The Washington Post’s Sridhar Pappu writes about Don Imus’ guests…
But, for Imus regulars, their appearances often have nothing to do with plugging anything. As CBS’s Jeff Greenfield said on yesterday’s show, “Imus in the Morning” has become a “salon where people talk about events in a way that they don’t talk about it in most other places.”
Imus urges them to digress, take shots (a running gag when he’s grilling a just-the-facts reporter — say, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “Wouldn’t you agree, Andrea, that Dick Cheney is a war criminal?”) and bring out aspects of their personal lives. It was on “Imus” that Schieffer, the venerable chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and host of “Face the Nation,” disclosed his bout with cancer.
So, too, did Newsweek’s Alter in 2004. During one appearance, Imus accused Alter of being in a bad mood, going so far as to ask whether Alter’s wife was beating him up. He sounded bad, Imus said. Yes, said Alter, he did feel bad — because of chemotherapy. Alter would go on to talk about his lymphoma on the show several times afterward.
“There is a clubbiness to it,” said Alter, who said Imus’s recent comments were “racist” and “despicable.” “It’s a strange hybrid of serious, in-depth coverage with locker room banter. Fortunately I have never been on the air when that banter went over the line.”
Still, Alter said, Imus will “do things like compare my wife to [attempted assassin of Gerald Ford] Squeaky Fromme, which I don’t necessarily appreciate, but it’s part of the usual tone in the show.”