Radio shock jock Don Imus was suspended for two weeks by CBS, which owns WFAN and Westwood One (the radio outlets his show is broadcast and syndicated on) and MSNBC, which broadcasts a televised simulcast of the radio show, over remarks he made towards the Rutgers women's basketball team. MSNBC announced that Imus would be suspended first, then CBS announced a similar suspension.
The suspension will begin on Monday, as Imus has a series of fund-raisers for sudden infant death syndrome at the end of the week. This morning, he said his suspension was "appropriate" and he told Matt Lauer on the Today Show, "'[the phrase "nappy-headed hos] phrase originated in the black community. ... I may be a white man, but I know that these young women and young black women all through that society are demeaned and degraded by their own black men and that they are called that name.'' And while Imus has made it clear he'd like to speak to the Rutgers women's basketball players himself, it's unclear whether they'll meet. The team will be giving a press conference this morning at 11AM.
Yesterday, Imus appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton's radio show to discuss the matter, admitting that he did go too far. Sharpton told reporters, "If he came to convince me, he certainly didn't convince me. I think he might have made it worse." How did he make it worse? From AP/AMNY:
The radio host also lost his patience after U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Michigan), the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, called in and criticized him for his on-air comments after the Rutgers team lost the NCAA women's championship game a week ago.
"I can't get anywhere with you people," Imus complained, as everyone in the studio froze at what seemed to be another racial slight.
"What do you mean by 'you people?' " Sharpton shot back.
"You and the woman I'm talking to," Imus explained.
Afterward, Sharpton said these two responses were examples of how the appearance may not have helped Imus' image. "I couldn't believe when he went to 'you people,' " Sharpton said.
You can hear the audio of the show on WNBC.com - you'll note how Imus calls Sharpton "sir."
The Post's Phil Mushnick says that Imus's behavior is nothing new - when WNBC sportscaster Len Berman quit WFAN, Imus called him "Lenny the Jew." Gwen Ifill, who Imus allegedly called a "cleaning lady," has an editorial in the NY Times: "This country will only flourish once we consistently learn to applaud and encourage the young people who have to work harder just to achieve balance on the unequal playing field." Ethicist Randy Cohen tells WCBS 2/AP that Imus should be fired
And longtime Imus hater Howard Stern told his listeners yesterday that back in the WNBC days (dubba-yuh- enn- bee-cee!) he heard Imus call a black woman the n-word. According to MarksFriggin.com, the Howard Stern rundown blog, Stern said Imus's remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team "actually nothing compared to what he said behind the scenes at WNBC when they were there." Stern said Imus should have been fired back in the day.
What do you think of the suspension? Is it an appropriate sentence, or should he have been fired? NOW is asking join its campaign to get Imus fired and here's the National Association of Black Journalist's list of Imus's racist remarks.
Rutgers is having a press conference on the Imus issue.
Some notes so far:
Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy: The comments by Imus and his producer were despicable and the real story here is the 2006-07 Women's Basketball team. The team is the antithesis of Imus' comments and the comments were reprehensible and disgusting.
Rutgers President Richard McCormick: Imus' words were hurtful to all of the Rutgers community as they were celebrating their basketball team and their season and they did nothing to invite the comments by Imus. As a community, they are supporting players as a community and the university has "their backs."
Coach C. Vivian Stringer: The players involved in this are valedictorians, future doctors, even girl scouts and Rutgers is fortunate to have them. This isn't a story about what was said, but about the team's perseverance, hard work, and determination. The remarks were deplorable, despicable and unconscionable. These women are not political figures or professionals, but at Rutgers to get an education and to use their gifts.
Heather Zurich, sophomore forward from Montvale: Team started at 2-4, with Coach Stringer calling them her worst defensive team ever. All the teams accomplishments were lost when Imus made his comments. What hurts the most is that he doesn't know any of them personally. They were insulted and angry and they said they did nothing to deserve the "deplorable comments". Instead of celebrating Easter, they were talking about this with their families.
Essence Carson, junior, forward/guard, captain from Patterson The team is angry, disgusted, and deeply saddened at the racial characterization by the Imus remarks. She asks that people don't recognize them in this light, but in the light of their season accomplishments. The team has agreed to a private meeting with Imus in an undisclosed location to convey their deep hurt. This issue is about women across the nation and the world. They aren't attacking Imus, but something that isn't right.
Photographs of Don Imus and Reverand Al Sharpton yesterday by Richard Drew/AP