The announcement that CBS has canceled the Don Imus radio program ("effective immediately, on a permanent basis," the network says in its bulletin, as if it couldn't put enough emphasis on its decision) marks the near end of what has been one of the swiftest falls from grace for a media personality in recent memory. (And remember, this is a nation that loves to tear down its darlings, for reasons both justified and not.) I say "near end" because further developments can always happen here. There's the chance that some outlet may actually hire Imus up - perhaps satellite radio, where anything and everything goes. There's the chance that Imus will send himself to character rehab a la Gibson, Richards, Washington et al. And, of course, there's the likelihood that some variant of the Imus story will end up on one of the three Law & Orders between now and the end of May sweeps - ’cause, you know, that's how they roll. Of course, Dick Wolf would have to throw in a murder or two, as well as paint the story with enough enhanced detail so as to keep the "ripped from the headlines" credo while making the episode not exactly about Imus. And who would play the character of Imus (Not Imus)? Is Rip Torn out of prison yet?
Oh, and there is one other matter that needs to be dealt with - what the hell were all of the politicians and reporters and authors and other reputable figures from both sides of the political spectrum thinking whenever they agreed to be booked on the Imus in the Morning program, knowing that their marbled-mouthed host had the reputation of spewing all sorts of hatred onto the airwaves? I mean, everyone from Dan Rather and Tim Russert to John McCain and Barack Obama had done Imus' show? Didn't their participation signify a tacit affirmation of his persona? How many of them are looking in the mirror and shaking their heads at themselves in shame - that is, when they aren't backing away from the corpse of Imus' career and (rightfully, if belatedly) condemning him for the bigot that he is? And what of CBS and MSNBC, who only canned Imus when the advertisers took their money and went home? Are the big bosses there proud of themselves for doing the right thing, or kicking themselves for doing it at least a decade too late? "Nappy headed hos" was far from the worst thing Imus ever said about someone during his years in broadcasting. And say what you will about Howard Stern, who often challenges his former colleague (and current nemesis), but at least he has never tried to sell himself as a serious radio host who was a clear destination for the best and brightest.
It's fitting, perhaps, that Imus got his comeuppance just hours after one of the great minds of the 20th century, Kurt Vonnegut, passed away - and on the 60th birthday of one of the greatest comic talents of his generation, David Letterman. Both Letterman and Vonnegut possess more class and talent in their pinky nails than Imus has in his entire decrepit body and soul. They will live on in our hearts and minds, while Imus is swept away into the landfill of obscurity. That is, until he gets a new job - or at least until L&O turns him into a victim or a suspect or whatnot.