Watching Celebrities Self-destruct
And then there’s Peter Jennings, who we are told more Americans get their news from than anyone else — and a man who freely admits that he cannot resist women. So I’m thinking, here’s Peter Jennings sitting there each evening, elegant, erudite, refined. And I’m thinking, what’s under his desk? I mean, besides an intern. [audience groans] The first place the telecommunications bill should have mandated that a v-chip be placed is in Mr. Jennings shorts.[audience groans]
The speech caused a tsunami in Washington. The question that was endlessly debated for weeks: How could the correspondents be so stupid as to invite Imus?
One reporter—I think it was Sam Donaldson—said, “If you put an alligator in the swimming pool, somebody’s going to get a leg bitten off.”
On “Imus in the Morning,” the cowboy-hat-wearing host and his merry band of truly nasty regulars—producer Bernard McGuirk, sportscaster Sid Rosenberg and comedian Rob Bartlett—hurl insults at all religions, all races, all lifestyles as well as at celebrities, politicians, reporters, philanderers, businesspeople and the idiocy of government and the media.
Even his sullen, humorless wife, Deirdre Imus, shows up occasionally to radiate contempt for everyone in the world who is not vegan.
Only Imus’s sycophantic announcer—the perpetually beleaguered Charles McCord— plays the embarrassed good cop to everybody else’s bad cop.
The tension is palpable.
Why did I watch? Why did I play with a loose tooth as a kid?
Getting His Life Together
A number of years ago, Imus gave up drugs and drinking and devoted his spare time to the Imus Ranch, an enterprise that gives the Western cowboy experience to desperately ill little boys and girls. It is a quirky but beautiful charity.
In addition, only a handful of interviewers are as masterful as Don Imus in drawing information out of people—Tim Russert, Brian Lamb of C-SPAN, Dick Cavett, Charlie Rose, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, and Gwen Ifill, the enormously capable and intelligent African-American moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week,” and senior correspondent for “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer”, whom Imus once called “a cleaning lady.”