May 4, 2007

"CBS wanted him to do it... CBS wanted to encourage him and wanted him to feel totally protected."

So said Imus's monumental lawyer Martin Garbus.
Agents and media lawyers say one clause in Imus's contract, highlighted by Garbus, is highly unusual. It says his services "are of a unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial and personal character" and that programs containing these elements "are desired" by CBS and "are consistent with company rules and policies."

But other contract language, obtained by The Washington Post, will be used by CBS lawyers to argue that the company had "just cause" to dump Imus. These clauses cover "any distasteful or offensive words or phrases" that CBS believes "would not be in the public interest" or could jeopardize its broadcast license, as well as language that brings the company or its advertisers "into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or which provokes, insults or offends the community or any group or class thereof."

A CBS spokesman declined to comment, but two people familiar with the company's strategy, who asked not to be identified discussing possible litigation, said the Rutgers comments were so outrageous as to trigger several clauses that they maintain did not require a warning to Imus.

Garbus dismissed that argument, saying: "CBS's interpretation of the contract, stringing together words from here and there, would render the clause meaningless. Contracts are not interpreted that way."
It sounds like a great contracts case. High stakes too. The contract was worth $40 million, and he's going to claim other damages, covering "reduced income for Imus's private businesses and charities, as well as his future earnings in broadcasting."

It's smart to make the charities relevant like that, not only as a way to extract more money from CBS, but also to expose the jury to information that makes Imus very sympathetic.

This will be very interesting. Think Imus should win?


J. Cricket said...

It's smart to make the charities relevant like that, not only as a way to extract more money from CBS, but also to expose the jury to information that makes Imus very sympathetic.

Clearly, you don't know anything about his "charity," which has the highest per camper cost of any such charity (by a magnitude of about ten) and which includes so much luxury for Mr. Imus and his trophy wife that the IRS is still arguing about whether it actually is a charity.

Yeah, great move to bring that all up!!

Roger J. said...

I dont much care about the charity, or any other good works done by Mr. Imus--the bigger issue to me is that his employer encouraged this kind of behavior for 35 years, every politico who wanted to be hip flocked to his web site. thousands of bad authors appeared on his site to push their ghostwritten books, and he makes one remark that upset the racists in chief Al Sharpton, and he gets thrown out.

I dont like Imus--but this isnt an Imus problem; is a stunning study of hypocricy in the NYC media market. I hope Imus bankrupts CBS.

Anonymous said...

Does irreverence include disrespect?

Anton said...

Yes Imus should, and likely will win. My only regret is that his victory won't mean the destruction of CBS, whose news arm at least should've collapsed long ago.

Roger J. said...

Anon: I would suggest that disrespect is how the listener or hearer reacts to irreverence.

Sloanasaurus said...

On a contractual level, Imus should win. On an emotional level Imus should only win if CBS is consistent in getting rid of people who use similar language, which they are not.

They fired Imus because of public pressure, not because Imus violated his contract. Now CBS has to face the cost of doing that.

Sloanasaurus. Read more at John Adams Blog.

drew said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I was a regular Imus listener, since looong before his radio show was syndicated, and before it was televised on MSNBC. Over the many years of the program, the level of irreverence (you can call the nature of his act whatever you wish) was a moving target. Early on, there were bits that were anti-religious (seek out recordings of the Rev. Billy Soul Hargus bits from the 80s), along with a book (God's Other Son, written largely by Charles McCord) that seemed to me to be directly aimed at mainstream religion.

Then followed a revision of sorts - most of the anti-relgious stuff was left behind (except for the [originally weekly] appearances of 'The Cardinal'), and the show truned towards politics and social commentary. Imus' marriage was fair game (Mrs. Imus is indeed a trophy wife, but they both use their positions for some otherwise socially-redeeming works), and he always had a level of self-deprecation that made me contiue to tune in.

I think that his willingness to laugh at himself (or to let others do so repetitively) was refreshing to me.

I also think that the entire controversy surrounding the Rutgers comments has been both blown out of any reasonable proportion, and has highlighted the shallowness of many of the people who most wanted to appear on the show. Mr. Imus 'made' the careers of many an author, partly as a result of the rare fact that he actually read the books, and was an adept interviewer when the authors came on the show. there were politicians begging to be on his show (the ill-fated Gov. Corzine, for example), and they would permit Imus to treat them like they would no other interviewer -- because they wanted the exposure and the attention.

Tim Russert in particular has come out of this process looking very cheapened -- he was a close friend of Imus, even sending an annual birthday gift to Imus' son; yet he wasted no time in abandoning his friend on the altar of public opinion. Many Imus listeners will (I suspect) never forgive this type of self-serving righteousness. If you made a habit of laughing with him on some of his irreverant bits, you should have the intellectual honesty to not jump on the condemnation bandwagon as it passes by.

I've had to find a new station on the clock radio, because Imus' replacements haven't yet met the task of keeping me amused and awake prior to that first cup of coffee in the morning.

