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Hot Story: I-Mess

Beltway Boys

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": Coming up on "The Beltway Boys," Don Imus pays dearly for his racially charged comments. Is his punishment fair, or is he the victim of a double standard?

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": Race also colored the Duke lacrosse case. We'll tell you why the presumption of innocence for the students went out the window.

KONDRACKE: John McCain continues to stand firm on the Iraq war.

BARNES: And we'll tell you why Rudy Giuliani's pro-choice position is coming back to haunt him.

KONDRACKE: All that's coming up on "The Beltway Boys." But first, the headlines from New York.


KONDRACKE: I'm Mort Kondracke.

BARNES: And I'm Fred Barnes, and we're "The Beltway Boys."

"Hot Story": "I-Mess." You got that? You know, I-Man, Don Imus, "I- Mess."

KONDRACKE: I got it. Yes. Yes.

BARNES: Because he has - he obviously has left a - a mess behind after he was hired - fired from his talk radio show on - on CBS. It was also nationally televised on MSNBC. Canned from both. He's gone now, and - and the truth is he - he does leave a mess behind.

I mean, for years he - he got away with this offensive talk and this trash talk and - and really, a lot of racially innuendo and racial slurs. And nothing happened to him until, finally, he - he went after - with racial language this perfectly innocent young women who are on the Rutgers basketball team, a team that had had a wonderful season and deserved nothing but praise. Then the advertisers bailed, and boy, that was it for Don Imus.

But here's what he leaves behind: One, he leaves behind questions about free speech and whether there was a double standard set in his case, and I think there probably was. That doesn't exonerate him, but I think it was there.

And - and then he leaves behind this question, Mort: why was he allowed to do this for years and years and years on radio and television without anybody really making an effort to force him to clean up his language or - or take a hike.

You know, I think Imus and everything he did is only a reflection of something that is much bigger in America, and that's this low-life, trashy, sex-and-violence-drenched culture that has really come to dominate in many ways public life in America. It's all over - I mean, it is our pop culture now. And it - it's just a - reached a level of - of even - of - of we see it in bad manners and incivility in just our public life and people getting along.

And it is sad to say, but I think the people who went after Imus, and in particular the Revs. Al Sharpton and - and Jesse Jackson have done nothing - zilch, zip - to deal with this much broader cultural problem in America. Now they represent the black community; that's where it's probably the worst, and has - and has the worst effect. It - it - and I think it's the worst in our music industry.

Now I want to single out on person in particular, our buddy Juan Williams, who has gone after this broader cultural problem. Watch what Juan said about the music industry in particular.


JUAN WILLIAMS, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: And these people, the musicians, the whole music industry, is willing to disparage black people to put them in the worst possible light because they're selling it I think to people who want an invitation, want an excuse, to enjoy racial stereotypes.


KONDRACKE: Yes. You know, the more I read about all the slurs - I gave up watching - listening to Imus a long, long time ago because he was a potty mouth. But - you know, and I didn't realize that - how racially - filled with racial slurs he was, and ethnic slurs and slurs against gays and all - all that stuff. And I - so I think he - he got what he deserved.

And you're - look, you're absolutely right about the - the sleaze, and you - and Juan is, too - in - in American society. I think at the top of the list, or maybe the bottom of the list, is the song "Hard Out There for a Pimp" by the group - by the group Three Six Mafia that actually got an Academy Award in 2005.

And here's some of the - the - the lyrics, which I will not - I will not attempt to read. It's - it's rap - rap lyrics. But.


KONDRACKE: .you get - you get the impression.

BARNES: (INAUDIBLE), don't you?

KONDRACKE: I'm - I'm - I'm sorry I don't.

Now I do not recall Al Sharpton and - and Jesse Jackson appearing at the - at the Academy Awards with protest signs out to say that this was demeaning to African-Americans. Now the - the gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg defended all this kind of stuff, by claiming that - quote - "rappers are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the level of education and sports. We're talking about the hos in the hood, and that ain't" - blank - "that are trying to get" the n-word "for - for his money."

I mean, you know, they're.

BARNES: Mort - Mort, I just want to tell you, you're never going to make it as a rapper.

KONDRACKE: No, I'm not going to make it as a rapper.

And - you know, what - what Snoop Dogg is - is absolute garbage. I mean, the - the - the what the rap - rap music and - and videos are all over TV, especially MTV and - and BET. And ordinary African-American kids and white kids, as a matter of fact, too, are subjected to this kind of stuff. And they're not making distinctions about real prostitutes and not. They - they have this impression of African-American women in the main. And it's violent, and it's misogynist. And - and - you know, and it's - and it's deplorable.

Now here's just one last clip from the - the group crime mob. And this - this is currently in the top 10. Warning to everybody: it's bad.




KONDRACKE: And so on.

BARNES: I don't know what to make of that. What should I? I mean, that - that wasn't exactly "Moon River" or "Que Sera Sera." Those were songs that won Academy Awards some years ago.

Look, Mort, we have free speech in America, but that doesn't mean that we have to have a race to the bottom culturally just to sell whatever sells. Just - and in particular, as you pointed out, do we have to sell this trash to our children, in particular. Because they're the ones who are the biggest consumers of pop culture. All I watch on TV now is sports. And I don't listen to the radio much, just use tapes.

Mort, you remember years ago, Daniel Bell at Harvard. You - you were at Harvard for a year, you probably took one of his classes, as I did. But he wrote a book called "The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism." And his point was that in a free-market society where we have great prosperity, we also have things like prostitution and - and - and we could have a - a totally debauched popular culture.

And I don't think we have to - but it isn't something that is required by capitalism. We don't have to allow this to happen. And - and - and I'd like to see some people who complained about Don Imus step forward and - and protest it. Then they can have some impact.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I'd like to see them protest TV sitcoms, which are all about sexual innuendo. I mean, it's how fast can you get somebody into bed.

If you go on cable, you can find full-frontal nudity and the - and the f-word used with - with abandon. And, you know, what - what - what happened with Howard Stern, who has even got a filthier mouth than - than Don Imus ever did is that he went to satellite radio, where he made $200 million. I predict that - that Don Imus will follow him there and probably get rich as a result of this whole thing.

BARNES: He - he probably will.

Now Mort, you know, we're not going to have outright censorship in America, though it might not be a bad idea. It's not going to happen. But we can have regulation. And we have the public airwaves; we have the Federal Communications Commission. And they were the ones who - who fined Howard Stern. There's so much more that they can do to insist on, and - and at least the broadcast networks can respond. We can go back to having a family hour, rather than that to 8-to9 period, which is now the smutty hour.

In other words, we do not have to accept the culture that's thrust on us and our children right now.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, you know, every once in a while, there is a moment when - when some politician stands up and - and - and complains about this. And you remember Al Gore and Tipper Gore went after the record industry, and then they were - then they were so afraid of losing the Democratic youth vote that they - that they.

BARNES: And the Hollywood money.

KONDRACKE: Right, and they completely backed off of it. You know, and you - and you had all these politicians, many of them upstanding people, appearing on Don Imus and - and listening to this stuff, and sort of towel- snapping with him. You know, what - what is required is for the Barack Obamas and the Hillary Clintons and the - and everybody else to - to rise up against their Hollywood patrons. I'll - I'll wait to see if that happens.

BARNES: Here! Here!

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