Yesterday, iconic New York City radio host Don Imus passed away at the age 79. He spent decades defining the genre, going from a VH1 disc jokey to the pinnacle of the long form, shock jock format.
He was also perceived as right of center in his political views, so that means he’s got to be trashed in death and the mainstream media are more than up for the job. Imus was once embroiled in a racial scandal after making an bad joke about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. This is now forming the lion’s share of the coverage of his passing.
Radio shock jock Don Imus, who once described women on the Rutgers University basketball team as "nappy-headed," has died. He was 79.https://t.co/NdmCscChOm
— NPR (@NPR) December 28, 2019
The Huffington Post decided to jump in with both feet.
BREAKING: Veteran radio broadcaster and known racist Don Imus has died at the age of 79. https://t.co/XW9VGyqs9N
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) December 27, 2019
The problem with this kind of coverage is that ignores a man’s illustrious, pioneering career to focus on one comment made in jest that he regretted and apologized for. It says to society that you will always be defined by your worst moment, no matter how much good you otherwise do.
For example, Imus spent over 15 years of his life supporting “Imus Ranch,” which was a non-profit that catered to seriously ill children, helping give them hope in their darkest times.
Much of the rest of his career could be considered tame in comparison to the likes of Howard Stern. Yet, one mistake, which he spent the rest of his life insisting he was sorry for, is now being bandied about as the only contribution he made to his field and society.
Our media are just gross. Their out-sized self-righteousness and gatekeeping has done nothing but cause further division and hurt the ability of people to come together to do good things. Further, the hypocrisy of it all is a bit much. These are the same outlets that sugar-coated the death of ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi, calling him an “austere religious scholar” and straining to avoid saying the words “Islamism” and “terrorism.”
But make an inappropriate joke and profusely apologize for it and the media will trash you even in death, ignoring everything else that actually matters. It’s just stupid.