While the comments Imus made were inappropriate, they didn't rise to the level of the death penalty; made even more ironic in light of the people who were first to condemn Mr. Imus - Al (white interloper) Sharpton and Jesse (Hymietown) Jackson. They were never obliged to apologize for their statements, and in fact have enjoyed some sort of 'get out of jail free' card as a result. the American public doesn't respect people who say crude things, but I believe they respect less someone who not only speaks intemperately, but also is a hypocrite as well.

TMink said...

What Roger said.


Galvanized said...

How's this for a practical solution -- why doesn't CBS put this gentleman Imus back on the air, and see what advertisers are stupid enough to sign up to support him? Just tell the whole country to watch what advertisers/companies want him back on the air. That will save CBS LOTS of money, will give Imus his job back, and then they can let him go "fairly" because no sponsor will sign up to advertise during his show? He can't argue with popular opinion. Problem solved. (brushing hands)

vet66 said...

Imus and CBS will settle this on the courthouse steps at 'High Noon' as both sides claim victory. The backstory will involve who pressured CBS to neuter Imus. The hypocritical media will not want to address the problem of rap groups routinely saying the same thing Imus said.

It is okay to use the "Ho and Nigga" rap when it makes money for the music/entertainment industry. God forbid a white guy uses the same language to exhibit the same poor taste in referring to Rutgers athletes with a sudden case of sensitivity training.

This close to an election cycle it is no coincidence that certain politicians are pandering to the black vote. Targeting Imus is a thinly disguised tactic to gather some Jackson/Sharpton devotees.

I don't hear much from the CBC regarding this matter as CBS dances to the tune "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen!"

Brent said...

The only time I ever saw Imus over the years was on a hotel TV because I was in a different time zone and I kept thinking I'd give it another try to see why people liked him.

Never "got" Imus - too close to Howard Stern for my taste.

That said, Roger, Sloan and Drew above have it about right: if CBS tolerated and made money off the same sort of outrageous commentary from Imus in the past, then they should give all that money to him now. I mean, they must feel just sick at CBS for keeping all that money made off of years of Imus' insensitive remarks.

Les Moonves, CEO over CBS, statement on Imus firing was the height of hypocrisy - from a News organization that once used "INTEGRITY" as one of it's advertising watchwords.

Will Imus win? Did Marv Albert?

Should Imus win? Yes, Big Time.

Revenant said...

I kind of think Imus should win, yeah. He's been an offensive jackass for decades -- that's his appeal, to those he appeals to at least. CBS hired him hoping he'd be an offensive jackass, and it sounds like they said as much in the contract.

That said, I strongly dislike both Imus and CBS, so my main regret here is that only one of them can lose.

David Drake said...

I believe CBS will win. The contractual provisions quoted and other things referanced in the article appear to give CBS enough room to fire him in these circumstances.

That said, I suspect that he will be back on the air (although perhaps not at CBS) at some time in the near future.

Robert said...

I don't know who will win, but I do hope CBS loses - and not because of the tired old Dan Rather scandal. I want CBS to lose because if they lose big enough, it might keep them from hiring jerks like Imus in the future.

Laura Reynolds said...

I did not listened to Imus that much but think Drew is 100% correct. All these folks that laughed and yuked it up, jumped ship in a blaze of hypocrisy.

CBS will settle out of court and both sides will declare victory, do we really expect lawyers to risk losing?

vnjagvet said...

Drew's is the first comment I have read that captures Imus's appeal to those of us of a certain age.

The cast of characters was always interesting. And the interviews were better than the pap usually doled out in the mass media.

The occasional over the top stuff was usually dryly delivered and seemed to be tongue in cheek, even though in print it reads as purely coarse and offensive.

Sadly, the running for the hills by the likes of Iman regulars Russert, Gregor, et al told us more about them than it did about him.

Richard Dolan said...

Since it's being framed as a contractual dispute, a lot will turn on how the parties' performance over the years sheds light on the practical construction they placed on the relevant contractual terms, particularly where (as here) the parties are relying on general provisions that seem to conflict. I never listened to Imus, but it appears that ethnic insults and put-downs were part of his stock in trade. I suspect that CBS will have a tough time saying that his comments about the Rutgers team crossed a contractual line if CBS was tolerating (encouraging?) the same sort of thing aimed at various ethnic groups over the years.

hdhouse said...

Imus doesn't loose many fights. Garbus rarely looses anything to anyone about anything.

as to AJA's observations about the Imus ranch, that is just bullshit and I would hope that you go an inch further and his attorneys will wipe you up and spit you out. You have no idea what you are talking about or the amount of good that it does or the amount of money he has personally invested in it and he takes not a dime from it.

you are an absolutely jerk to insinuate otherwise.

Anonymous said...

If I'm on the jury, I'd want to know how many times CBS talked to Imus regarding his use of material which "offends the community or any group or class thereof."

If the answer is never, then I find for Imus.

