Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My apologies for my absence... but a few words...

I apologize for not being able to keep up with my blog the last couple of days. When it comes to me, I usually get sick at least once on a holiday per year. This year, it was Easter time. I was hit with a sore throat starting Thursday night, a 101+ fever starting Saturday (and ending mid-morning Sunday), and with a sinus infection starting on Saturday.

I've dealt with sinus infections since Junior year of high school, where I was hit severely with one. The infection carried with me throughout my play practices for "You Can't Take It With You" (I was Donald, who was originally casted as a black servant).

I will get back up and running since I'm able to function again! =P But speaking about my past play experience, that takes me to a topic I want to address to the readers of my Yankee blog and my personal blogs. It's on the subject of responsibility in writing, something that (apparently) I have a lot of experience in. Though I'm just an aspiring journalist, with my experience in blogging and diversity, I'm still perfecting my craft.

However, as we can see in the news today, many have perfected their craft... their craft of offending others.

**************************************

From MediaMatters.com:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.
ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.
IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --
McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.
IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.
McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.
IMUS: Yeah.
McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.
IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --
McCORD: Do The Right Thing.
McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
IMUS: I don't know if I'd have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?
ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.
IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.
RUFFINO: Only tougher.
McGUIRK: The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.

The cast of characters in which this April 4th conversation clip took place on the "Don Imus Show" was:

* Don Imus, the man taking almost 100% of the heat for his "nappy-headed hos" comment.
* Sid Rosenberg, the fired WFAN announcer who stood in that day for regular "Imus Show" sportscaster, Chris Carlin
* Bernard McGuirk, the executive producer for the "Don Imus Show" on MSNBC (and "Imus in the Morning" on 660 WFAN)

Throughout ESPN News and on ESPN.com today, lines and quotes scream from the offended Rutgers' women's basketball organization, as well as many black leaders with Rev. Al Sharpton leading the charge. Many of these leaders are calling for Imus to be fired, as well as Filip Bundy (one of my personal favorite journalists) writing in the Daily News that Imus "should be axed for one of the most despicable comments ever uttered on the air."

Yes, what Don Imus said was terrible beyond belief. Yes, this is a case of irresponsible broadcasting on television and on radio. Yes, we should not recommend Don Imus for a Nobel Peace Prize any time soon. But let's not go around, putting his head on a pike for this comment. Furthermore, let's not go around only putting his head on a pike when there were two other men who made comments as crass as his.

Let us list just a few of Don Imus's latest "radical" comments on the past few years:

* Stating that Contessa Brewer, who used to work with Imus but quit because of his treatment of her, has only one good asset: her "fat ass". He also proceeded to insult her moral worth, calling her a "skank", and her intelligence, calling her "dumber than dirt".
* Dismissing Rush Limbaugh's drug problem by calling him "a fat, pill-popping loser"
* Stating that CBS Radio is run by a "Jewish management" who are "money-grubbing bastards"
* (Quote from CNN.com)
When The New York Times hired black journalist Gwen Ifill in the 1990s, Imus said it was nice of the paper to "let the cleaning lady cover the White House." He also called Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden a "quota hire."
* He has repeatedly called Arabs "ragheads" and indirectly advocated killing the Palestinians by dropping a bomb on them

The list goes on and on. However, he gets paid to do this. This is his job: to be a shock jock, period. People turn in to hear him talk and rant. As it has been easily illustrated by a number of his insults, he actually doesn't single out a single group throughout his years on the show. Yes, he insulted the black community, but he also insulted politicians, women and even the Arab community. To see the Arab community sit down and take those undeserving shots from Imus while the black community gets up in arms against his one comment has got to be disheartening. At least, it is for me.

In 2004, you heard almost less than nothing about the insults against the Arab community on a whole... but in 2006, an attack against a basketball team gets the black community to battle together against Imus. Why is that? Of course, that goes into the aspect of "accepted racism" in America today, but that's for another day. However, it is something to think about.

It may seem simple to state this but this "problem" could have been nipped in the bud a long time ago. There are essentially two things that could have prevented this "tragedy":

1. Fire the executive producer/commentators on the show
2. Don't listen to the show.

Let's dissect the past work of the two other man involved in all of this.

