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Columnists React to Don Imus’ Remarks About Rutgers Players

Radio and television talk show host Don Imus apologized for making disparaging remarks about black players on the Rutgers women's basketball team, but the public outcry has continued. Two columnists offer their views on the issue.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Every weekday morning, Don Imus holds forth on the air, mixing interviews and opinions, on the news, politics and whatever grabs him that day.

    Millions tune in on the radio. Imus' show is broadcast on more than 70 stations nationwide. Another 350,000 or so watch as the program is simulcast on the MSNBC cable network.

    But a racially charged exchange with one of his on-air sidekicks last week has sparked outrage and calls for his ouster. The subject: the almost-entirely African-American Rutgers University women's basketball team, which played in the NCAA championship game.

  • DON IMUS, Radio Host:

    That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and

  • BERNARD MCGUIRK, Radio Co-Host:

    Some hard-core hos.

  • DON IMUS:

    That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that now.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Imus initially downplayed the comments as typical of his morning show banter, but by Friday he was apologizing. And this morning, with criticism growing, he made a much longer statement.

  • DON IMUS:

    I wasn't drunk. I'm not some angry, raving nut on a nightclub stage, and I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person. But I said a bad thing. But these young women deserve to know that it was not said with malice.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    There have been many calls for Imus' firing, among them the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who said this incident was not the first for Imus and crew.

  • REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, Civil Rights Activist:

    They've made these kind of racist statements about Maya Angelou. They've made them referring to Venus and Serena Williams as the animals, they should be in "National Geographic."

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In another often quoted incident, Imus is reported to have said of the NewsHour's Gwen Ifill, when she worked at the New York Times in the 1990s, "Isn't the Times wonderful? It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House."

    Imus today denied ever saying that.

    This afternoon, Imus appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton's radio program. Sharpton had also called for Imus to be fired.

  • DON IMUS:

    Don't you think I'm humiliated? Don't you think I'm embarrassed?

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Over the years, Imus has cultivated not only a large radio following, but an influential audience among high-profile politicians and journalists. He often hosts the people making and covering the news.

  • DON IMUS:

    Jim Lehrer is the executive director…

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