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TELEVISION
A Criticism of MSNBC
You should have left Don Imus on the radio.

by Michael H. Thomson
April 6, 2005

NBC is an institution in American life that many of us have grown up with. I can remember listening each evening to the seriousness and sometimes chuckles of those two giants, David Brinkley and Chet Huntley as they read the news. If a bulletin broke on NBC of long ago, you knew it was serious – you stayed tuned.
 
Over the years with competition from cable and the Internet, NBC has changed and adapted. Former anchor Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, Tim Russert, and others of the NBC news line-up continue to bring high quality news coverage to the American masses. I once considered Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert two newsmen of impeccable character.
 
However, I'm starting to wonder however a little about Russert and other distinguished NBC journalists – particularly with their association with Don Imus – a vulgar radio shock jock – whose radio program on WFAN Radio is televised on MSNBC during the hours 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.
 
When I first caught my first "Imus in the morning show" a few years ago, I thought it sort of strange and bizarre, but overall – entertaining. Since moving out of their newsroom at WFAN in New York to the fancy MSNBC set in Secaucus, New Jersey the show is moving downhill and rapidly.
 
Just so you don't think I'm an innocent, I've always been aware of the occasional cursing, and ribald – even toilet humor of the Imus show. In the confining environment of the New York studio, all the players with the tight mothering enforcement of Charles McCord – Imus's sidekick, curbed their baser instincts.
 
In the current setup, the viewer sees the massive MSNBC set, which frankly kind of dwarfs Imus. When Imus and all of his crew at WFAN were stuck in the same studio they had much better rapport than they have now. Currently the viewer sees Imus in this large studio set with his sidekick Charles McCord facing him with the remainder of his crew still at the WFAN studio in New York where the viewer gets to see them via a giant TV screen.
 
The sense of rapport is gone and I think it is affecting all of them. A new element makes the dynamic even worse. They've added a woman who they abuse mercilessly. Contessa Brewer made a dramatic and fatal career decision when either she or MSNBC decided to make her a newsperson on Imus. Not only is this well credentialed journalist abused and berated by Imus – supposedly all in fun, but she is also the victim of deriding sexual innuendo by Bernard McGuirk  on the giant screen from WFAN in New York.
 
I deliberately broke a longtime friendship with a man who would not cease using coarse language in the presence of my wife. I have no regrets. I am a southerner who was raised to respect all women and honor them by being respectful to them in the manner of our speech.
 
In the most recent Imus program whose guests included the widow of David Bloom – an NBC correspondent who died of an embolism during the invasion of Iraq, the show got completely out of hand with little respect being shown the widow Bloom whose husband was one of NBC's best journalists. She eventually was able to say her piece only after patiently waiting for Imus to finish a tirade, which belittled women.
 
The Imus show has slipped and degraded so much since moving to Secaucus that I feel like I should give the highly respected journalists and commentators who visit there a comment that they won't enjoy hearing. Russert, Brokaw, David Kennedy, Pat Buchanan, Chris Matthews, Andrea Mitchell and the rest of you who regularly visit this show should know at least from one writer – that your sterling reputations are being damaged by association with this show which is definitely more shocking than anything Janet Jackson revealed at the Super Bowl. 
 
Imus's show is riddled with enough crude sexual innuendo that a nine year old would be asking questions of their parents within five minutes of viewing the show - I guarantee! Imus promotes his Imus Ranch for terminally ill children almost every day, but does nothing - even when he broadcasts from the ranch to curb his level of crudity and vulgarity. It could be possibly that he doesn't know any better - but I don't think so. We have a man here who is so caught up with his fame, his imagined power, and his money - which he brags about to the point of absurdity - that he believes he can roughshod over his viewers and that they will still love him. I think Imus that you are puffeth up too much!
 
I fully expect with the language and vulgarity currently being employed at Imus that an FCC visit may be imminent.  Although I'm generally opposed to censorship – in this case I think a fine might be justified. MSNBC, you might want to think about moving these folks back to
New York and reconsider your early morning news programming.
 
Flash! Read Mike Thomson's latest article about the Don Imus – Al Sharpton Controversy: The Pot Calling the Kettle White, The hypocrisy of Al Sharpton
 


About the Author:
Mike Thomson actually likes Don Imus, but his rantings about how much money and how much power he has come off more obscene than his language.


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