Monday, April 09, 2007

Don Imus and Racial Stereotypes

MSNBC drops Imus for 2 weeks amid Rutgers flap

NEW YORK -- MSNBC will suspend its television simulcast of radio shock-jock Don Imus' morning talk show for two weeks after the host called members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "a bunch of nappy-headed hos," the network announced Monday.
Despite apologies from Imus on Friday and Monday, the suspension will start April 16, the network said in a written statement.

"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," it said.

"In addition, his dedication -- in his words -- to change the discourse on his program moving forward, has confirmed for us that this action is appropriate. Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word."

Two of the nation's biggest media companies -- CBS Corp. and NBC Universal -- will ultimately decide the fate of Imus' daily program.

After a career of cranky insults, Imus was fighting for his job following one joke that by his own admission went "way too far."

Imus apologized 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.

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.

"Everyone is on tenterhooks waiting to see whether it grows and whether the protest gets picked up more broadly," Taylor said.

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 "sniffling 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."

Imus: We went way too far

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."

The Rutgers comment has struck a chord, in part, because it was aimed at a group of young women at the pinnacle of athletic success. It also came in a different public atmosphere following the Michael Richards and Mel Gibson incidents, said Eric Deggans, columnist for the St. Petersburg Times and chairman of the media monitoring committee of the National Association of Black Journalists, which also wants Imus canned.

"This may be the first time where he's done something like this in the YouTube era," Deggans said. Viewers can quickly see clips of Imus' remarks, not allowing him to redefine their context, he said.

On his show Monday, Imus called himself "a good person" who made a bad mistake.

"Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it," he said. "And because the climate on this program has been what it's been for 30 years doesn't mean that it has to be that way for the next five years or whatever because that has to change, and I understand that."

Imus' radio show originates from WFAN in New York City and is syndicated nationally by Westwood One, both of which are managed by CBS. CBS Radio just replaced chief executive Joel Hollander with Dan Mason. With Imus' radio show reaching an estimated 2.5 million people a week, his future could conceivably be decided by CBS chief Leslie Moonves.

CBS has denounced Imus' remarks and said it will monitor his show for content.

The show is simulcast daily on MSNBC, where it reached an estimated 361,000 viewers in the first three months of the year, up 39 percent from last year.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and about 50 people marched Monday outside Chicago's NBC tower to protest Imus' comments. He said MSNBC should abandon Imus and MSNBC should hire more black pundits.

Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP board of directors, said it is "past time his employers took him off the air."

"As long as an audience is attracted to his bigotry and politicians and pundits tolerate his racism and chauvinism to promote themselves, Don Imus will continue to be a serial apologist for prejudice," Bond said.

Imus was mostly contrite in his appearance with Sharpton, although the activist did not change his opinion that Imus should lose his job. At one point Imus seemed incredulous at Sharpton's suggestion that he might walk away from the incident unscathed.

"Unscathed?" Imus said. "How do you think I'm unscathed by this? Don't you think I'm humiliated?"

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.


Anonymous said...

THIS IS 420ComfortablyNumb

What Don Imus said was without a doubt uncalled for and frankly just not funny. I still do not believe he should lose his job. I think that a two week suspension will suffice and I genuinely believe his apology was sincere. The part of his so called joke that was uncalled for was the referencing to “hos”. This is absolutely unacceptable because he is talking about young women who are representing a university and simply did nothing that would earn them the label hos. I believe if Imus would have left out the hos part of his statement and substituted it with players or women then he would not be in the hot water he is in now. I am not encouraging calling any woman “nappy headed”, but I think it is important to remember that Don Imus is a “shock” radio show host. His entire job is centered on him ruffling feathers with his listeners which will in turn attract more listeners. Imus just crossed the line with his statement and I think he knows that what he said was not funny and hurtful.

rodeo8 said...

I completely agree that Don Imus’ comment was completely uncalled for; no one took it as a joke at all. In one phrase he made probably one of the most racial comments ever, because he didn’t just offend blacks, he also offended women by throwing in the word “ho.” I disagree with 420ComfortablyNumb, in this situation because I believe that Imus would still be in as much trouble even if he had left the word “hos” out and had only used “nappy headed” because it is still racist. However I am not sure that right off the bat that he deserves to lose his job. He has claimed that he has learned his lesson and that he went too far. I think that he deserves the chance to show that his show has really changed and that he will do a better job of thinking about what he is saying before actually doing so. In two weeks if Imus can prove that he realized what he has done was wrong and realizes that he needs to make the changes and can make the changes then he deserves to keep his job, because we all are human which means we all make mistakes.

Lokanda2 said...

Don Imus is a broadcaster, he has a show that is owned by MSNBC, the words he speaks are heard by thousands of people everyday and he knows that. Like the article states this isn’t the first time that Imus has said things that have been over the line but this is the first time he has spoken negative remarks are black women and these black women are college women who are very successful athletically. Now with this being said his comments on what he said are the same as mine. He “went too far” and he knows that and we all know that. However because he went to far this time he has cost his owners a lot of money by advertisers deciding to drop their ads from the show and that takes away a lot of revenue for MSNBC. Imus was fired for this and not for his comments. If the money would have kept flowing in Imus would have kept his job but it didn’t and he lost it. This is right but it is the truth and my favorite saying is the truth hurts. I do have to question the legitimacy of free speech when discussing this article. Imus has the right to say whatever he wants to say but he as much as anybody now knows the repercussions of his words. He can say what he wants no matter what it is but when you say things like “nappy headed ho’s” your going to get fired and that is the bottom line.

mckendree5454 said...

Don Imus and Racial Stereotypes
What Imus said was clearly wrong and unprovoked. The Rutgers girls did nothing to Imus.
They are hard working ladies who are very athletically talented and did not deserve that
name calling. An apology to the Rutgers girls was the right thing to do and I believe
the Rutgers girls showed a lot of class in forgiving Imus. I can not say the same for
the honorable Al Sharpton. First of all I don?t know why ever time a white man says
something racist that he apologizes to Sharpton. Who is Sharpton? Is he the Czar of all
black people? Imus should have just apologized to the Rutgers girls only. The bigger
question is would this have been an issue if Imus would have just called the girls
?Ho?s.? Or If he would have called the Tennessee some hillbilly ho?s. I do not believe
anything would have been said. It is not offending the Rutgers basketball team as ladies
it is a white person being racist against a black person. Nothing would have been said
if it was not a white male saying something racist to a black person. I have to go to
William Bennett?s idea of a colorblind society. I do not believe we can get rid of
racism until we see ourselves as a colorblind society. If we keep seeing censorship like
this on TV then eventually no person will be allowed to say anything on, and we will be a
sterile boring American. It is coming to that and that is very sad.