Acerbic approach, freedom of speech


By —— Bio and Archives--October 24, 2007

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I confess; I typically ranked as more than an irregular listener of the Imus morning program. My sensitivity meter was calibrated in such a way that when I listened to him, the needle typically hovered between the “mildly annoying-yet funny” and the “gratuitously shocking but hilarious” markers.


Although I do not consider myself a misogynist, a racist, or a prude for that matter, I generally understood and gradually became resistant to his brand of humor.  I felt that Imus would often articulate in a rare vernacular what many of his listeners (and guests) would dare not say even in jest.

Imus played the role of dialogue moderator for the average folk who wanted to unscramble the hyperbolic nuances of the nation’s political lexicon. His lack of finesse and acerbic approach was partly intended to give the impression that he was voicing the unaired grievances of the typical American who did not have the luxury of hosting a syndicated radio talk show studded with the most sought after powerbrokers in politics.

Part of his alluring charm was that he was able overstep the boundaries of conventional etiquette, blissfully ignore the script arbitrarily approved by the custodians of political correctness, and still retain his freedom of speech.

Of course, he did on occasion say some pretty stupid things, but on the whole, I found myself enduring the sophistic requiems of the eclectic band of left wing pundits he invited regularly to his program, just so that I could listen to one of Bernard McGuirk’s sidesplitting tirades or Larry Kenney’s hilarious impersonations.

These humorous skits provided a vicarious enjoyment that comes from the free flow of irreverent jabs at our burgeoning Orwellian milieu. And it was within that milieu that Don Imus suffered his near fatal, yet self-inflicted wound.

But many people forget that prior to his mandatory sabbatical, Imus was the undisclosed darling of the media’s liberal elite; and he returned the curious favor by regularly lending his impressive pulpit to militant progressives posing as impartial voices of the main stream media.

Fair and balanced he wasn’t. 

The daily stack of ‘left of center’ virtuosos on his roster virtually dwarfed the list of random conservative jockeys who were invited mostly to be treated as objects of ridicule by the “I-man”, owing to what he often referred to as their “horrid” ideology. 

This roster boasted of openly progressive media reporters and pundits like Chris Matthews,  David Gregory (who once phoned in noticeably inebriated), Newsweek’s   Jon Meacham and   Howard Fineman, and Boston Globe’s Tom Oliphant and Mike Barnicle - many of whom became conspicuously inaccessible following the I-man’s atrocious verbal faux pas; which may explain why so many from that contingency - who apparently underestimated the I-man’s recalcitrant spirit—appear hesitant to more vigorously oppose his imminent return; particularly since an election in which the democrats are allegedly poised to reclaim the White House looms in the horizon.

The question is whether a conflicted, less congenial, and perhaps even vengeful Imus will continue this long standing tradition of catering to the liberal fringe, with the memory of being summarily disowned as pariah—by many of those to whom he afforded such a valuable forum—still fresh in his mind.

It’s doubtful that in his new, “rehabilitated” self, Imus will again venture to bite more than he can possibly chew; unless of course, he strictly channels his derision toward those who are suspected of being aligned with the much feared—yet mysteriously elusive—right wing conspiracy machine. It has always been much easier to maltreat this fellowship with impunity. One thing he can count on is that no one from that corner will browbeat any apologies from him.

But the most likely result of his pre-retirement bid for absolution from the demigods of political correctness—who prefer sacrifice to the offering of a broken and contrite heart—is that we may be shortchanged with a lamer, more sanitized version of the I-man, instead of the endearingly pejorative radio host we used to know and love.

The “new and improved”, more sensitive Imus may end up being but a shadow of the one who offered us a daily dose of the everyman’s undiluted political gabble peppered with his trademark edgy skits, which many of us—are almost loath to admit—so thoroughly enjoyed in anonymity.


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Miguel A. Guanipa -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Miguel Guanipa is a freelance journalist.

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