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With Imus ousted, will other shows clean up their acts?

Don Imus's firing could cause radio and cable talkers to be more careful in some of their characterizations, say analysts.

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Click on talk radio or cable news. Do you expect the chatter to be any less crass now that CBS Radio gave Don Imus the boot for his racist, sexist comment about the Rutgers' women's basketball team?

Some media analysts are hopeful. They say Mr. Imus's firing signals a new awareness on the part of network executives – that while mean-spirited banter might bring in the ratings and advertising bucks, it's ultimately bad for the nation.

CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves indicated as much when he said that what "weighed most heavily" on his mind in making the decision about Imus was the effect that "language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color."

But other analysts aren't quite so sanguine. They say that if Imus's advertisers hadn't flown the coop with their cash, he would still be at his morning perch. And they're quick to cite a long list of other equally offensive talkers who are still on the air. People like CNN's Glenn Beck, who recently called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) a "stereotypical b*@!%" or Cox Radio's Neal Boortz, who referred to the Muslim prophet Muhammad as "just a phony ragpicker." And Rush Limbaugh once mused: "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

Still, most media analysts believe that at least in the short term, Imus's ouster will cause the nation's radio and cable talkers to be a bit more careful in some of their characterizations of fellow human beings.

"I don't think this is simply a speed bump that everyone will forget about in two weeks," says Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington. "Yet, it's very hard to know if a year down the line this will change the nature or culture of talk radio."


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