Are we there yet? :: Imus, O’Reilly and Rivera provide new competition for The World Wrestling Federation :: Are they for real?


Whew. Don Imus has been “grounded” for two weeks. Maybe things can quiet down now. Have O’Reilly and Rivera been sighted crawling back into their holes yet? Bring back Friday night boxing. Please.

The nutcakes have been hyperactive over the last week. Like naughty children at a nursery school, they seem to have all gone off in harmony, popping and tooting like spoiled brats, all during the same week.

Imus was the lead off, with his disgusting racial remarks. Is the “Big A” finally catching up with the “I-Man?” It sure looks that way. By the end of the episode Imus had managed to make Al Sharpton look respectable. Now that takes doing.

Imus has been sent to the showers for two weeks, but he will be back. When your boss rakes in a cool $20 million off your show it takes more than a racial insult to permanently ground you. Imus’s behavior was inexplicable, and unforgivable. Except that he has been explaining and the suits at CBS and MSNBC will be in a forgiving mood. Money makes things happen.

Talk radio is supposed to be provocative. Absolutely. And Imus is more than a talk radio host. He is a marketing phenomenon. People go on his show to make money. What’s that expression? Money talks…

I am going to go out on a limb and defend Imus just a teeny little bit. I don’t think he is a racist. He said something disgraceful. But all you have to do is walk down the streets of Chicago and New York, or ride the subways, and the language will be much worse, the insults and use of the N-word much more prevalent. And unlike Imus, where you can switch stations, the loudmouths who populate our downtown areas often can’t be turned off because they are turned on.

So let’s keep Imus’ abuses in perspective.

Imus’ punishment is probably appropriate. He has earned a lesson, a hard one. I think he will be more careful in the future, or it really will be curtains for him.

I have been a radio talk show host. I love the medium. And yes, I was controversial. Very. But, generally, the more controversial the topic the more polite I was, the more solicitous of dissenting voices. Manners make for a better show. I was not a shock jock. When I shocked.

And, well, Imus shocked. But he got a shocker in return. He has been taken to the woodshed, and his butt will be red for two weeks. And then he will be back. Miraculously, red will morph into green. Long green.

I was especially annoyed by the cloying comments of some advertisers. They claim to want to “protect their customers” from Imus. Please. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have done worse, and they are still with us. Oh, well. How do we get protection from Jesse and Al?

Now for O’Reilly and Rivera their “debate” last week. I watched the tapes of the “showdown” between the two blabbermouths over a tragic car accident. The “debate” looked phony to me. Or rather, it looked as real as Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. What does that tell you?

O’Reilly is a brawler. He likes to pick fights. But as between O’Reilly’s battles with Rivera and Rosie O’Donnell, O’Reilly’s “Tokyo Rosie,” I don’t know which one of them is worse Yes, O’Reilly is an angry man; but radio and TV have become angrier in general. They are all over the top.

Immigrant-bashing is a favorite pastime of people who do not rely on immigrants for low-wage labor. O’Reilly’s lawn must not need cutting, the shrubs not need trimming. Maybe he does the work himself. Most of us want low-cost labor, as long as no one tells us about it. So secretly, we are all closeted hypocrites when it comes to immigration and exploitation.

Immigrants are the source of all evil, until you want to save money and look for low-cost workers. It reminds me of Rudyard Kipling and the way people ignored and abused soldiers in his time: “It’s Tommy this and Tommy that, and chuck ‘im out the brute. But it’s the ‘savior of his country’ when the guns begin to shoot.”

While we all want cheap labor few of us want to check ID’s. But when something goes wrong, O’Reilly is there to point the finger of guilt–”at immigrants. And that Sultan of Sleaze, Rivera, wants to appear as the moderate one. Talk about role reversal.

Finally, I am always amused that anti-immigrant sentiment is lowest in places such as Florida, Texas and California — where the exploitation of immigrants is highest.

And so, in their own way. O’Reilly and Rivera were as obnoxious as Imus. They were trying to gin up interest in their programs with exaggerated behavior that was as authentic as a rhinestone cowboy. Not very.

Imus. O’Reilly. Rivera. Rosie. These people need each other. Maybe they could combine in one continuous channel of Trash Television.

I’m switching channels.