Imus's Sponsors and Guests Owe the Bigger Apology

05/25/2011 12:05 pm ET
  • Adam Hanft Political Columnist, CEO of Hanft Projects

Imus is a pig. What's new about that? When someone drives home drunk from dinner every night, we're not surprised when he finally gets wrapped around the big oak. So why are we surprised that Imus finally went off-the-road?

Imus' ugly stereotyping and pathetic attempts at humor have been no secret. He lavishly embodies the coarsening of dialogue in America, but has been smart enough to balance that by providing a microphone to the powerful.

This lets him sustain the illusion that he plays a useful role by offering a forum for extended conversations about important issues. And by creating an environment that lets us gain some intimate knowledge of cultural and political figures in an unguarded state.

But the ugly truth has always been there; his fans, guests and corporate supporters just chose to look the other way. And now they're pretending this was some horrible anomaly rather than simply the slight uptick that it represented.

And it's interesting that no one has made a peep about the first amendment in this entire media swirl.

That would take a level of courage that a coward like Imus -- or his media partners and guests -- don't come close to possessing. Even our most liberal free-speech advocates don't have the guts.

Imus' success was made possible by an ecosystem of co-enablers who are now peeling away, leaving him hanging out to dry. But why was he acceptable to them at 95 percent of reprehensibility as opposed to 100 percent?

It's not surprising that those co-enablers -- Big Politics, Big Media and Big Marketing -- are busy being righteously indignant, when they should be as much in the profuse apology business as Imus is himself.

Of course, they're not about to concede that they've been getting rich for years, and gaining free exposure for years, on the back of Imus's fundamental nappy-headedness. Why end the charade and the hypocrisy now, when they need it more than ever?