Racial Slur Gets Imus 2-Week Suspension
Tuesday, April 10, 2007; 1:50 AM
NEW YORK -- Don Imus' morning talk show will be suspended from CBS Radio and MSNBC for two weeks following protests about his reference to members of the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," both networks said Monday.
MSNBC, which telecasts the radio show, said Imus' expressions of regret and embarrassment, coupled with his stated dedication to changing the show's discourse, made it believe suspension was the appropriate response.
"Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word," the network said.
The suspension begins next Monday.
Imus, who has made a career of cranky insults in the morning, was fighting for his job following the joke that by his own admission went "way too far." He continued to apologize Monday, both on his show and on a syndicated radio program hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is among several black leaders demanding his ouster.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that Imus' suspensions would not halt the protests.
"This is a two-week cooling off period," Jackson said. "It does not challenge the character of the show, its political impact, or the impact that these comments have had on our society."
Imus could be in real danger if the outcry causes advertisers to shy away from him, said Tom Taylor, editor of the trade publication Inside Radio. The National Organization for Women is also seeking Imus' ouster.
Imus isn't the most popular radio talk-show host _ the trade publication Talkers ranks him the 14th most influential _ but his audience is heavy on the political and media elite that advertisers pay a premium to reach. Authors, journalists and politicians are frequent guests _ and targets for insults.
He has urged critics to recognize that his show is a comedy that spreads insults broadly. Imus or his cast have called Colin Powell a "weasel," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson a "fat sissy" and referred to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, an American Indian, as "the guy from `F Troop.'" He and his colleagues also called the New York Knicks a group of "chest-thumping pimps."
On Sharpton's program Monday, Imus said that "our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far. And this time we went way too far."
Imus made his remark the day after the Rutgers team, which includes eight black women, lost the NCAA women's championship game to Tennessee. He was speaking with producer Bernard McGuirk and said "that's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos ..."