Sid Rosenberg is a piece of work, plain and simple. To even think why he returned for a show is beyond me. According to FoxNews.com and CNN.com, his line of degrading comments range deeper than Imus's.
  • Calling Serena/Venus Williams "too masculine" and that the Williams sisters are more suited for National Geographic than Playboy
  • Referring the 2001 U.S. Women's Soccer Team as "juiced-up dykes"
  • Stating that only "faggots play tennis"
  • Mocked Kylie Minogue's breast cancer by being quoted as saying "She won't look so pretty when she's bald with one tit".
Lastly, he was the one who directly advocated the killing of the Palestinians by dropping a bomb on them as well as referring to those Arabs as "stinking animals."

Apparently, he treats people on the radio like he treated his job at the WFAN: with complete carelessness and disrespect. Personally, as an aspiring journalist who would love to have the job that Sid Rosenberg had, it seems careless for someone to destroy aspects of basic humanity on the radio, but hey, Rosenberg said it and we, as Americans, turned in to hear him. But then again, considering Rosenberg now has a job in a Miami sports radio station, radio stations truly are soulless, selling their worth for radio commentators for the green, the dough, and the bread.

However, if a producer of a shock jock show has both the same mindset as the radio owners that hire commentators like Rosenberg and Imus and the same attitude as Rosenberg and Imus, that equals a recipe of great success monetary for the radio station. Bernard McGuirk is that executive producer.

When it comes to spitting out hateful remarks, McGwirk is as quick as they come. His resume of work consists of:
  • Stating that Jill Carroll struck him as being an Iraqi terrorist, "the kind of woman who would wear one of those suicide vests"
  • Referring to Barack Obama as being a "jugg-eared neophyte (a novice)" as well as being "patronizing" and "Oprah's guy" because he's half-black
  • Playing the role of the antagonist to Don Imus, he inserted insults to Imus with insults against Anderson Cooper (whether "... Anderson Cooper was taking it in the pooper").
To add to this resume is his comment in the April 4th show, referring to black people as none other than "jigaboos", an ethnic slur.

It amazes me that the comments these three have made in the past haven't come to bite them in the butt until now. However, when it comes to radio and shock jocks in general, two names do come to mind: Don Imus and Howard Stern. When it comes to money, both are making it, with Howard Stern bringing his massive audience over to Sirius. With Howard Stern moving to Sirius on January of 2006, his inclusion resulted in a 2 million more subscribers to Sirius within his first year. Howard Stern's promotion of Sirius Satellite in the months before January of 2006 helped get 2 million more subscribers to the satellite company.

Money is what drives radio stations and companies to hire guys like Imus and Stern. In fact, the recent announcement of MSNBC canceling the live broadcast of the "Don Imus Show" wasn't done because it was the "right" thing to do. It wasn't done because MSNBC wanted to appease the growing dissect from the black community either.

From CNN.com:

Sponsors withdraw ads

Gordon's statements came as more big sponsors withdrew their ads from the airing of "Imus in the Morning" on MSNBC.

At least eight companies have pulled their ads from the show, including Staples, General Motors, Sprint Nextel, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble, PetMed Express, American Express and Bigelow Tea.

African-American activists are expected to send a letter to Imus' remaining advertisers demanding they "withdraw sponsorship."

Radio stations and TV stations alike get their money from advertisements. If the advertisers aren't going to pay up, the show ends up not profiting for the TV or radio stations that hold it. The reason why MSNBC canceled the TV broadcast is because MSNBC saw its opportunity to profit from the show fall apart in front of their eyes. If the women and African-American activists are able to push their weight around even more, it could only be a matter of time for WFAN to cancel the show all together.

Money rules media in this day and age. If we listen and watch, advertisers will pay to have their ads play on those programs. If advertisers pay, TV and radio stations will profit. If those stations profit, they will keep putting out material that will keep us coming to that program. The cycle continues.

In my opinion, the only way Don Imus will be able to produce a strong profit again would be to move to the non-censored satellite radio stations. In fact, if any satellite radio companies are listening, they can steal this idea from me.

