Syndicated radio host Don Imus was fired Thursday by CBS Radio for insulting comments he made on his show about the Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team.
“From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship with such class, energy and talent,” CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in a statement.
“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,” the statement continued. “That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.”
On Wednesday, MSNBC announced it was permanently dropping its simulcast of the Imus in the Morning radio program in the wake of controversy after the host referred to the female basketball players as “nappy-headed hos.”
Imus has apologized repeatedly for the comment. During an appearance on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show, he called his remark a joke that “went way too far.” But the blog FishbowlDC reports that, on his radio show on Thursday morning, Imus shot back, asking when Sharpton would apologize to the Duke lacrosse players. (Charges that the players had sexually assaulted an African-American woman were dropped on Wednesday).
Imus also said Thursday that he had “apologized enough” and would not go on “some talk show tour,” according to CNN.
“I’m not going to go talk to Larry King or Barbara Walters or anyone else,” Imus said on his flagship station in New York, WFAN-AM, which is owned by CBS Corp. “The only other people I want to talk to are these young women at the team, and then that’s it.”
On Thursday’s episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, 10 Rutgers University women’s basketball players and coach C. Vivian Stringer appeared live via satellite. “In light of all of what has happened, the team is holding up extremely well,” Stringer said. “We have each other, and certainly the support of the American people.”
Stringer said she and her players never had an agenda to get Imus off the air. “We wanted to have an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with him.” But the cancellation of the simulcast by MSNBC, she said, “shows that we do have a moral fiber and we as a people are speaking up. … It’s gratifying for us to know that people really do care.”
Imus had requested a meeting with the players, she said, and the players were amenable to the idea. “He really doesn’t know the Rutgers women’s basketball team, and he certainly made a characterization that is defaming. We wanted him to get a chance to know who we are, and we certainly wanted to know who this man was.”
When asked by Oprah when the meeting might be, Stringer said, “We have not indicated when. It will happen very, very soon, and perhaps there will be a catharsis of sorts and we’ll have an opportunity to put this to rest.”
Imus’s syndicated radio show, which originates from WFAN in New York City, reached an estimated 2.5 million people a week, the Associated Press reports. The MSNBC simulcast reached an estimated 361,000 viewers in the first three months of the year.