It's Uptown Saturday Night for Imus...Again.
One might think after Don Imus was humiliated and fired last year from his radio and TV gigs for calling the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team, “nappy-headed hos,” that he might have discovered the concept of self editing. But, no.
Yesterday morning, he baffled his loyal listeners on his new show, broadcast by WABC in New York and the RFD cable channel, when he had a strange exchnage with sportscaster Warner Wolf. Wolf was reading a report about Adam “Pacman” jones, who has been arrested six times. Imus asked, “What color” Jones is. When told he is black, Imus responded, “Well, there you go,” Imus said. “Now we know.”
Given Imus’s past, the assumption was that Imus was making a glib remark that Jones was, perhaps, a typical black athlete always getting into trouble.
Imus has explained that he was defending blacks with his Monday remarks. “What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason, and I mean there’s no reason to arrest this kid six times,” he said. “They shoot blacks for no reason.”
Hmmm. Okay. But since Imus didn’t know Jones was black, it’s not likely that he knew anything about the nature of the arrests when he made the comment. For all, Imus knew, Jones could have bee arrested for robbery, assault, whatever. Also, if that was his intent, he could have left things a little less ambiguous….
Near the 2007 NFL Draft, Jones's off-field issues (one revealed instance involved in a fist fight and a shooting in a Las Vegas strip club that paralyzed manager Tommy Urbanski) led many to believe that the Titans would cut or trade Jones before his third season in the league began. On April 10, 2007, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced a 1-year suspension for Jones, to be re-evaluated after the 10th regular-season game, pending disposition of current cases.
On August 25, 2006, Jones was arrested in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for disorderly conduct and public intoxication after claiming that a woman stole his wallet. She claimed that she did not steal anything and Jones spat on her. Police officers said they ordered Jones to leave several times, but he refused, continuing to shout profanities at the woman. A judge granted him six months probation on the conditions that he stays out of further trouble and away from the nightclub. On October 26, 2006. Jones was cited for misdemeanor assault for allegedly spitting in the face of a female student from Tennessee State University during a private party at Club Mystic, a Nashville nightclub. He was suspended by the Titans for one game and was scheduled to be booked on the charge on November 17, 2006.
Jones also is set to appear in a Fayetteville, Georgia court in 2007 for his February 2006 incident on subpoenas for felony and misdemeanor obstruction of justice charges for an incident outside a home. The charges of marijuana possession in the same state were dismissed.
On June 18, 2007 Jones was sought by police for questioning after a shooting at an Atlanta strip club allegedly involved members of his entourage. According to police at the scene, Jones was not present during the shooting, and is not being charged.
Trouble seems to follow Jones wherever he goes. Maybe it's this aspect of Jones's life that Imus can relate to.
On Imus's new show, he has added two black sidekicks: "Comedian" Karith Foster, who, for my money, is one of the most hopelessly un-funny people anywhere; and sportcaster Tony Powell, who tries to funny up the show with tortured "comedic" essays he has written. The laughter on the set from other cast members feels more obligatory than spontaneous.
My critiques aside, Imus's ratings have been on the up-swing. And most of the media personalities, politicians and advertisers who frequented his old show have returned. In recent weeks, he has had John Kerry, John McCain and Joe Lieberman on the show.
It appears there was enough ambiguity in Imus's remarks that he will survive this. But the whole incident shows that on any given day Imus is capable of buying a ticket on the Clueless Train.
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