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Uproar Grows Over Imus

Despite his on-air apologies, the calls continued Monday for radio host Don Imus to be fired from his syndicated morning program, which is also broadcast on a cable channel, for making racially charged comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and the head of the New Jersey chapter of the NAACP want Imus thrown off the air. The Rev. Jesse Jackson planned a protest in Chicago for Monday.

A contrite Don Imus described himself Monday as "a good person" who made a bad mistake.

Speaking on his radio show Monday morning, Imus said he was not trying to downplay what he called "the repulsiveness" of the remarks, in which he referred to the mostly black team as "nappy-headed hos" — "hos" is slang for "whores." But he said it was important to understand the context of his comments.

"We were kidding around, but that doesn't change it. That doesn't make it any less repugnant," he said Monday.

"That's not even the N-word," said Sharpton on his own radio program Monday. Sharpton has called for Imus to be fired because of the remarks. "I think they do not understand the depth of the outrage that this has unleashed in the community."

"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 it was not said with malice."

Imus said he hoped to meet the players and their parents and coaches.

"I'm not a journalist...I'm not a politician, we're a comedy show. Sometimes we go too far, sometimes we go way too far," he told Sharpton on the minister's own syndicated radio program. "What I did was horrible and repugnant ... These young ladies played for the national championship, and I ruined it."

Sharpton has said he wants Imus fired and that he intends to complain to the Federal Communications Commission about the matter.

"For him to mainstream this kind of racial hate, we must send a message that enough is enough," Sharpton said Monday.

With Rutgers womens basketball coach Vivien Stringer in attendance at Easter Services, Rev. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ, called for Imus' firing.

"It's time for Mr. Imus to leave that job and take off that cowboy hat and be unemployed," he said in his sermon.

Soaries talked with Imus by telephone Sunday night, and listened to Imus' program Monday morning, but said on the Sharpton program he felt that Imus still did not understand that magnitude of what he said.

Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said on the Sharpton show he doesn't see any other resolution than for Imus to resign.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Jesse Jackson planned a protest in Chicago, and an NAACP official called for the broadcaster's resignation or firing.

Imus made the now infamous remark Wednesday during his radio show, which is nationally syndicated by CBS Radio.


The Rutgers team, which includes eight black women, had lost the day before in the NCAA women's championship game. Imus was speaking with producer Bernard McGuirk about the game when the exchange began on "Imus in the Morning," which is broadcast to millions of people on more than 70 stations and MSNBC.

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers," Imus said. "Man, they got tattoos ..."

"Some hardcore hos," McGuirk said.

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

Imus also apologized on the air Friday, but his mea culpa has not quieted the uproar.

Jackson said his RainbowPUSH Coalition planned to protest Monday in Chicago outside the offices of NBC, which owns MSNBC. Jackson said protests were being planned across the country.

James E. Harris, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, demanded Sunday that Imus "resign or be terminated immediately."

Allison Gollust, a spokeswoman for MSNBC, said the network considers Imus' comments "deplorable" and is reviewing the matter.

Karen Mateo, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio said the company was "disappointed" in Imus' actions and characterized his comments as "completely inappropriate."

It's not the first time Don Imus has pushed the limits of free speech, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. It's why many of his listeners tune in, and why his bosses have kept him on the air.

He discusses current issues and plays country-and-western music on WFAN-AM, a CBS-owned station that is otherwise all-sports. He was "inherited" when WNBC-AM changed formats and owners.

He could survive to insult another day.

"People do outrageous things all the time and they're not fired, they're fired if they're not successful, if they don't bring in money for the company," said media analyst Ken Auletta.

Sharpton is calling for a nationwide boycott of Imus' sponsors, hoping hitting companies' bottom lines will finally silence the shock jock.

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