Watching Celebrities Self-destruct
For example, last Nov. 22, the elegant Jack Valenti, former advisor to President Lyndon Johnson and recently retired president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, was Imus’s guest on the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination. Imus asked Valenti where he was on that day, and then shut up as Valenti delivered a riveting, incredibly moving 15- or 20-minute monologue describing the events of that dark day 44 years ago in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. Unlike MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who listens with his mouth, Imus remained silent throughout. I pulled into the supermarket parking lot and sat in the car, totally enraptured by the story and Valenti’s mellifluous voice.
Radio doesn’t get any better than that.
Of course, Imus could not resist destroying the magic by asking Jack Valenti if Lyndon Johnson had sex with Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Valenti was appalled and denied it hotly. And then he added, “Don Imus, you are a naughty, naughty man.”
This Story May Have a Long Fuse
The racist slur against a women’s college basketball team should end the career of Don Imus. Quite simply, if the galaxy of luminaries whom he interviews—usually by phone—has any guts, they will no longer appear. Among them: Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, John McCain, Jeff Greenfield, Donald Trump, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden and a slew of others.
Hereafter, by coming on the program, they are legitimizing the kind of naked racism that takes the country back to the ugliness of the 1930s.
No celebs, and “Imus in the Morning” will wither and die.
Alas, as David Carr wrote in yesterday’s New York Times:
“Imus in the Morning” is scheduled to start this morning like any other, with Don Imus and his crew cracking wise about the weekend’s events, riffing off the news and chatting with Evan Thomas, one of Newsweek’s top guns. Later Tom Oliphant, Washington author and former op-ed columnist for The Boston Globe, will check in for some political talk.