DWEEBS AND BAD BOYS.

DWEEBS AND BAD BOYS. Reader Howard, commenting on my last post, called my attention to a wonderful piece by Sam Tanenhaus that ran in yesterday�s New York Times. In an essay in the Week in Review, Tanenhaus, now the editor of the New York Times Book Review, recounts his own seduction into Imusland, a phenomenon that occurred after Imus took an on-air shine to Tanenhaus�s biography of Whitaker Chambers, and began having Tanenhaus as a regular guest.

By now, I was tuning in regularly. It had become part of my routine: waking up each morning to WFAN and the frisson of hearing my name broadcast on the radio. Of course, I was hearing other things, too, and they were disturbing at times: slurs against black athletes, an �impersonation� of Clarence Thomas that didn�t sound like him at all (unlike the impersonations of white figures), but instead drew on the stalest of the �here come de judge� grotesqueries of a previous era; the almost continual soundtrack of leering sexual comments.

Today, in the harsh light of Mr. Imus�s disgrace, it is hard to explain why none of this bothered me very much. But the truth is I tuned it out. One reason, I think, is that my position seemed paradoxical. I was pleased to have been admitted into Mr. Imus�s club -- alongside famous columnists and TV pundits and celebrated authors.

Brother Paul Waldman, in an off-line exchange, pointed out to me the half of David Brooks�s interview with NPR�s David Folkenflick that I did not include in my last post:

"You know, most of us who are pundits are dweebs at some level. And [Imus] was the cool bad boy in the back of room," Brooks said. "And so, if you're mostly doing serious punditry, you'd like to think you can horse around with a guy like Imus."

Says Bro Paul:�This whole town runs on people trying to work out the issues they've been harboring since high school.� (Say, did I ever tell you about the time the boys wouldn�t let me on the debating team?)

--Adele M. Stan

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