Monday, April 16, 2007

The Quislings Awaken

A new, hilarious sidelight to the never-ending Imus story is the frantic backpedaling by the scores of journalists and politicians who regularly used to appear on his show.

It's possible that these people have been so beaten with the P.C. stick that they really do believe that they've unwittingly participated in some horrific atrocity from which they are only now awakening. A more likely explanation is that they considered the "edgy humor" (I use both terms advisedly) of the program to be no big deal until the sudden tsunami last week made it necessary to pretend that they've hated Imus's show all along and were somehow forced onto it at gunpoint.

From what I understand, Imus was in the habit of calling people weasels. He'd certainly know one when he saw it, because they were on his show regularly. Listen to these little worms being quoted in a Newsweek cover story this week:
Imus had a talent for coaxing his guests into saying what they really thought, often in salty language they'd never use on more "respectable" shows. "I wanted to be where the action was on my beat," says NEWSWEEK's Howard Fineman, an Imus regular. "The show, however unsavory it could be, was one of those places. I thought, or perhaps only imagined, that being on the show gave me more clout on the beat." NEWSWEEK's Evan Thomas, another regular guest on the show, sometimes wondered if Imus went too far. "But I rationalized my appearances by pointing to other prominent journalists and politicians who did it, too," he says. "I was eager to sell books, and I liked being in the in crowd."
Fortunately the deprogramming has begun, freeing these heroic journalists from the cult they'd been kidnapped by. Teevee journalists are also joining in the self-flagellation:
"He occasionally accused me of being drunk or being queer," says NBC chief White House correspondent David Gregory, a frequent guest on the show. "Imus was living in two worlds. There was the risqué, sexually offensive, sometimes racially offensive, satire, and then there was this political salon about politics and books. Some of us tuned in to one part and tuned out the other ... Whether I was numb to the humor that offended people or in denial, I don't know."
Last year, I remember reading one prominent social thinker (I wish I could remember who it was now) who pointed out that almost all public scandals are actually caused by a suddenly-shifting standard of behavior rather than the behavior itself. That's certainly the case here; Imus has been doing the same thing for years, but suddenly it became arbitrarily unacceptable. Nonetheless, it's funny to see the cockroaches that used to slavishly appear on his program now scurrying under the P.C. floorboards, as if he were a great guy a year ago but suddenly evil now.

Incidentally, Jason Whitlock (an African-American columnist with the Kansas City Star) pinpoints Imus's biggest mistake, making the point that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are political terrorists--and you don't negotiate with terrorists. This video of Whitlock on MSNBC is the sanest thing I've seen on this whole issue.

(HT: Cindy at Dominion Family)

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