Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do They Really Matter?

Hi everybody. Shorter blog today. Tuesday's 360 spent a lot of airtime on Don Imus again being racist and/or stupid, as well as gave precious coverage minutes to that bastion of tolerance, James Dobson, who apparently got his boxers in a twist over something Obama said involving religion. I don't know; I wasn't paying attention enough to know the specifics, but I'm sure in Dobson's eyes gay people are somehow at fault. Anyway, my first reaction was of course, "for the love of God, stop!" I mean, who cares, right? There's plenty of more important things to be talking about.

But then I decided to take a little trip in the way-back machine to a few years ago when offensive comments and whatnot never really got much coverage. And that annoyed me too, so apparently I'm hard to please. I guess when it comes to Imus, the thing that ticks me off besides the saturation of coverage, is that he's in no way alone when it comes to distasteful comments. It just seems like stories like this have become more about what works for the particular show or station ratings wise and less about calling someone out for verbally polluting the airwaves.

Just look at the whole Keith Olbermann/Bill O'Reilly feud. At first I was thrilled that someone was finally pointing out that O'Reilly is insane, but now it's just become a juvenile food fight for ratings, which Olbermann admits with no shame. There's some similarities with 360 and the Imus thing. Last time Imus opened his big mouth the show went crazy with the story. Now that he's thrown the media some crumbs again, 360 is milking it for all it's worth. I say the shark has been jumped. What does more Imus coverage accomplish? Nothing. If they want to do more coverage like this maybe they can focus on CNN's own Glenn Beck.

But James Dobson is a different animal than Don Imus. To my knowledge, Imus has no agenda. He's just a crass and most likely racist shock jock. Abhorrent, yes. But dangerous? Not likely. On the other hand, Dobson, according to Focus on the Family's mission statement, wants to promote "biblical truths worldwide." And seeing that not even Christians can agree on what constitutes a biblical truth, well, we know where this goes. Dobson wants to promote his interpretation of the Bible, which I probably don't need to tell you, doesn't work out so well for gay people . . . or women that want control over their own bodies . . . or basically anyone that doesn't fit a role in his cookie-cutter idea of a family.

It would be nice to be able to ignore people like Dobson and think of him as just one of those crazy guys on the street holding up a sign. But this crazy guy has a radio show and a huge audience. Did you know he reaches 220 million people in 160 countries? Again, 220 million! So he has influence. Major influence. And I think it's a mistake to ignore him because the rest of the public needs to know what this guy is up to. Probably many people have never even heard of people like Dobson or Pat Robertson or a myriad of other snake-oil sellers, yet there are millions who follow their words . . . right to the voting booth.

So while the most recent headlines with Dobson pretty much fall under "silly season" material, I think a little coverage of it is okay (just a little). I'd love to see Anderson Cooper interview Dobson himself. As for Imus? For the love of God, 360, please stop.


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