Media

Gwen Ifill Calls Out Russert, Brooks For Their Silence On Imus

This morning on NBC’s Meet the Press, PBS anchor Gwen Ifill directly called out host Tim Russert and fellow guest David Brooks for failing to speak out against Don Imus’ offensive remarks.

“There has been radio silence from a lot of people who have done this program who could have spoken up and said, I find this offensive or I didn’t know,” Ifill said. “These people didn’t speak up.” She then turned Russert and Brooks, frequest guests on Imus’s show. “Tim, we didn’t hear from you. David, we didn’t hear from you.”

Ifill added, “A lot of people did know and a lot of people were listening and they just decided it was okay. They decided this culture of meanness was fine — until they got caught. My concern about Mr. Imus and a lot of people and a lot of the debate in this society is not that people are sorry that they say these things, they are sorry that someone catches them.”

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/04/ifill415.320.240.flv]

Despite being called out by Ifill, Russert said little during the show about his frequent appearances on Imus’ show. Intead, he suggested that Imus will launch a new show dedicated to “racial reconciliation and healing,” which Russert said he would “absolutely” listen to.

Transcript:

And yet, you write this: “Why do my journalistic colleagues appear on Mr. Imus’ show? That’s for them to defend and others to argue about. I certainly don’t know any black journalists who will.”

Yow know, it’s interesting to me. This has been an interesting week. The people who have spoken, the people who issued statements and the people who haven’t. There has been radio silence from a lot of people who have done this program who could have spoken up and said, I find this offensive or I didn’t know. These people didn’t speak up. Tim, we didn’t hear from you. David, we didn’t hear from you. What was missing in this debate was someone saying, you know, I understand that this is offensive. You know, I have a 7-year-old god daughter. Yesterday she went out shopping with her mom for high-Thetop basketball shoes so she can play basketball. The offense, the slur that Imus directed at me happened more than 10 years ago. I would like to think that 10 years from now, that Asia isn’t going to be deciding that she wants to get recruited for the college basketball team or be a tennis pro or go to medical school and that she is still vulnerable to those kinds of casual slurs and insults that I got 10 years ago, and that people will say, I didn’t know, or people will say, I wasn’t listening. A lot of people did know and a lot of people were listening and they just decided it was okay. They decided this culture of meanness was fine — until they got caught. My concern about Mr. Imus and a lot of people and a lot of the debate in this society is not that people are sorry that they say these things, they are sorry that someone catches them. When Don Imus said this about me when I worked here at NBC, when I found out about it, his producer called because Don said he wants to apologize. Well, now he says he never said it. What was he apologizing for? He was apologizing for getting caught, not apologizing for having said it in the first place. And that to me is the debate we need to have, David is right, about the culture of meanness, about the culture of racial complaint, about the internal culture within our community about how we talk to one another. But just this week it was finally saying, enough.