On Fox News, Kalb called for Imus to resign

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On the April 9 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, discussing radio host Don Imus' April 4 comments on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning -- in which Imus referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" -- Marvin Kalb, lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a senior fellow at the school's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, noted Imus' charity work and said Imus could make "an even larger statement about himself, his own value system, if he simply resigned." Kalb added that Imus' resignation would "make a statement to the entire industry that there are limits to what ought to be said, ought to be tolerated."

Additionally, Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who co-anchors Fox News' America's Newsroom, said the show had received mail from viewers asserting that "[i]f this had happened on a more conservative radio show, or a commentator like [Fox News host] Sean Hannity or [Fox News host] Bill O'Reilly had something like this, the media, everyone would be skewering him ... but because [Imus] leans left and is not quite in that category, they were predicting there would be ... much more forgiveness for him much more readily." Host Martha MacCallum seemed to agree with those viewers, saying, "I'm sure. I would venture that you're right about that."

Neither Kelly nor MacCallum offered any basis for the claim that Imus "leans left." As Media Matters for America has noted, Imus has previously claimed that he is voting for self-described conservative Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for president in 2008. In a January 24, 2005, article, The New York Times reported that "[a]lthough Mr. Imus's politics are more contrarian than they are Democratic or Republican, he voted for Senator John Kerry for president and criticized the Bush administration throughout last fall's campaign." In an article published in the Summer 2004 edition of The Public Interest, a now-defunct conservative quarterly, Northeastern University associate political science professor William G. Mayer classified Imus as "non-ideological." Less than a year ago, Imus referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) on the air as "Satan" 11 times, once calling her "that buck-tooth witch, Satan." He also called former Vice President Al Gore "the phoniest bastard on the planet" and "a horrid human being."

During the show, MacCallum also asked Kalb: "If it were someone like a Sean Hannity, for example, who uttered the kind of thing that Don Imus has uttered, what do you think the response would be by -- you know -- some of the people who will likely go right back and be on Imus' show again tomorrow?" Kalb replied: "I think it's exactly what you said. I think those people would be skewered -- absolutely right. But it would be wrong for them and wrong for Imus."

From the April 9 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk with Martha MacCallum:

KALB: And I think that Imus, by the way, ought to be congratulated for the wonderful work that he has done for poor children over the years. He's a very wealthy man, and he uses money to good effect in that way. I would think, at this point, he would be making an even larger statement about himself, his own value system, if he simply resigned. Simply make a statement to the entire industry that there are limits to what ought to be said, ought to be tolerated. All kinds of people go on his program. They can find another anchor. That's not a problem.

[...]

KELLY: You know, what's interesting, Martha, is, on our show, this morning, we covered this a little bit. We got just tons of viewer mail on it and the viewers were saying -- to pick up on Marvin's point about whether people will continue going on his show -- they were saying, "If this had happened on a more conservative radio show, or a commentator like Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly had something like this, the media, everyone would be skewering him.

MacCALLUM: The same people that would be back on the show tomorrow.

KELLY: There would be no forgiveness. They -- you know, they would be banned, but because he leans left and is not quite in that category, they were predicting there would be a much more forgiveness for him much more readily.

MacCALLUM: I'm sure. I would venture that you're right about that.

[...]

KELLY: Let me just get a quick thought from Marvin Kalb. Marvin, what you think about that? If it were someone like a Sean Hannity, for example, who uttered the kind of thing that Don Imus has uttered, what do you think the response would be by -- you know -- some of the people who will likely go right back and be on Imus' show again tomorrow?

KALB: I think it's exactly what you said. I think those people would be skewered -- absolutely right. But it would be wrong for them and wrong for Imus. If he wants to do something that has value, step out right now and make a statement to the entire industry because this industry is in trouble and needs help.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender, Race & Ethnicity
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Martha MacCallum, Marvin Kalb
Show/Publication
The Live Desk
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