CBS Terminates Long-Time Radio Host Over Racially Charged Comments
April 12, 2007
Following outcry from public officials, civil rights leaders and advertisers, CBS fired Don Imus from his radio show Thursday afternoon, in a final blow for the broadcaster who called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" last week.
"There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society," CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. "That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision."
Imus, 66, has repeatedly apologized for his remarks and reportedly met with the Rutgers women's team Thursday night.
Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton met with CBS executives earlier in the day to demand they pull the plug on Imus because of the controversial comments.
It's not clear if the meeting is what pushed the network to terminate Imus' show. The shock jock's show was syndicated nationally on Westwood One, which is owned by CBS.
"We will not stop until we make it clear that no one can denigrate based on sex," said Sharpton, after the CBS announcement. "We need to open up the media world. There are far too many media companies where there are far too much exclusion of women and people of color... We don't have to be misogynist and racists to be creative in this country."
Sharpton said he was planning a rally for Saturday, adding that he would sooner go to jail than back down from an issue he felt passionately about.
"We are going to be looking around the television and music industry; there is no one that gets a pass here," Sharpton continued. "Women should be respected, blacks should be respected, and whites need to be respected."
NY1 spoke with some people in Midtown about their reaction to his ousting.
“I'm not a big shock jock fan,” said one New Yorker. “I think it was justified.”
“When you are in that business, I guess it’s deserved. You’ve got to watch what you say on the radio,” concurred another local resident. “The Rutgers team did well this year. They didn't deserve to be called that.”
“I was wondering what if he was a black radio personality would this be the same kind of affect that it was having?” I don't think so, if he was black,” countered another. “No I don't think he should have been fired.”
“I think it's a shame,” said a fourth New Yorker. “They’re making an issue out of nothing. Yes he was wrong. No doubt about it. But, there are a lot of other depressing issues, whether it was black or white, red, green, blue. What happened to him shouldn’t have happened. He apologized. Suspend him, do whatever. But, to blow a 40 year career, that’s a shame.”
Former President Bill Clinton also weighed in on the controversy at a Manhattan church Thursday, saying our popular culture always wants to find someone to look down on and that Imus must an unhappy man to be disparaging others the way he did.
"And while I deplore what Mr. Imus said, it was racist and it was sexist, what was really sad is, and you can see it in the pictures, I thought this must be one unhappy fella to have to talk about somebody else like that,” said Clinton.
Imus initially was suspended for two weeks for the comments, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his programs.
Nonetheless, the shock jock, who admitted his comments were "really stupid," held his 18th annual charity radiothon Thursday morning, raising as much as $1 million, even though NBC stopped simulcasting his show on MSNBC.
On the show, Imus said he understood MSNBC's decision, but he added the network was doing some unethical things during the broadcast. He would not elaborate.
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