Daryl said...

I don't think you can judge how a K case will end up without being able to see the actual K. Especially when both sides intend to rely on different provisions, and you can't see any of them.

Fen said...

hdhouse: as to AJD's observations about the Imus ranch... you have no idea what you are talking about are an absolutely jerk to insinuate otherwise.

Sensless ad hom devoid of reason. Now I'm interested.

AJD: has the highest per camper cost of any such charity... IRS is still arguing about whether it actually is a charity.

AJ, can you point me toward more info re that? I'm interested in your source and would like to see more.

Randy said...

Fen: I thought hdhouses's comment was sharp but far from senseless. (After all, you indicate it provoked you into further investigation ;-) Like you, I'd sure like to see some documentation for AJD's allegations. I doubt he can or will produce any, however.

(BTW, in case anyone believes otherwise, I have no interest in defending Imus. I also have zero interest in turning people who commit egregious errors into demons or pariahs.)

I'm Full of Soup said...

Re Imus and cost per campers.

It hit my curiosity bone so I googled Imus Ranch and found a "puff piece" on that said they have ten kids a week maximum.

Next I looked at a tax return for 2001 or 2000 on that indicated the charity had $2.4 Million in program expenses and mgt fees in one year. So do the math : 10 campers per weekx 50 weeks = 500 campers at a cost of $2.4MM. That is almost $5,000 per camper. So one could say the cost per camper is verh high.

Took me ten minutes to google this on the internets and that does not mean it is accurate or correct or contains the full picture. But it leads to questions IMHO.

hdhouse said...

AJL....then you truly are a clueless idiot. Administrative is for salaries - like the doctors and nurses who are there, the full time upkeep of the ranch. IMUS TAKES NO MONEY. He pays his OWN WAT. HE PAYS FOR HIS PLANE RIDES OUT. HE TAKES KIDS as part of transportation charity programs.

The kids pay for nothing. Nada. ZIP. He has personally endowed the ranch to self sufficiency. He has a food product line and turns all the profit over to the ranch and other charities.

The IRS looked at it years back and gave it a clean bill of health. Eliot Spitzer investigated and gave it a clean bill of health and even said so publically.

Why do you ballless freaks insist on this kinda crap? Is this how you live your lives? You see something you don't understand, that you can't even do basic research on, that can't fathom because it is good, and generous and doesn't involve whoring to get ever damn drop of money out of it for personal gain...its like someone doing a good deed and you can't take it.

I've read that gen-x tightasses are like this yet i didn't believe it. Now you come up with this weak shit and try and pawn it off as both fact and evil.

Go f yourself. I'm so tired of your ilk.

Fen said...

hdhouse: Why do you ballless freaks insist on this kinda crap? Is this how you live your lives? You see something you don't understand, that you can't even do basic research on -

Exactly how I feel re your moonbat comments re the war in Iraq. Perhaps now you can understand my contempt for you.

AJ: Took me ten minutes to google this on the internets and that does not mean it is accurate or correct or contains the full picture. But it leads to questions IMHO.

Agreed. And since Imus is opening that door the jury, its a relevant path for court to follow. And its interesting how hd froths over such a question.

Fen said...

"when somebody creates a charity and solicits tax-deductible contributions, it becomes the public’s business because the public is subsidizing the venture. Tax-exemption and the ability to solicit tax-deductible contributions are very valuable benefits conferred on charities, as are potential property tax exemptions. In exchange for those benefits, Federal law and many state laws require disclosure."


"...Where we take issue with the Wall Street Journal article is its exclusive focus on Mr. Imus. The story would have been much more meaningful had it examined the efficiency of celebrity-based charities in general rather than focusing on just one. Say what you want about our celebrity-driven culture, celebrities can and do raise money, lots of money. The trouble is that some of them also think they know how to design and administer social service programs.

The logical question in Mr. Imus's case: Who would pay for such inefficiency? The Wall Street Journal article suggests a lot of people and corporations, including one former titan of Wall Street--who we might add was the head of a company that devotes considerable time and resources to evaluating the efficiency of other companies for purposes of allocating capital. Not with our money. We would not give a nickel to Mr. Imus to finance the level of inefficiency that his efforts have spawned. That is to say, we would not be blinded by his celebrity."

Victor said...

Sounds boring actually, and will probably settle within 6 mos.

In reality, depending on the jury I bet it could be a terrible case for Imus. He's made racialist comments in the past supposedly (and this portion of discovery would be fun for CBS). The jury is not likely to be sympathetic. As between the two, CBS comes out looking like a rose.

But boring all the way around.

I'm Full of Soup said...

You are the one with blinders on. I simply relayed info available to everyone on the internet.

Does it cost $2.5MM to staff a facility/ camp that has an average of ten patients a day who are not bedridden??

You say it covers the ebtire cost of the camp- that is the question!!! You frigging - don't ever respond to me the way you did. I can read a financial statement -can you you frigging dweeb creep.