The Corner

PC Culture

WFB and Imus

National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr.

Don Imus, who died the other day, pioneered the free-form bad-taste drive-time morning-radio format and spawned a thousand imitators. One would not expect William F. Buckley to have been a fan, and indeed, as this column shows, he wasn’t. When he wrote it, after Imus’s infamous comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team in 2007, Buckley had less than a year to live, and one might have expected his thoughts to be centered more on Dominus than Don Imus. Instead, Buckley recalled Imus’s earlier monologue at the 1996 White House correspondents’ dinner, which was also quite badly received. President Clinton bore the brunt of that barrage, though WFB also remembered an anti–Rush Limbaugh crack that “brought laughter. But anything — anything — will bring laughter to a crowd far gone in booze and impiety.”  In the wake of Imus’s later comeuppance, he concluded, “there are reserves of decency in the land that sometimes assert themselves.” “Decency” is a lowish bar, but if WFB were still writing today, he would find the reserves of it running mighty low.

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