My Three Cents
Ken MakovskyFriday, February 23, 2018
ONE BASIC LESSON IN SUSTAINING A GOOD REPUTATION —- Several weeks ago, I was listening to the “Imus in the Morning” Show on my way to the train station. The show is currently on WABC and is presided over by the legendary Don Imus who is now
Beyond this announcement, he was annoyed. Why? The newspaper accounts of his planned departure were negatively rather than positively slanted. He simply could not understand it… because of the glorious things he has done in his career. Many years ago and most significantly, Imus
But there is another side to this story. About nine years ago when the “Imus in the Morning” Show was covered by both CBS RADIO and MSNBC, Imus was abruptly asked off the air — actually suspended for two weeks–because of extremely derogatory racial comments he made about Rutgers’ female basketball team in New Jersey. NBC said it would not tolerate such “insensitive remarks.” Black leaders expressed outrage at what he said. He staved off calls for his resignation by appearing on a show hosted by the Reverend Al Sharpton where he apologized for what he said, calling his comments “repugnant, repulsive and horrible”. He also reached out to the coach and the players and their parents and issued an apology. Many in the publishing industry and certain celebrities and leading politicians felt that Imus had become very important to their careers and were against his losing his job. He didn’t. He was hired by WABC in New York and quickly reestablished “Imus in the Morning.” Smart public relations moves saved him as did strong relationships and a career that made money for many people. His skillful interviewing abilities uncovered information we otherwise would not have known, providing educational advantage.
But in skimming the recent news clips after he made his retirement announcement, none mentioned Imus’ wonderful contributions described above but did mention his firing in 2007 and what he said about the African American women on the Rutgers team. Indeed, one can understand why Imus was upset. One headline noted that “the party’s over: notorious shock jock …to retire.” And went on to recount the bad stuff. We are not suggesting that Imus was an angel or that he did not challenge where others might not have. But notorious? No. Controversial? Absolutely. He was rightly punished for his Rutgers comments. This man has been at it for 50 years, and he should’ve known better. Nevertheless, his good stuff deserves mention in something as significant as this development.
And so that leads us to one basic lesson that we all need to learn and remember as we are about to jump off the cliff. Warren Buffet said it: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” This one took less than a minute. And it will always linger.