Brent Bozell's culture column this week took one last bite out of the Imus apple, taking exception to CBS chief Les Moonves claiming he was so glad to listen to the public and dismiss Don Imus from his CBS Radio gig, because he is all about being sensitive to the public's wishes. Baloney, says Brent:
In his press statement on the Imus firing, the strangest part was Moonves touting how he enjoyed listening to the public. "Many of you have come forward during this past week to share your thoughts and feelings. I thank you for that. At the end of the day, the integrity of our Company and the respect that you feel for CBS becomes the most important consideration."
Integrity and respect for CBS? Thanking the public for sharing its thoughts? Moonves & Co. at CBS have stubbornly fought against the public on other matters of broadcast decency. They’ve consistently looked protests in the eye and declared their contempt for the opinions of the majority of Americans.
It's very easy to remember the wave of public outrage over the Janet Jackson breast exposure during the half-time of the 2004 Super Bowl. Half a million complaints piled into the FCC's offices in Washington. The FCC ultimately levied a $550,000 fine.
But Moonves didn't heed the majority. He threw rocks at the FCC in July of 2004, refusing to accept any fine for the Jackson stripper stunt: "We think the idea of a fine for that is patently ridiculous, and we're not going to stand for it. We're going to take that to the courts if it happens."
That they certainly did. Not only that, they've gone to court with other networks to fight for their “right” to drop the F-bomb on their airwaves at any time of day, no matter how many millions of children are affected, or their parents offended. So forgive the public if it thinks it's a little hypocritical that Moonves & Co. would go out and proclaim their sensitivity to the harm of language on the Imus show, when virtually the entire Imus audience was adults.
But there was Moonves, publicly declaring his intolerance of “ho” talk: "There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in our society." He said that consideration has "weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision."
This is sheer nonsense. I attended the annual Viacom shareholders meeting in New York. Presiding over the meeting were Sumner Redstone and Mel Karmazin, then the two biggest guns in that empire, the bosses of Moonves. Both the late C. DeLores Tucker and I spoke, roundly denouncing the indecent programming on their various networks. Each of us received strong applause from the shareholders. Redstone and Karmazin ignored us.
Later, a beautiful young black lady rose to speak. She was a college student representing Operation PUSH. Without prepared remarks, even notes, she delivered an extraordinarily moving ten-minute address, pleading for this corporation to end its offensive treatment of black women on its MTV and BET networks. She specifically referenced the “ho” word used so commonly on these shows. Her remarks generated a standing ovation. Redstone and Karmazin all but yawned in response.