman, life long democrat, political junkie, lover of comedy and parent of a adult son with Autism. I first started listening to Imus about 12 years ago and then switched to MSNBC when his show started being broadcast on TV.
    I absolutely LOVED Imus in the morning and I miss the whole gang so much, but mostly Don Imus.
    I think he was one of the only people on TV today who had the GUTS to be REAL. I doubt he was any differnt off the air than on, and I appreciated that. I also loved him because he was frank and
    and had a total disdain for BS in all forms.
    I was sickend by the regulars who bailed on him. As I watched them all run away, all I could think,(to quote one of the I Man’s favorite phrases) “Gutless weasels!”
    If anyone at MSMBC really used their heads they would have him back in a heart beat. If not MSNBC then I hope someone has the brains to grab him and put him back on the air.

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