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Imus Fired From MSNBC and CBS Radio
By: Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA Washington Correspondent
Originally posted 4/10/2007

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Don Imus, under scorching criticism for his racially insulting and sexist remarks about the Rutgers University Basketball Team, has been fired from his radio show on CBS and the simulcast TV Show on MSNBC.

The firings came after major advertisers began dropping the MSNBC show under pressure by protests led by Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and others.

Imus, known for a string of racially and culturally insensitive remarks, called the team ''Nappy-headed hoes.'' He repeatedly apologized, including to the team, but public outrage sought his ouster.

Says Sharpton, ''This is blatant racism...The FCC [Federal Communications Commission] ought to take him off the air'' and added that he was writing a letter requesting that the agency does just that.

But, Sharpton says Black musicians and rappers should also be held accountable for degrading slurs of Black women.

''That's the reason why I thought someone like me could take this on because I've been critical of that,'' says Sharpton. ''I took on the rappers on that. I said many people are not going to like me jumping on the gangsta rappers. I said then, we're going to give license to Whites to do this. Now that they do it, we don't like it.''

Rutgers' coach C. Vivian Stringer called the Imus comments, ''racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable and unconscionable.'

MSNBC at first suspended Imus for two weeks before firing him only days later.

In a press conference, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said ''These young ladies are the best this nation has to offer and we are so very fortunate to have them at Rutgers University...They are young ladies of class, distinction. They are articulate.

They are brilliant. They are gifted,'' Stringer adds, ''They are God's representatives in every sense of the word.''

Among the players who spoke out, sophomore Heather Zurich, said although the team did not win, they were joyful at having made the championship. ''We were stripped of this moment by a degrading comment made by Mr. Imus,'' Zurich said.

On April 4 on his syndicated radio show ''Imus in the Morning,'' which airs live on MSNBC, Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as ''some nappy-headed hos'', which in gangsta rap lyrics is commonly used for the term whore.

Imus' slur came in response to his executive producer Bernard McGuirk, who called the team, which has eight African-American players, ''some hard-core hos.''

McGuirk then took it a step further, describing the teams in which Tennessee defeated Rutgers in the NCAA women's basketball championship, as ''The Jigaboos verses the Wannabes'', apparently a take from Spike Lee's movie, ''Do the Right Thing.''

John Smith, publisher of the Atlanta Inquirer and chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, says he agrees with Sharpton that ''part of it's our fault for allowing our people to say it.''

But, Smith says, MSNBC must take greater responsibility for what's happened by releasing a statement denouncing the comment.

Smith says the '''hos'' comment by Imus is just indicative of a racist mentality among much of American media, which often treats Blacks with a double standard.

''Anna Nicole Smith, with all that she's done, they're praising her every day, raising her up with all that she's done for the world to see. She's been on TV every day. Janet Jackson, all that happened was one of her breasts came out. And they tried to crucify her.''

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has also called for his firing.

NABJ President Bryan Monroe, who joined Sharpton on the radio show with Imus, maintained that he should be fired.

''NABJ remains outraged after the racially inflammatory insults made by radio personality Don Imus,'' says a statement on the organizations website.

Angela Burt-Murray, editor-in-chief of ESSENCE magazine also called for a tougher reprimand of Imus. ''Disparaging comments about African-American women are unacceptable.'' says Burt-Murray.

''MSNBC and WFAN must take a stronger stance. It needs to be made clear that this type of behavior is offensive and will not be tolerated without severe consequences.''

Black women should be outraged, says San Francisco psychologist Julia Hare, co-founder of the Black Think Tank.

''Until the Black woman says that we are organized and we outnumber Black men. And when we find that anyone in media or in high position are calling us names - because we notice that you don't call your blond mothers this or your sisters or your daughter this - then we must move to remove you from that particular position.''

Hare says the fact that Imus might have picked up the term from rappers is no excuse. ''He is truly just an old guard racist.''

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond says because of Imus' past offensive statements, this time is inexcusable.

''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. It is past time his employers took him off the air,'' Bond said in a statement.

The recent outrage over Imus' comments harkens to C. DeLores Tucker, the late chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women, Inc., who was a strong critic of hip-hop culture for more than a decade, citing its denigration of Black women and its negative influence on youth.

''The glorification of pornography, wanton disregard for civil authority, misogynistic disrespect for women and a penchant for violence are the unintended impact of hip-hop culture on today's youth,'' she told JET. ''I say unintended, because hip hop ... was intended to celebrate the revival of the age-old rhymed recitations of life's problems and aspirations set to music.''

Sharpton says this is an opportunity to deal with it all.

''The FCC has got to put in a standard and enforce it across the board. And I think that our community has got to take a real appraisal of what we've aloud to happen. Here you have some young ladies who did the right thing. They're in school, they're excelling in athletics.

And then to be called a 'ho, largely because some elements in the music industry allowed that to happen. And I'm not going to sit by and allow the rap industry or Imus sit around and denigrate our young women,'' Sharpton says. ''I've got two young daughters...And even though we've got some blame to bear. I'm certainly not going to sit there and act like Imus doesn't have enough sense to know better. He wouldn't do that to any other community no matter what they did.''

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