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Critics demand Imus be fired for Rutgers remark

Posted by vmsalama on April 9, 2007

Radio bad boy Don Imus’ apology Friday for calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy-headed hos” has not satisfied angry critics, from black journalists to the NAACP, who want him fired.

He’s also in hot water with MSNBC, which simulcasts his popular talk show, and syndicator CBS Radio. As reaction to his comments played out over the weekend, both outlets said they were reviewing the incident.

The furor over his remarks comes as the popularity of MSNBC’s simulcast of Imus in the Morning has surged 35% in the past year. It was a factor in rival CNN’s decision to switch anchors on its competing American Morning.

It’s unclear how Imus’ comments will affect his popularity or tenure. But MSNBC sought to distance itself from his “offensive” remarks, noting, “As Imus makes clear every day, his views are not those of MSNBC.” Parent company NBC called them “deplorable.” CBS said that though a “sincere apology was called for,” it will “monitor the program’s comments going forward.”

Imus’ trademark is take-no-prisoners humor, and fans say part of his appeal is that he is an equal-opportunity offender. But blacks say he has been particularly insensitive, comparing former NBC News correspondent Gwen Ifill to a “cleaning woman” and referring to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as “that colored fellow.”

Now, “what he said has deeply hurt too many people, black and white, male and female,” says Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “His so-called apology comes two days after the fact, and it is too little, too late.”

In a joint statement, NCAA president Myles Brand and Rutgers president Richard McCormick said, “It is unconscionable that anyone would use the airways to utter such disregard for the dignity of human beings who have accomplished much and deserve great credit.”

Imus, 66, is a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame. His program, which showcases his politically incorrect and biting comments, is syndicated to more than 70 stations. Imus also draws regular high-profile guests from the political, media and literary worlds.

The comments were made Wednesday as Imus was speaking with producer Bernard McGuirk about the NCAA women’s title game between Rutgers and Tennessee. McGuirk referred to the largely black Rutgers players as “some hardcore hos.” “That’s some nappy-headed hos there, I’m going to tell you that,” Imus said.

Monroe said Imus and McGuirk should be fired this morning unless they issue a more thorough apology. “As journalists, we firmly believe in the First Amendment and free speech, but free speech comes with responsibility, and sometimes with consequences. His removal must be that consequence.”

The Detroit branch of NAACP also called for Imus’ removal. And the Rev. Al Sharpton told the Associated Press Saturday, “I accept his apology, just as I want his bosses to accept his resignation.”

In his apology Friday, Imus said he wanted to “apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team. It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry.”


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