THE BLOG
11/26/2006 04:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Michael Richards, Stop Apologizing -- CNN May Be Calling

Michael Richards made remarks that were bigoted, shocking, repellent, and deeply offensive. So my question is, when does his new cable TV show start? After all, that's the usual career arc for vile-mouthed bigots in this country. But uh-oh: Richards went on Jesse Jackson's show today to say again that he regrets saying such horrible things.

You'll never get on CNN that way, pal.

The Artist Formerly Known as Cosmo had a promising new career path going - until he started apologizing. They love to promote bigots on cable TV, but only the unrepentant kind.

If CNN felt they had already filled their bigot niche with Glenn Beck, Richards could've always gone to MSNBC. They've had a vacancy in that department ever since Michael "Savage" (formerly Weiner) left, and the Richards we saw on display at the Laugh Factory could've fit the bill nicely.

Then he had to go and spoil it all by going on an apology binge. How retro of him. That's not the way to get ahead in the 21st Century media. Beck and Weiner (er, sorry, "Savage") are up there with Richards on the Offense-O-Meter, and they're media millionaires.

Take Beck. Here's a guy who brags publicly that he cleaned up from drugs and alcohol through Alcoholics Anonymous, and uses that biographical tidbit to promote himself.

(Hey, Glenn! You're supposed to remain anonymous in those programs -- not use them as career-advancers. It's called the Eleventh Tradition. It looks like you don't understand what it means to be an AA-er any more than you understand what it means to be an American. A lot of drunks and addicts would rather stay strung out, if the alternative was becoming a slimeball like you. And they'd be right -- but fortunately mostsober people are upstanding citizens.)

How bigoted is Glenn Beck? He's up there in Richards-land. Here's a quick walk through Beck's history. He called the victims of Hurricane Katrina "scumbags" and said he "hated the 9/11 families." He called Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan a "prostitute" and offered to buy a 7-year-old black girl a one-way ticket to Africa - and that was beforeCNN hired him. Nevertheless, they issued a press release with fawning quotes from network exec Ken Jauntz, who called him "incredibly engaging."

Beck made fun of blind people. He mocked the pronunciation of Muslim names. He laughed at the way he thinks black people talk and said that blacks and whites don't like to hang out together.

Beck compared Al Gore to Hitler and called Saudi Arabians "dirtbags." He said he was "thinking about killing Michael Moore." He called Nick Berg's grieving father a "scumbag" and asked: "Can't you let your son's body become the same temperature as his head before you turn this into a political campaign against the President?"

That's what passes for "talent" at CNN these days. Think twice, Michael: Hate-pimps like Ken Jauntz are always looking for gifted guys like you! Of course, you've got a way to go before you can match Beck's record - but you're off to a running start.

Then there's Weiner, a serious psychiatric case whose mental instability just happens to perfectly fill the media's need for hate-speech professionals. Why do I think he's mentally ill? Judge for yourself. He's a former San Francisco beat-crowd hanger-on who reportedly wrote homoerotic mash notes to Allen Ginsberg and sent out pictures of himself and Ginsberg swimming nude.

He wrote health-food and wholistic healing books under his real name, then renamed himself "Savage" and reinvented himself as a screaming right-wing fanatic. Sounds schizo to me - although he certainly synchronized with the zeitgeist on that last move, and pretty soon MSNBC came calling.

"Savage" called his former hero Ginsberg "latrine trash" and compared homosexuals to "drug addicts." He mocked starving Ethiopians in a racist manner, saying they have "flies around their eyes," while also saying the following: illegal immigrants are "vermin," Asians are dog-eaters, Arabs are "non-human," and Islam is a "bloodthirsty religion." (Details here.)

"Savage" said the Senate has become "more vicious and histrionic" because we now have women Senators. He called the alleged rape victim at Duke University a "dirty, verminous, black stripper."

"Savage," once considered promising MSNBC on-air talent, lionized the US as representing "the best of the white Anglo-Saxon world" (a world that notably would exclude the Jewish Weiner -- paging Dr. Freud ...) He said: "when you hear 'human rights,' think gays ... think someone who wants to rape your son."

"Savage" accomplished the nearly-impossible in 21st-Century media and actually got fired for his bigotry, after saying this to a gay caller: "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig." Cable network execs love the ratings these bigots bring - but they also like to wear those AIDS ribbons and go to black-tie fundraising events. You can brutalize the weak and powerless, but don't step on their hypocritical self-righteousness. A professional bigot needs to know where the land mines are buried.

In television, your right to hate speech ends where the sanctimony of executives begins.

Michael Richards, I'm afraid it's already too late for you. Your glum appearance on the Letterman show and your apologies to black leaders have disqualified you from a new career as a professional bigot. If there's one thing these guys never do, it's apologize.

Still, you never know. You may decide to say "I was only kidding - I'm not sorry at all." Then you can wait for the phone to ring, knowing that the next call may well be from Ken Jauntz - or one of his competitors. You could still be the next king of cable television broadcasting.

After all, what's "incredibly offensive" to most Americans is "incredibly engaging" to today's television executives.

A Night Light