Imus Apologizes, Takes Suspension

Apr 10, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Shock jock Don Imus said he’s going to take his two-week suspension with as much dignity as he can muster and without “whining.” His comments came during a sometimes testy crossover appearance between his CBS Radio show, simulcast on MSNBC, and NBC’s “Today” show.

Mr. Imus learned Monday that CBS Radio and MSNBC will suspend his show for two weeks beginning April 16 in response to the furor over racially derogatory comments made about the Rutgers women’s basketball team on the nationally syndicated “Imus in the Morning” last week.

Black activist Al Sharpton, who also appeared on “Today,” still insists the suspension amounts to a slap on the wrist and that Mr. Imus should be fired. He is not alone.

But some of the powerful politicians who have been frequent guests on “Imus in the Morning”-including presidential contenders Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee-said they will continue to appear on the show.

Democratic political consultant James Carville, who appeared on “Today” Tuesday, also said that while Imus had made a serious mistake, he could count on Mr. Carville to continue to appear on the show.

Mr. Imus, a shock jock with one foot in astute political discussion and the other in “comedy,” has long drawn protests for being offensive to blacks, gays and women. He was in full apology mode Monday on his own show and on Mr. Sharpton’s radio show, where Mr. Imus raised some eyebrows again by referring to those aligned with Mr. Sharpton as “you people.”

The Rutgers team held a press conference Tuesday morning, where one of the players said Mr. Imus’ comments were “degrading” because they stripped the joy out of making Rutgers history by making the national finals.

“Not only has Mr. Imus stolen a moment of pure grace from us, but he has brought us to the harsh reality that, behind the faces of the networks that have worked so hard to convey a message of empowerment to young adults, that somehow, some way, the door has been left open to attack your leaders of tomorrow,” Rutgers team captain Essence Carson said.

Ms. Carson said the team had agreed to meet privately with Mr. Imus and “express our great hurt.”

In Monday’s statement announcing the suspension, NBC News said Mr. Imus has promised to clean up his radio act. “Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word,” it added.

During the hot topics on ABC’s The View” Tuesday, only conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck said a two-week suspension was not a severe enough penalty for Mr. Imus’ offenses. The quick-to-outrage Rosie O’Donnell said she doesn’t listen to Mr. Imus and-seemingly unaware of his history of dicey comedy bits-said she doesn’t think a long career should be destroyed by “four words.”

NBC’s popular “Today” weatherman and correspondent Al Roker, however, posted to a network blog calling for Mr. Imus to be fired.

“The dialogue that has begun as a result of this terrible incident is felt in the heart and souls of NBC employees,” NBC News President Steve Capus wrote in an internal memo. “This internal dialogue is healthy for our organization.”

CBS Radio did not criticize Mr. Imus’ comments when it announced the suspension.

Both MSNBC and CBS Radio agreed to broadcast the previously scheduled Imus radiothon in support of the Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, the CJ Foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Research and the Imus Ranch; it will be telecast on MSNBC, as scheduled, on Thursday and Friday.

The 6-9 p.m. weekday timeslot on MSNBC will be filled with live news produced by the cable channel.

(Editor: Horowitz)