In these days following the firing of Don Imus from radio and television, I have been appalled to see many of his former regular guests trash him in the press. The trashing is, of course, done somewhat diplomatically: "My Life as a Hypocrite," trumpeted the pull-quote in Frank Rich's column about Imus in Sunday's (4-15-07) New York Times. Other former guests --- many of whom were happy to call him a friend before --- are now seeking to disassociate themselves from him by saying that they only appeared on his show to sell a book, tout a column, or feed their own egos. But they never ---never! --- chuckled at, smiled at, found amusing, or otherwise condoned the other material he featured on his show. All along, they say, they thought he was a crass, piggish, immature, racially-insensitive sexist. They say, "We knew it all along, and we still appeared. We sold out, and we're sorry."
Do you know what this is? It's preemptive apologizing to deflect any residual stigma from flicking up onto them. It's the journalists' version of celebrity rehab.
It's also something else. It's the kind of self-serving opportunism that they say drove them to do his show in the first place. And it's incredibly disingenuous.
I've got news for these newspeople: The Imus controversy is NOT ABOUT YOU! Their arrogance in believing that it IS about them is astounding, although not surprising. Because he's in trouble now, many of these sanctimonious people ---- who profited mightily thanks to him--- are now throwing him under the bus. I won't be one of them.
What he said was offensive. But the man has apologized sincerely and profusely and lost his jobs. These people are trying to fend off some mythical "guilt by association" by playing Simon Peter --- "Not I!" Well. Like Simon Peter's actions, the actions of these former "friends" of Imus speak volumes about their character.
I appeared many times on Imus's show and anchored The Best of Imus on MSNBC. The man has been very good to me --- and to many, many others --- over the years. It's a shame so many others have found it necessary to kick him while he's down as a way to try to elevate themselves.