I've spent more than my share of listening to talk radio and have had the opportunity to listen to Imus' show in particular on a fairly regular basis although it's been years.
For the most part I can't stand the guy.
His regular shtick is exactly what finally got him into trouble. His asshole of a producer Bernie would utter some utterly offensive comment and Imus would either run with it or laugh and say "no, no, no." It's utterly transparent in it's effort to avoid accountability and I'm glad he finally got stung by it.
The other thing I find contemptible about Imus is his own politics. They aren't discernibly left or right but they are thoroughly Washington establishment. If you wanted to hear the sort of smarmy, superficial bullshit that was making the rounds on the D.C. cocktail circuit all you had to was tune in to Imus.
The apex of this is his absolute hatred of Bill and Hillary Clinton who he regularly refered to using his favorite word- "hideous." His speech at the Radio/TV Correspondents Dinner in 1996 was back in the news last year as it was compared to Steven Colbert's skewering of Bush in the same venue. As far as I can tell the two speeches share only one similarity- they're both speeches given at Radio/ TV Correspondents Dinner. After that they pretty much head off in opposite directions. Imus' speech is a rambling diatribe listing every gross accusation that had been leveled at the Clintons thus far. Just a sampling-
You know I think it would be fair to say, back when the Clintons first took office, if we had placed them all in a lineup -- well, not a lineup -- if we were to have speculated about which member of the First Family would be the first to be indicted... I don't mean indicted -- I meant to receive a subpoena -- everybody would have picked Roger. I mean, been there done that. Well, in the past 3 years, Socks the cat has been in more jams than Roger. Roger has been a saint. The cat has peed on national treasures. Roger hasn't. Socks has thrown up hairballs. Roger hasn't. Socks got his girlfriend pregnant and hasn't... oh no, that was Roger. And as you know, nearly every incident in the lives of the first family has been made worse by each and every person in this room of radio and television correspondents -- even innocuous incidents. For example, when Cal Ripkin broke Lou Gherig's consecutive game record, the President was at Camden Yards doin' play by play in the radio with John Miller. Bobby Bonilla hit a double, we all heard the President in his obvious excitement holler "Go Baby!" I remember commenting at the time, I bet that's not the first time he's said that.
Remember the Astroturf in the pickup? And my point is, there is an innocent event, made sinister by some creep in the media.
In some cases, the Clintons have not exactly helped themselves. Imagine if back in 1978 Mrs. Clinton had NOT said to Mr. Clinton, "Honey, Jim and Susan are here and they've got some river front land for these great vacation homes, maybe we can make some serious money. And he said "God I love this Reaganomics!" Or later, she'd said, "Bill, I talked to Web and he said 'put down 600 hours' and he'd said, "well, that's a lot," and she'd said, "yes, I think 60 makes more sense." And recently somebody said, "I don't know, I left them on the table in the book room."
Although Imus gets the closing of his speech right. He aims his "wit" squarely at the elite media in which he apparently doesn't consider himself a member-
One of the things that it seems to me that the media ought to think about in the coming months, particularly in this election year, consumed by the chaos of the campaign, is the sensibilities of the people you are covering. The way you cover them, and your treatment of them as individuals. For if nothing else, they are all good and decent people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to devote the bulk of their adult lives to public service. People who possess a passion for ideas and ideals to which they have committed extraordinary energy. It is almost always irrelevant and short-sighted to seize only on the unfortunate human imperfections of people who frankly have demonstrated an often puzzling willingness to endure great sacrifice, both personally and professionally, for what they see as a noble summons to serve the greater good. More often than not, however, that is exactly the case. You folks focus on each misstep, every misspoken word, each testy outburst. Do they not deserve some degree of our respect? To be treated with the dignity that at least acknowledges the mission of altruism they believe they're conducting. Shouldn't we be willing to give them some benefit of the doubt?
I don't think so.