It's not a secret that Imus and Stern don't like each other. Howard Stern has two radio stations on Sirius so far, with the option of making one more. In that third station, you can have Stern and Imus feud. As an aside to their regular programming, the insults and slurs each of them will sling at each other would be extremely profitable. It would be a radio listener's wet dream fulfilled! Yes, to many (including me), this would be a feud of soulless and epic proportions, but hey, if money's the game to these radio and TV companies, why not cash in?

The only way this madness will end is if we all, as a collective group, decide not to listen. It took more than 15 years for Don Imus to face a backlash of this proportion. For 15 years, Imus and the people on his show have insulted men and women; blacks and Arabs; politicians and reporters. Just now, he is paying for his "sins" against the listeners and the non-listeners he affects. Within politics as well as situations like this, the black population in America as well as women in general hold an incredible weight. With both groups against you, how can you stand?

Is there any way Imus can rebound from this? Only time will tell. Maybe listeners will still listen in. Maybe Imus finally bit off more than he can chew. Maybe this is America finally fighting back against the shock jock. This has been a long time coming. If Imus is still making WFAN money after this, Imus has survived this with more than he was expecting. As long as the advertisers don't leave completely during the two-week suspension, Imus will still have a job in radio.

This is where I decide to add one small personal piece to the mix to wrap this up. My cousin was actually on the Don Imus Show. But she wasn't on so Don Imus could berate her. She was on the show to talk about Don Imus's ranch. She stayed at the ranch for four weeks because the good people at Hackensack Hospital in New Jersey sent her over. She had a wonderful time, checking out the ranch, being with Imus and his wife, and riding on the horses there.

Let's not get it twisted. Don Imus is not the devil. Don Imus is not the anti-Christ. He is just getting paid to talk about whatever he wants in whatever way he wants. People listen and he talks, period. His formula has worked for over 15 years, and heck, for all the crass things he has said in the past, people still listen in and advertisers still pay. Imus uses the money that he gets for great things, keeping his ranch as well as donating money to the rehabilitation of our soldiers overseas in Iraq.

He may be a moral man with great intentions for the money that he gets, but when dealing with Imus, you have to separate the moral man with the shock jock personality. That shock jock personality has him in heat, with pressure from all sides of the issue.

Don Imus and his people insulted both the black population of the United States, but also women. He insulted both groups by going against a women's college basketball team. He didn't go against a politician or a well-known journalist, but an "innocent" Rutgers' women's basketball team. The comments were absolutely disgusting, but please, it's not just Don Imus here.

The real blame lies in four main parties:

1. Don Imus
2. Sid Rosenburg
3. Bernard McGuirk as well as the other producers and conductors of the "Don Imus Show"
4. America

Yes, some of the blame lies within us. The story is this: if we don't listen, the show will go away. Throughout this entry, I have referred to the ugly cycle of how TV and radio shows make money. We are a cog in that wheel. If we don't listen, advertisers won't pay. If advertisers won't pay, TV and radio stations lose money. And no one wants to fund a money-sucking show. Period.

All I can ask is this: make your TV and radio choices wisely. Why is American Idol so successful? Many people watch it. Why does loud-mouth and perfected-jerk Jim Rome have a radio show and a TV show on ESPN? People listen and watch him. Why does Ben Affleck still have a job in Hollywood? Many people watch his movies. If many people don't watch or listen to something, it will go away.

If you choose to want to listen to a shock jock that will berate your thoughts and opinions, that's up to you. But don't be shocked when that shock jock says something that will offend your community. Believe me, when it comes to shock jocks, it's only a matter of time before he or she will offend you deeply. That jock may offend you either as a man or a woman, as a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew, as a black man or woman, as a Latino or Latina, or as a person living in America.

If you don't listen, shock jocks won't have a job. Just like Smokey the Bear once said, only you can prevent forest fires. My friends, only you can prevent shock jocks.

**************************************

Thank you for your time! =)

I just accepted a spot at MVN yesterday, writing for the Bronx Block, because of the recommendation from one of my favorite blog writers, EJ, who writes for Pending Pinstripes.

The future of this blog is in doubt, but we will see in the next couple of days.

Thank you guys again for your time! =)

Happy reading!

B(rent)

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