Don Imus Is Punished With Two Weeks of Radio Silence

Don Imus and Al Sharpton on the air yesterday, as Imus visited Sharpton to make amends for racial slurs last week on
Don Imus and Al Sharpton on the air yesterday, as Imus visited Sharpton to make amends for racial slurs last week on "Imus in the Morning." (By Richard Drew -- Associated Press)
By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

MSNBC and CBS Radio have suspended shock jock Don Imus's morning show for two weeks, starting April 16, over slurs he and his executive producer made on-air about the Rutgers University women's basketball team last Wednesday.

"This comes after careful consideration in the days since his racist, abhorrent comments were made," MSNBC said late yesterday in a statement. CBS Radio, which syndicates "Imus in the Morning," was far more brief, saying the suspension was "due to the events of the past week."

Late yesterday, David Gregory, filling in for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball," reported that NBC News President Steve Capus made the decision -- which is sure not to satisfy public figures who have been calling for Imus to be sacked.

Among them are the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who yesterday told Gregory that the punishment should "correspond with the infraction" and that the steps taken, or not, by MSNBC and CBS Radio say a lot about the "character and expectations of the networks that are his foundation."

MSNBC's statement said: "Don Imus has expressed profound regret and embarrassment and has made a commitment to listen to all of those who have raised legitimate expressions of outrage."

The cable news network, owned by NBC Universal, put Imus on notice, saying its future relationship with him is "contingent on his ability to live up to his word."

The suspension is delayed until Monday so that on Thursday and Friday, CBS Radio and MSNBC can air the previously scheduled Imus radiothon in support of the Tomorrow's Children's Fund, the CJ Foundation for SIDS, and the Imus Ranch, both companies explained.

Following in the footsteps of celebrity slur-spewers such as Michael Richards and Isaiah Washington, Imus yesterday began his Walk of Shame.

Yesterday's activities included issuing his longest "apology" to date on his radio show while (you saw this one coming) chatting up the number of minority kids who come to his camp for cancer patients in New Mexico. Imus also appeared on the Rev. Al Sharpton's syndicated radio show to say how sorry he was for "making fun of" the female athletes.

But Imus fell out of Mea Culpa Mode and became extremely offended when one of Sharpton's guests called him a guy who'd done radio spots for used-car dealerships early in his career. Yes, in Imus World, that's a no-brainer outrageous affront. Calling young African American women "nappy-headed" prostitutes took him a couple of days to figure out. Imus's handlers may want to work on that as he continues his Road to Rehabilitation, which is shaping up to be a weeks-long extravaganza.

"I was trying to be fun," Imus said on his show yesterday, explaining that the problem is the members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "don't know what this program is about."

"Because I call my wife 'the green ho,' does that mean I can call -- of course not. I mean that's a repugnant suggestion . . . that I think because we make fun of everybody or because I get made fun of that it's okay to make fun of them, because it's not okay to make fun of them. But that's what we do and that's the context."

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