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  • Writer's pictureJerry Della Femina


Don Imus, who died on December 27, was a good friend.

I was a guest on his radio show many times.

I used him to do advertising for my clients.

He wrote a great ad for me for Teacher’s Scotch. He did some great commercials for my clients Hackensack University Medical Center, WNBC Radio and Yonkers Raceway.

Once, when he was retired, he needed a copy of an old radio piece he did on a show called Monitor during the early 1970s. I searched for two weeks and finally found it. I brought it to him at his apartment.

He said:

“Jerry, of all the advertising phonies I have dealt with, you’re the only advertising phony I know who always keeps his word. Thank you.” I took that as a wonderful compliment. I wrote two columns about Don Imus during that period, before and after he was suspended and then fired by the CBS Radio Group and MSNBC television. Here is one of them: IMUS He’s a good man. He’s under fire. Don Imus is so many things. If you’re a soldier wounded in Iraq, who is caught in a rotting ward at Walter Reed Hospital, he is the best man to have on your side. That goes for a kid of any race or religion with cancer. Or a parent who has lost an infant to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). He’s built hospitals and a ranch in New Mexico for kids who face an early death, and if you have a good cause he is by your side and he puts his money where his mouth is. If you’re a fake, this is your time to come out from under your rock. He’s reeling and he’s in trouble. Who is Imus? He’s wild. He’s funny. He’s nuts. He’s tough. He’s compassionate. He’s smart. He’s paranoid. He’s impatient. He’s obsessive. He’s loyal. He’s a lot of things ... but there is one thing he is not. He is not, nor will he ever be, a racist. Don Imus is not a racist. Racists are not the people who say wild, silly, stupid things like Imus did the other day when he called the members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy-headed hos.” It was an incredibly dumb thing to say – tasteless and cruel – but that’s not what a racist is all about. A real racist would never blurt out something outrageous like that because a real racist is always on guard. You won’t catch him or her blurting out a statement that can be called racist. Have you ever heard Bill O’Reilly make a racist statement? Rush Limbaugh? There are a lot of forces trying to get you and me to believe that with this one stupid statement, Imus has ruined the lives of these young girls. I have to wonder if any of these girls have ever heard Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle. Or listened to gangsta rappers using degrading words about black women. I’ll bet that if you asked any one of the women on the Rutgers basketball team to let you hear the songs they have on their iPods, you would hear some disgusting anti-women lyrics that would shock you far more than Imus’ incredibly dumb words. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming these kids for what Imus said – I’m blaming the world and the media that is making this a double standard world. And before you tell me that it’s OK for an African-American to make millions demeaning African-American women, stop. That’s the equivalent of me saying since I’m an Italian-American, the only people who can call me a guinea or a wop or my wife and daughters “putanas” are Italian-American comedians, because when it comes from the mouth of an Italian-American comedian it’s funny, but when it comes from the mouth of anyone else it’s an insult. It is unfortunate that CBS Radio suspended Imus for two weeks starting next Monday. For a lot of years Imus has joked on the air about being born with three balls. Unfortunately, that happens to be three more than most executives in the broadcasting business have. I tuned into Imus this morning, as I have for the past 30 years. He was sadly subdued. As I listened to Don trying to be politically correct, I was reminded of the story of the centipede that was about to eat an ant when the ant asked, “How can you walk with all those legs?” The centipede thought about this for a second and then collapsed, unable to walk again. Don, when his show cannot be totally spontaneous and wild with material that will offend every group equally, loses that magic that has made him the greatest radio personality in history. Let’s hope he comes back tougher and funnier and more insightful than ever. Until then, for me and millions of others, Morning won’t be Morning. POSTSCRIPT: Don Imus came back on WABC Radio and was better and wilder than ever. I was disappointed that all of the obituaries written recently when Imus died spoke mostly about the four seconds of his career involving the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Covering four seconds of a great 50-year career is bad reporting. Also, no mention was made in the press of the fact that Don and his wife Deirdre’s adopted son, Zachary Don Cates, a leukemia survivor who attended Don’s camp for children with cancer, is African-American. -If you wish to comment on “Jerry’s Ink” please send your message to

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