Tuesday, August 14, 2007

All Aboard The I-Man Train

What a ride for those following the Imus fiasco.

Today, it was announced that Imus and CBS settled for $20 million and currently was involved in talks with WABC, about a possible comeback. Then in an instant, poof, Reuters reports that WABC said it isn't so. So much for that. Then, after the big monetary settlement is announced, another plot twist emerges in this sad saga. ABC is reporting that the first lawsuit from a Rutgers player, has been filed.

Not that I care much about Imus, I told the world what I thought after the story broke; and after a careful review of that piece, I cannot find where I was the first bit understanding of his remarks. In fact, I pretty much told what I thought of the whole "shock jock" talk genre:

You see, Don Imus, Howard Stern, and many others like them, are seasoned old pros at making inappropriate and (downright) offensive comments. It's how they got rich. They are considered the "fathers of the shock jock era", they hold a place in the "who's who of cheap ratings whores". They made their fame and fortune by pushing the boundaries and the people rewarded them with high ratings and fat paychecks, basically for being horses' asses for 3-4 hours a day.

Be that as it may, I cannot help but laugh about the timing of the announcement of the lawsuit. It's certainly one of those "things that make you go hmmm" moments (to say the least).

Normally, one would have to prove that a person's remarks caused actual damages, before there would be a decent lawyer willing to take a case. Psychological damage is the only damage that could have occurred, in this case. I think she walks and talks fine, and has full use of all her extremities. So, physical damage can safely be ruled out.

But I think most attorneys would say that proving psychological damage is much harder to prove, on the whole, than physical. You'd need a judge that would be sympathetic to the plaintiff, so as to make sure the rulings that the plaintiff's attorney moves for, are delivered in the "alleged" victim's favor. You'd need a reputable psychiatrist to explain to and convince a jury that the victim couldn't function, because of the words used to disparage the victim. He'd need to have the ability to counter any court appointed shrink and need to be able to stand up the ruthless scrutiny that the defense would surely put him/her under. So, to put it bluntly, this is a tall order (albeit not impossible).

But given the high-profile nature of this case, I would bet heavily that old Don shells out a goodly amount, to all that put their name on the list. The question in all of this will be, what will be fair? Multiple suits would eat that $20 million up fast, so it might be in his best interests to consider settling before his legal bills start to soar.

Wow. What a ride. First stop was castigation, then termination. After that, it was vindication and now, it's litigation. Next up: Obligation.

All Aboard!!!

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