Quick Take: Everybody Hates Imus

Now they do, anyway. After all, Imus said some really nasty things, and no one could have seen that coming, eh?

What's interesting to me as a student of stocks is how all these Imus advertisers are just now crawling out of the woodwork to voice their shock. According to The Wall Street Journal, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) and Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS  ) have yanked their ads. Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK-A  ) Netjets is among those reportedly staying put for now. This is front-page news in the business world, somehow.

But the real meat of the story is the knee-jerk hypocrisy of these advertisers, whose collective outcry can be summed up as: "Oh my God, I can't believe Imus said that!"

Have they ever listened to his show? This is what he does. It's what he's done forever. They've been paying him for years to spout misogynistic, racist, offensive garbage, because they know people listen to it.

If these advertisers were really interested in taking a moral or political stand, they'd have taken it a long time ago. They never would have advertised with him in the first place. What they're doing now is called "damage control." They're afraid of getting caught supporting what they've been supporting, now that it might hurt their reputations and their bottom lines.

Alas, that is business. Luckily, for investors watching their companies scramble to pretend they have a conscience, it probably won't matter which way the floppers flip. Consumers have the memory of a goldfish. And Imus' audience might seem big by old-fashioned radio standards, but it's estimated at 2.25 million. (That's a mere half the tally of Judge Judy, FYI.)

If corporations can make money for shareholders by advertising alongside Imus' trash, they should continue. If they can find better bang for the buck -- and I'd be very surprised if they could not -- hating on Imus might be the smart move.

Comments? Bring them here.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had positions in no company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Berkshire Hathaway is aMotley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Fool rules are here.

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