Saturday, April 14, 2007

Imus Gone But Big Media Remain

The controversy over Don Imus' racist remarks goes far beyond one bigoted commentator. But getting rid of Imus won't fix the media problem.


After Imus:
What You Can Do

While the recent remarks by Don Imus are deeply objectionable, does not have a formal position on whether he should have been fired or retained. Our mission is to deal with government policies that shape the media system.

About the Imus issue, media scholar and Free Press co-founder Robert McChesney recently wrote:
Imus still is a free person. He can start a blog or, in all likelihood, find another media company willing to employ him. He has as many free speech rights as you or me. If someone suggests the government should remove his free speech rights, I will be the first to defend him.

But that does not mean Imus has a First Amendment right to a national radio or TV program, any more than you and I have a right to demand we get a national program on a TV network or radio network. When it comes to freedom of the press, the right and responsibility for what is produced, published and broadcast rests with the institution. MSNBC and CBS hold that First Amendment privilege, for the most part. The government cannot and should not force MSNBC or CBS to hire or fire a specific person. And if you feel strongly that MSNBC and CBS should retain Imus, or hire someone else to provide his style of humor, you should tell them.
It's clear to McChesney and others that this is not a fight over the First Amendment. We are rather concerned with the government policies that establish the media system. We believe that this incident points to a systemic problem in our media: Most of our TV and radio stations are owned by giant corporate conglomerates. They don't represent the views of most Americans -- and they make huge profits off the public airwaves.

What Imus said is just the tip of the iceberg. Scores of other TV and radio hosts regularly make racist and sexist comments. The best way to stop this race to the bottom is to change who's sitting at the top -- and making the decisions about who's behind the mic.

Right now, less than 10% of radio and television stations are owned by people of color or women. And, according to one industry study, only 2.5% of radio stations have a person of color in the role of general manager, and only 4.4% have a racial or ethnic minority in the role of news director. The percentage of women in these jobs isn't much higher. No wonder shock jocks like Imus have been able to keep their jobs for so long.

But instead of addressing this national disgrace, the Federal Communications Commission is actually trying to let the largest companies buy up even more stations!

According to McChesney:
Women of color, like those Rutgers basketball players, own almost nothing. The FCC has refused to follow its congressional mandate to advance minority media ownership; indeed, we have been going in the wrong direction for a good decade. This is not the only reason we end up with someone like Imus broadcast coast to coast, but it is a factor. It is one we can and must change.
One of the best ways to get new voices on television and radio is by addressing the lack of diversity in media ownership. Promoting diverse media ownership and protecting freedom of speech are not mutually exclusive or contradictory. In fact, we can and must aggressively fight for both simultaneously.

If you agree, work with the Coalition to demand media ownership that better reflects the diversity that makes our nation great.

>> Tell the FCC: We Need More Diversity in the Media

>> Tell Your Friends to Join in This Action


Anonymous said...

mullah cimoc say amerika right now this moment being destroy.

No. 1, him barak obama him working for the hilary clinton woman. divert the money from the real competitor with fake campaign. him test water on issues for clinton woman, see what safe for her.

No. 2, real mr. imus story of get the fired him. this been planning long time. imus him just convenient target, could have been anyone, if white and the male. this real purpose to terrorize media persons for lose job if tangle with this woman hilary clinton and the most important for signal true end of white male controlling usa. now this white man him target of new devil/satanic coalition made of lesbian, africa man, mexico man, and the white woman hate the man. This call the impose discipline.

this all part god plan yes. thising for purify white society to cleanse of the bad. so bad time for tattoo having people when cleansing time come. them get it very very first. like big neon sign on head say: i scum, please cleanse me.

Anonymous said...

Well put.

Anonymous said...

What makes any comment seemingly offensive is the fact that it is a comparison. In other words, calling an incompetent CEO incompetent by comparing him to his job description is neither hate speech nor specifically offensive, but saying what comes off as "You're an idiot, and I'm not" or "You're a nigger, and I'm not" is where the offense really lies. Progressively politically correct media has traditionally ignored blatant offense to others without apology. African Americans (a term that does not fairly identify all black-skinned Americans) have coined the phrase "people of color", and it is now PC to use this phrase--but if this appellation is distinct to African Americans, then the converse must also be true; that is, no one except African Americans are "people of color". When I first heard this phrase as a young adult, it was clear to me that it was intended to represent more than just skin color, but a colorful history and tradition. What it also says is that only black people are colorful, and that is both racist and offensive to non-black individuals. Don't expect any immediate solutions to the Don Imus situation when racism is so embedded in our accepted politically correct culture that the only ones screaming racism are the biggest racists of all.

Unknown said...

Mr. Karr,

I concur with your action plan, however I am of the belief that the FCC was initially mandated a content oversight role that they have refused to honor in the past 10 years (with the exception of the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction!) In my opinion, the FCC has been systematically stripped of, or simply ignored it's duty to provide oversight of public decency. It goes a lot further than the racial and gender-based insensitivity of the Imus-kind. By failing to properly monitor the content broadcast over the public airwaves for anything other than George Carlin's infamous 4 Prohibited Words, today's public media is being used to undermine our nation's sense of decency and morality. I grew up in the benign "Leave It To Beaver" and "Gilligan's Island" era. What passes for "decency" during prime time today would not have even qualified for "bathroom talk" a generation ago. The sexual and racial innuendo of today is so lightly veiled that the actors might as well come out and say "it" and do "it". Where's the oversight of TV shows that are marketed to our kids. These shows regularly and blatantly hint at how to properly have sex? I'm not talking about the shows like "Desperate Housewives" where every theme has sexual undertones. What is needed at the FCC is a restoration of it's public duty to keep our airwaves "clean enough for kids to see" and the means to consistently adhere to that standard.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure "Scooter"Libby wants to know where in the world is Sandy Berger(Burglar and why isn't he on trial?