Thursday, May 03, 2007

Imus Sues. Good for Him!

As offended as I was by Don Imus' "nappy headed ho" comment, I never thought he should be fired. Imus is suing CBS for the $40 million remaining on his contract when he was terminated.

So I'm actually pleased that Imus is asserting his right to say what he wants to say. After all, everybody else had their say. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Vivian Stringer, Snoop Dogg, Jason Whitlock, Russell Simmons, Stuart Scott, Oprah, etc., etc.... They all had their say. And fair is fair. If 50 Cent can say "...you got feminine ways, you look like you got four lips and bleed for seven days" in his latest single already in heavy rotation on the public airwaves, Imus deserves a fair forum to determine how relatively vulgar his speech was. I respect CBS' right to fire Imus as a right of FCC compliance, corporate prudence or even social responsibility, but Imus has the right to say what he wants as a matter of free speech.

Imus' lawyer, Martin Garbus, claims that Imus' contract contains a clause where CBS acknowledged that Imus' services were "unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial." The clause said Imus's programming was "desired by company and ... consistent with company rules and policy."

This is certainly some selective quoting by the lawyer. If the language in Imus' contract was so clear, he wouldn't have needed to hire one of the most preeminent First Amendment lawyers in the country. A plain 'ol contract lawyer would've been fine.

But in Imus' case, his contractual right to be "controversial" is surely balanced with a contractual obligation to perform in compliance with FCC regulations, given that Imus performed on public airwaves. And it is clearly up for interpretation what is considered appropriate content. The FCC, on its Web site, defines profanity, for example, as "including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance." That is a very murky definition. It is definitely impossible to predict the likely winner in the prospective battle of interpretation between Imus and CBS.

And, if Imus prevails, he better send a thank you note to Snoop Dogg and the like, or more appropriately Clear Channel and the like. There are a lot of deep pockets who have a vested interest in keeping the public airwaves amenable for the "hos." And if Imus prevails in his dispute with CBS as a matter of free speech, he better thank all the hos, tricks and bitches who made it possible. And I'm talking media conglomerates, not rappers.

9 comments:

Da Arsonist said...

He can't seriously win this. Can he?????

Brother T said...

If he were to find instances of other folks calling people "nappy headed ho's" over the airwaves...and introduce that those instances were not reprimanded by the FCC or employer....that would help his cause, no?

I'm pretty sure he isn't the first to do it...I seen it on TV and heard it on the radio...

The HCIC said...

Yes, he can win.

It all depends on the contract, not to mention CBS went a little knee jerk after all the pressure from Sharpton. They probably were reeling from the Janet Jackson thing too.

The lawyer revealed the part of the contract that he wanted to, but who knows what the rest of it said. The section the lawyer quoted is extremely supportive of Imus. Even if CBS tried to assert that Imus violated FCC requirements, I doubt they would win. As we all know, there's fair worse on the broadcast tv and radio.

However, there may be other clauses in the contract. For example, CBS may have been required to warn Imus before a termination.

So it all depends on the contract. If you get me a copy, I could predict. :)

Brother T said...

I noticed that Imus' lawyers also have now brought up that if CBS was so mortified by what he said, they could have bleeped it...because, as with all radio, Imus is broadcast on delay...so the company sensor can hit the button if some one curses...or in this case, uses the new "n" word...

He may not get his full payout. But he is gonna get some loot. No doubt.

The HCIC said...

If Larry Brown can get his full payout, Imus can get his full payout :)

Brother T said...

That is true!

In reality...Imus was DOING his job...Brown wasn't..LOL

Big Blue Monkey said...

While I actually agree with the general sentiment here in the comments, can we not make a distinction between the anonymous "ho's" of rap lyrics, and the very real women of Rutgers?

To me, and to the law, I believe, there's a huge difference between saying "Let me tell you about whores" and "These particular women are whores."

Also, it should be noted that while "nappy-headed ho's" is the three word quote, Imus' diatribe included a lot more than that, including a discussion that the (mainly white) Tennessee team was "cute."

If Imus wins this lawsuit, I hope the Rutgers women turn around and sue him for defamation of character, and take the money back.

Imus had a long history of being a racist dickbag, and I don't think CBS or MSNBC should get let off the hook for it; however, nor do I think Imus should get $40 million dollars for "doing his job" if doing his job meant being a racist, sexist dick.

JJ said...

Amen to Big Blue Money for getting it. Imus wasn't randomly talking about some hos...as is the case with much of mainstream rap.

He called a team of basketball players, young women, students at a top notch University Hos...big difference...

I'm not justifying rappers lyrics..I'm pointing out what should be very obvious differences.

The HCIC said...

BBM brings up an interesting point about defamation. Imus did address his insults toward actual people. And I did do my part in disproving that the women were, in fact, not nappy headed. The ho part? Eh, who knows.

But, sadly, Imus has 40 million reasons to sue. Lawyers are lined up to help him. The Rutgers ladies didn't suffer nearly as much actual damage. People pick on Al Sharpton, but that's all the support those Rutgers girls are going to get.