MSNBC said Wednesday it will drop its simulcast of the “Imus in the Morning” radio program, responding to growing outrage about the radio host’s racial slur against the Rutgers women’s basketball team.LINK: MSNBC drops simulcast of Don Imus show
“This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees,” NBC news said in a statement.
Talk-show host Don Imus triggered the uproar on his April 4 show, when he referred to the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” His comments have been widely denounced by civil rights and women’s groups.
The decision does not affect Imus’ nationally syndicated radio show, and the ultimate decision on the fate of that program will rest with executives at CBS Corp. In a statement, CBS reiterated that Imus will be suspended without pay for two weeks beginning on Monday, and that CBS Radio “will continue to speak with all concerned parties and monitor the situation closely.”MSNBC’s action came after a growing list of sponsors — including American Express Co., Sprint Nextel Corp., Staples Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., and General Motors Corp. — said they were pulling ads from Imus’ show for the indefinite future.
NBC News President Steve Capus said he made the decision after reading thousands of e-mails and having countless discussions with NBC workers and the public, but he denied the potential loss of advertising dollars had anything to do with it.
“I take no joy in this. It’s not a particularly happy moment, but it needed to happen,” he said. “I can’t ignore the fact that there is a very long list of inappropriate comments, of inappropriate banter, and it has to stop.”
NBC’s decision came at a time when Imus’ program on MSNBC was doing better competitively than it ever has been. For the first three months of the year, its audience was nearly identical to CNN’s, leading CNN to replace its morning news team last week.‘He's crossed the line’
Calls for Imus’ firing from the radio portion of the program have intensified during the past week, and remained strong even after MSNBC’s announcment. The show originates from WFAN-AM in New York City and is syndicated nationally by Westwood One, both of which are managed by CBS Corp. MSNBC, which had been simulcasting the show, is a unit of General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal.
Bruce Gordon, former head of the NAACP and a director of CBS Corp., said before MSNBC’s decision Wednesday he hoped the broadcasting company would “make the smart decision” by firing Imus.
“He’s crossed the line, he’s violated our community,” Gordon said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He needs to face the consequence of that violation.”
Gordon, a longtime telecommunications executive, stepped down in March after 19 months as head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the foremost U.S. civil rights organizations.
He said he had spoken with CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves and hoped the company, after reviewing the situation, would fire Imus rather than let him return to the air at the end of his suspension.
“We should have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to what I see as irresponsible, racist behavior,” Gordon said. “The Imus comments go beyond humor. Maybe he thought it was funny, but that’s not what occurred.”A CBS spokesman, Dana McClintock, declined comment on the remarks by Gordon, who is one of at least two minorities on the 13-member board.
The 10 members of the Rutgers team spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about the on-air comments, made the day after the team lost the NCAA championship game to Tennessee. Some of them wiped away tears as their coach, C. Vivian Stringer, criticized Imus for “racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable, abominable and unconscionable.”The women, eight of whom are black, agreed to meet with Imus privately and hear his explanation. They held back from saying whether they’d accept Imus’ apologies.
Stringer said late Wednesday that she did not call for Imus’ firing, but was pleased with the decision by NBC executives.
She said the meeting with Imus was never designed to call for his removal but to give the women on the team the opportunity to meet with him and for him to see the people he had so publicly hurt.
“The young ladies and I needed to put a face behind the remarks... He needs to know who these young ladies are that he hurt,” Stringer said.Imus has apologized repeatedly for his comments. He said Tuesday he hadn’t been thinking when making a joke that went “way too far.” He also said that those who called for his firing without knowing him, his philanthropic work or what his show was about would be making an “ill-informed” choice.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said in New York that he would put pressure on CBS but that the issue was larger than Imus.
“I think we also have to have now a broad discussion on how the music industry allows this to be used,” Sharpton said. “I don’t think that we should stop at NBC, and I don’t think we should stop at Imus.”
Media Matters issued a statement regarding this decision...
Cancellation Sparked by Racist Comments First Posted by Media Matters
Washington, DC - This evening, David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America released the following statement regarding the decision of NBC News to cancel MSNBC's simulcast of Imus in the Morning.
"By canceling their simulcast of Don Imus on MSNBC, the National Broadcasting Company has finally done the right thing. We hope CBS Radio will again follow NBC's lead.
More and more Americans are coming to understand the damage done by major news organizations providing a platform for bigoted commentary and other conservative misinformation, and they are demanding change. MSNBC's decision is an important step in the right direction.
This decision sends a clear message to other networks, journalists and media personalities that bigotry and hate speech have no place on America's airwaves.
The cable networks would be well advised to think twice about their broadcasting decisions in the future. It is our hope that this will open a larger dialogue on the overall tone of the media today."
As first posted by Media Matters for America, on the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, host Don Imus referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team, which is comprised of eight African-American and two white players, as "nappy-headed hos" immediately after the show's executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, called the team "hard-core hos." Later, former Imus sports announcer Sid Rosenberg, who was filling in for sportscaster Chris Carlin, said: "The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the [National Basketball Association's] Toronto Raptors."
LINK: Imus Cancellation: Statement from Media Matters
LINKS from the Drudge Report...
CBS puts off any further action...
Hillary Slams Imus: 'I've never wanted to go on his show and I certainly don't ever intend to go on his show'...
CBS Director Hopes Imus Will Be Fired...
Obama calls for Imus to be fired...
Rosie on Imus: 'Thought police' are coming...
Edwards On Imus: 'I Believe In Forgiveness'...
Will CBS Radio follow suit? I'm not sure -- not after this comment he made....