As an actual listener to Don Imus, I must object to those who condemn him without any experience of him or his program.

He was a satirist, and decidedly not a bag of hot air. He had intense reactions to the leading pols of the day, read extensively, and was exceedingly charismatic, in a dour and flinty sort of way, giving of himself and his means to an extraordinary extent. If you never heard his rather unsunny but hilarious show, a show full of brilliant satire, parody and comedy (and amazingly candid interviews) done by the very best parodists and comics in the business, bar none, you have no idea what you missed.

Beyond that, he gave unstintingly to the many causes he espoused: He built and financed, and personally attended and worked on, his amazing ranch in the southwest for children with cancer. Among these children were many of color, from inner city and other provenances. He and his wife Dierdre created the ranch out of nothing, and now it is a flourishing place where those with dire diagnoses at a tender age can learn to feel whole again, learn to be cowboys, ride and rope and care for animals, laugh and love and eat and enjoy, far from the depressing circumstances that often made them helpless and despairing homebounds.

He inveighed at the ramshackle medical care oftimes afforded our stupendous soldiers, once gone from the theatre of action in the Mideast. He got a great deal of necessary attention, and potfuls of money, for the upgrading of Walter Reed. He took on the sad increase of autism in this country, now, one child in every 163 born, a calamitous upsurge no one quite understands, "but something," as Willy (and Linda) Loman said, "needs to be done." He was a massive supporter of the "green enviro change" in hospitals and homes — products that he and his wife produced that eliminated the abrasive and toxic results of commercial "cleansers," often causing the very ills in hospital that they are designed to quell. The Imuses spearheaded a changeover from damaging harsh products to clean and safe products.

He raised millions and millions for his charities, and gave multi-millions on his own. He talked about the economy, inflation, wars in the world, environmental concerns, media, bozo pols, celebrities we all love to dislike (I did agree occasionally with him on his summary capsules of weasels and boneheads emphatically meriting negative reviews), responsibility of the government, and all manner of hot-button issues treated at length, unlike the morning shows that win the plaudits. I was a writer, in the past, for Good Morning America, so I know whereof I speak.) Imus was a must-see, at least for news junkies exhausted by the sameness and regurgitation of the all-news channels that suck off each other rather than present workmanlike news.

His querulousness was a comforting aspect of the show: No fake bonhomie for him or his guys. It was warts and all, but it was splendid, even diverging greatly from my pet betes. And he was not particularly kind to Jews, mind you. So I speak for freedom of speech, and the partisanship for excellence of the media.

So if we look at the defamers and the charlatans who called for his ouster because of a few uncharitable and off-color remarks — I do not share his philosophy, by the way, important to know, so he is not singing my tune in his disparaging remarks, funny, miss-the-mark or otherwise — the one who gave real help, hope and improved care to perhaps myriads, if not more, was Imus. Not the charlatans and huckster exploiters and extortionists who are well known for the vicious harm they have caused over the years.


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