Off the Air: the Light Goes Out For Radio Personality Don Imus
CBS brought the weeklong confrontation over racial and sexual insults by the radio host Don Imus to an end Thursday when it canceled the "Imus in the Morning" show, effective immediately.
The move came one day after MSNBC, a General Electric unit that has simulcast Imus' radio show on its cable television network for the past 10 years, removed the show from its morning lineup. The two moves together mean that Imus, who has been broadcasting his show for more than 30 years, no longer has a home on either national radio or television.
It is possible, though, that he could re-emerge on satellite radio.
Imus received the news in a telephone call to his home. Many of his listeners learned of it during the afternoon radio show "Mike and the Mad Dog," which announced it on WFAN, the same New York station owned by CBS that carried Imus' show.
The CBS chief executive, Leslie Moonves, held a meeting Thursday afternoon with the Rev. Al Sharpton, a leader in what became a national movement to remove Imus from the air in the wake of comments disparaging members of the Rutgers women's basketball team. On his program of April 4, Imus referred to the Rutgers athletes as "nappy-headed ho's."
Both CBS and MSNBC had been under pressure from black leaders and women's groups; perhaps more important, advertisers began abandoning the Imus show and its networks this week, pulling out the financial underpinnings from the show.
In a statement, Moonves said: "Those who have spoken with us the last few days represent people of good will from all segments of our society — all races, economic groups, men and women alike. 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."
He went on to say, "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 our colleagues across the CBS Corporation and our many other constituencies."
The CBS decision came only hours before Imus and the Rutgers basketball team arrived at the New Jersey's governor mansion in Princeton Township, where he was expected to apologize in person for his remark.