Friday, May 04, 2007

Something Rotten at CBS?

Imus Fired: Take Two

Brief recap: Radio host Don Imus was fired a couple of weeks ago for doing what he always has done on his morning radio program. For this newly determined indiscretion Imus apologized. And apologized. And apologized, ad infinitum, ad absurdum, ad nauseum. And all for naught, it turned out, because his bosses at CBS and MSNBC determined that all of a sudden the radio fare that Imus had been turning out for three decades was no longer permissible on their air.

Imus’ attorney Martin Garbus told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" that CBS Radio and MSNBC had delay buttons but didn't use them when Imus made racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team last month. Both CBS and MSNBC have denied they could have used a delay button. (Source)

But Garbus asserts that "CBS and MSNBC both knew the language that was going out, and both knew the language complied with (Imus') contract. ... It was consistent with many of the things he had done." He cited a contract clause in which CBS acknowledged that Imus' services were "unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial," and that the clause said Imus' programming was desired by the company and was consistent with company rules and policy. A $40 million lawsuit seems to be in the works, and if Garbus is correct about the clause in the contract, CBS not only knew the nature of the content of Imus in the Morning, but also wrote into the contract a clause that guaranteed that content would be aired regularly. Imus, in fact, would be in violation of the contract and subject to action for breach of contract if he had failed to produce the content that ultimately caused CBS to fire him.

This legal morass will wind up being sorted out by the courts, if a settlement is not reached first. But if Imus’ attorney is correct, CBS messed up in caving into pressure from activists and advertisers.

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