Don Imus, the embattled radio host who made racially charged comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, has been fired from CBS, according to a statement from the media company. CBS announced on Thursday that it was canceling Imus’ show, effective immediately, one day after MSNBC cancelled their television broadcast of it. Both media companies initially planned to merely suspend Imus for two weeks.
“In our meetings with concerned groups, there has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society,” said CBS President and CEO in a statement.
“That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision, as have the many e-mails, phone calls and personal discussions we have had with out colleagues across the CBS Corporation and our many other constituencies,” Moonves also said in the statement.
On Thursday night the Rutgers team met with Imus for several hours. They accepted his personal apology, according to a statement read Friday by coach C. Vivian Stringer.
“We, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knight basketball team, accept—accept—Mr. Imus’ apology, and we are in the process of forgiving,” said Stringer, who added that the team still finds his remarks “unacceptable.”
Imus’ wife, Deirdre Coleman Imus, who is helming his radio fundraiser in his absence, said that the young women have received hate mail amidst the frenzy of attention.
“I want to say the hate e-mail being sent to them must stop,” she said on CBS Radio Friday. “If you must send e-mail, send it to my husband.”
When asked about the hate mail, Rutgers team spokeswoman Stacey Brann told Associated Press that the team had received “two or three emails” but also “over 600 wonderful e-mails.”
On Tuesday, members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team spoke publicly for the first time about the issue at a press conference.
“We are students first,” said Essence Carson, a 20-year-old junior from Paterson, New Jersey, who fielded most of the audience’s questions. “We did not do anything to deserve this controversy.” Carson also said the team has agreed to a private meeting with Imus in the near future, but they have not yet determined whether they will accept his apology.
CBS Radio originally announced on Monday night that they would suspend Imus’s radio talk show for two weeks in response to Imus calling the team “nappy-headed hos” on the air last week.
“I’m not a ho. I’m a woman, someone’s child,” sophomore Kia Vaughn said. “I want to ask him, ‘After you’ve met me, as an African-American woman, do you still feel that I’m a nappy-headed ho?’”
In response to the question of whether the lyrics in popular rap songs are partly to blame for Imus’s use of the word, Carson said, “Rap music has desensitized people to some of the lyrics, but that doesn’t make it any more right.” She went on to say that the focus should be on moving toward women not being classified by degrading names in any context.
“This has scarred me for life,” said junior Matee Ajavon of the derogatory remarks. “I’ve dealt with racism before. But for this to be in the public eye like this, it will be something I will tell my grandchildren and other future generations.”
Imus’s remarks sparked widespread outrage from the public. On Monday the Reverend Jesse Jackson led a protest with his Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Outside the NBC Tower in Chicago, about 50 protestors called for the radio host’s dismissal, wielding signs, and chanting “Imus must go and Rosenberg, too.” Sports announcer Sid Rosenberg likened the Rutgers women’s basketball team to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors during the notorious April 4 broadcast of Imus in the Morning.
“These people are making money off bigotry,” Jackson said, “so we must remove the profits earned from that bigotry.”
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Credit: Associated Press