Damn it, Imus. You really can make it hard on your loyal listeners.
I don't always agree with you, but I do agree with the straight-forward, on-air apology you issued on Friday. Your remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team were "completely inappropriate...thoughtless and stupid."
Despite our occasional differences, I like your show. I like it a lot. So, I'm going to treat you the way you treat people you like when they do incredibly stupid things - like Joe Lieberman and his support for this idiotic war.
I'm going to stand by you. So how to move forward.
If I were a cynic, I'd suggest you dodge responsibility and announce you are entering rehab... but you can't really do that, now, can you? Besides it isn't your style to run, hide or trump-up some phony story. Your style is to hit things head on.
That's what you did on Friday. It's a new week, and too much is at stake in the world right now for anyone with the forum you have to get cautious, even temporarily. Be the cowboy you are, and get back on the horse that threw you.
And the best way to do that is to accept Brian Williams' offer and go with him to Baghdad.
Hell, broadcast the show from there for two or three days. Or let Charles and the crew stay here and just call in. Williams is right. Your voice would enhance the conversation about this war - a war you and I and most Americans agree is a literal living nightmare.
You've been right about it all along. And your remarks last week showed you have a broad audience and that people pay attention to what you say.
You weren't at your best when you got caught in a moment and insulted some accomplished young women one-third your age. But you've stood tall and squared off with men your own size, age and arguably more powerful when you've deliberately, fearlessly and consistently labeled Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney "war criminals" and Halliburton executives are "war profiteers."
You've shown great instinct for smelling the propaganda offered by reporters who depend on the administration for access and information, and you've instead opened your show to stronger independent reports from Richard Engle, Tom Aspell and others.
You were at your finest back in January, when you learned the Center for the Intrepid needed $10 million to complete a facility for young men and women returning from Iraq with disabilities. You wrote a check for $250,000 and worked like a rat terrier to raise the other $9.25 million, which our government disgracefully said was not available in a $500 billion defense department budget.
You seized on the peerless reporting of Dana Priest and Anne Hull whose independent work uncovered deplorable conditions at Walter Reed. I couldn't agree more when more than once you've said they deserve the Medal of Honor.
Remember how differently you saw this thing after you went with John McCain to Walter Reed? Even before you went, you knew what you thought about the war, but seeing its results firsthand gave you a moral, internal compass you didn't have before that trip. It's framed your discussion about it - and in the case of the Intrepid Fund, your actions - ever sense.
We all saw the look on Deirdre's face last week when, for one intense second, she realized you might actually be considering this. It was the look of a woman - a strong, fiercely protective mother - blindsided by the reality that if, God forbid, something horrible happened, she could be left to raise a son without his father or care for a husband the way Lee Woodruff almost was. I bet you got an earful when you got home!
Unfortunately, that look has come privately to hundreds of thousands of other wives and mothers whose husbands and sons - and daughters - have been sent to Iraq to fight, not just report.
Jack Jacobs is right. The troops would love it. The administration, which has refused to let you tour Walter Reed again, would hate it. But they can't stop you.
This war is going to last through the whole upcoming presidential election cycle, and you're going to have the candidates on your show every week telling you what they saw when they went to Iraq - telling you what they want you to think.
Don't give them have the upper hand. Firsthand knowledge changes everything, the way it did when you went to Walter Reed. Force them to talk about what you saw in Iraq the way you have been able to force them to talk about what you have seen in hospitals here at home.
Something tells me there is going to be a meeting about this on Monday or Tuesday. If NBC is still willing, take Brian Williams up on his offer.