TIM RUSSERT: Guilty of a Double-Standard?
Russert's Failure to Speak Out Against His Friend Don Imus
If you're concerned about bigotry on the syndicated radio show "Imus in the Morning," you should just "get over it."
That's what the show's star, Don Imus, told journalist Jeff Greenfield on CNN's "Larry King Live" a few weeks ago (2/24/00). Greenfield was questioning Imus about recent columns in two prominent newspapers that documented a pattern of slurs by Imus and his on-air sidekicks against people of color, gay men and lesbians (Boston Globe, 2/23/00; Newsday, 2/22/00).
Imus himself has referred to one African-American journalist as "a cleaning lady," another as a "quota hire," and tennis player Amelie Mauresmo as "a big old lesbo." Imus taunted another reporter as a "beanie-wearing little Jewboy," called a disabled colleague "the cripple," and has said that he picked one of his producers to do "nigger jokes." ("60 Minutes," 7/19/98)
National politicians and beltway journalists have brought the "Imus in the Morning" show to nationwide prominence - the show is now carried by cable network MSNBC - by making "Imus" a regular stop on their media rounds.
One such reporter is NBC's Tim Russert - the same Tim Russert who, on his own NBC show, was unsparing in questioning George W. Bush about the candidate's appearance at Bob Jones University in South Carolina ("Meet the Press," 2/13/00).
Russert wondered if Bush's appearance at a school with a history of anti-Catholic bigotry and racial discrimination was "giving affirmation to that institution." He asked Bush: "But people who know you and respect you and like you say, 'George W. Bush, Thomas Burch and Bob Jones III aren't your kind of people. Why are you associating with them?'"
ACTION: Ask Tim Russert whether his appearances on the "Imus in the Morning show" give "affirmation" to the kind of obvious racism that is featured on the program. Ask him whether the line of questioning he had for Bush applies to his own appearances on the "Imus in the Morning" show. Contact: Tim Russert.
Published: May 08 2000