Occam's Disposable Razor
When something weird like this happens, when you have a scandal that seems to come out of nowhere like this, there are two explanations:
First, that it is simply an expression of the Collective Obnoxious -- a lunatic falling-all-over-themselves media frenzy created by the endless pack-mentality and the copycat mindlessness of an increasingly centralized media. As I noted, this started out as a Manhattan food fight, but Manhattan exerts an almost black-hole like effect (the physics phenomenon, no ethnic or racial puns or referents implied), in which the sheer gravity of Manhattan gossip and the concentration of all national media on that wretched island ends up driving a national firestorm, even though, fundamentally, the rest of the country doesn't have much of a dog in the fight.
Or, you have to ask yourself "Who benefits? Who profits from all this gratuitous misery?"
Certainly, as my friends can testify, I nailed -- with that question -- that Eugene state senator Vicki Walker stood to gain the most from the "Neil Goldschmidt" controversy of 2004, even as the media firestorm overshadowed the primary election, and drove all meaningful political discussion from the stage. Two months later, on the verge of being "outed" as the secret source of the career-destroying revelation that the ex-governor had a long-term affair with his baby-sitter a quarter century earlier, Ms. Walker outed herself as the "Deep Throat" of the matter. Having asked the question, it came as no surprise. (Merely as an affirmation of the effectiveness of asking the question that none of my lame-brain "colleagues" in the media bothered to ask.)
And, in like manner, we ask ourselves, "Who benefited?" in L'Affaire Imus.
The only answer I can come up with is: The Bush Administration.
I can hear you screaming, WHAT??!? All right, hear me out.
First, a very vocal media critic of the administration was silenced. Permanently.
(Kind of like Dan Rather, who's been replaced by that masturbation fantasy of the shut-in Right Wing, squeaky-clean Nazi nymphet Katie Couric. See here. And HOW COME there wasn't an equivalent firestorm over Katie's unbelievably crass plagiarism of the Wall Street Journal? Surely THAT vile bit of theft and cover-up far exceeds Imus' media sins by orders of magnitude. I guess Les Moonves was too busy firing the Imus staff -- and one CBS producer of Katie's -- to worry about such a triviality as blatant plagiarism by CBS' flagship anchor -- "I remember my first library card...." Good ghod. Or, perhaps she was too busy smearing Obama.)
And, the spotlight was, for a solid week, turned away from a myriad of major scandals, from a war that's melting down, and the bloodiest war week in Canadian military history since Korea in Afghanistan -- another war that's melting down. Alberto Gonzales got some breathing room, and Bush didn't have to make a speech EVERY MORNING to try and hijack the news cycle.
For a bunch that tries to hijack EVERY news cycle when it suits their needs, it was tantamount to a two-week vacation on the French Riviera. A much-needed week to get their ducks in a row, and their wagons in a circle.
By comparison to the outrageous plethora of Administration scandals, the Imus imbroglio was nothing more than media gladiatorial fluff: cotton candy for the OJ/Scott Peterson/Anna Nicole Smith rubbernecking-at-the-train-wreck demographic.
And lookie what happened: Barack Obama's presidential candidacy is suddenly facing an ugly racial backlash that didn't exist a week ago; the Bushies got a week's worth of breathing room; the Right Wing has been inflamed at the PeeCee "madness" of the "libs" -- as any assay of Right Wing web sites will quickly confirm -- and the pointy-headed bastards of the KKK/GOP leveraged a very nice week of intangible gains for the next election cycle.
Remember: fomenting race war was their tactic in 2006, even though it didn't work, just as fomenting anti-gay hysteria was their tactic in 2004, which DID work. And today America is quite a bit more racially polarized than it was just one week ago. Hmmm.
So, I have to ask myself, WHO benefited from the mess?
The media and blogosphere have begun to turn on Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the Society of Black Journalists in an equally crazy backlash. The KKK/GOP managed to get a week of cover. The Administration was off the front pages in a week that they didn't WANT to be on them (as opposed to the usual attempt to suck all the oxygen from the room). And there is a vast reserve of new unfocused anger and paranoia that can be exploited politically when the time comes.
I'd say someone made out big time, and left the rest of us with an ugly racial hangover.
But then, accusing the Bushies of media manipulation (or, in this case, exploiting a relatively inane comment made to a national cable audience of 3, if you include my cat, sort of like the well-timed firestorm that knocked John Kerry out of the race two months ago*) is just paranoia. Right?
[*NOTE: Watch out. Democratic candidates are being "swift-boated" in much the same way that Nixon took out Democratic candidates -- like Ed Muskie -- in 1972, until he had EXACTLY the opponent he wanted to face, George McGovern. The same thing seems to be happening here, and you ignore the manipulation at the peril of what remains of that "Of the people, by the people, for the people" notion that Lincoln so famously noted. The Muskie thing, by the by, was Karl Rove's 'baptism in slime' for that career that has arc'd without deviation to this sad point in history. - HW]