This morning, NBC News President Steve Capus appeared on the Today show to discuss the immediate ending of radio shock jock Don Imus's MSNBC simulcast. Per TVNewser, Capus said:
There's no question that his program has had provocative conversation and interesting conversation, deep conversation with thought leaders and political leaders through the years. But it's also had the other element. At some point you have to say 'enough is enough.' This went so far over the line that it was time.
Capus also mentioned the most vocal critics he heard from were from NBC itself and said "why have an integrity policy unless you're going to enforce it?" The NBC News chief has denied that the reason for the firing was because advertisers were fleeing, which we sort of buy - given that the show made $50 million in revenue, you could probably find some less prestigious advertisers to fill the ad time. FishbowlDC has been liveblogging Imus's radio show this morning, and Imus talks about hyprocrisy, MSNBC being unethical, and a lack of support from Harold Ford Jr.
On the media circuit: The Reverend Al Sharpton also appeared on the Today show to discuss the firing. Last night, he and Reverend Jesse Jackson gave a press conference at Rockefeller Center outside the NBC offices last night, and Jackson appeared on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program. (Olbermann made it clear that his bosses told him not to comment until NBC made a decision, and he emphasized how he thought Imus's remarks were out of line.)
And yesterday, before the firing, Al Roker, whose blog entry asking that Imus be fired received a lot of attention, interviewed Whoopi Goldberg and Spike Lee, who quipped that Imus should get the film right (Imus mistakenly referred to Do the Right Thing, not School Daze, when saying "jigaboos"). Goldberg said that culture made hatred and put-downs more mainstream while Lee emphasized Imus had to go. Lee also applauded the advertisers who dropped out from Imus's show, saying he would buy $100 at Home Depot, buy Bigelow Tea, and Proctor & Gamble products.
In the expected ironic twist, Imus's ratings are very high after this incident. The NY Times spoke to Bo Dietl, "security expert who is a frequent guest on Mr. Imus’s show," who said that Imus was “very down, very upset about what occurred with MSNBC.” CBS says they will keep Imus's show, but one CBS board member, Bruce Gordon who is also former president of the NAACP, has asked that Imus be fired. If Imus is fired from CBS's WFAN, rumors are the Mike and the Mad Dog would move to the Imus slot.
Top photograph of the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton at a Rockefeller Center press conference discussing Imus's firing last night by Amit Gupta on Flickr; lower photograph of Al Roker, Spike Lee and Whoopi Goldberg by Richard Drew/AP