Imus suspended after racial remarks


NEW YORK -- MSNBC and CBS Radio suspended host Don Imus for two weeks following outrage over his racially charged remarks last week about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Both companies said late Monday that it would suspend "Imus in the Morning" for two weeks beginning April 16. A previously scheduled charity telethon will go on as scheduled Thursday and Friday on CBS-owned New York station WFAN-AM, which will be simulcast on MSNBC.

"This comes after careful consideration in the days since his racist, abhorrent comments were made," NBC News said in a statement.

NBC said that Imus would be given a second chance to prove himself able to change his ways, which the radio host himself said Monday afternoon "had gone too far" on last Wednesday's show.

"His dedication -- in his words -- to change the discourse on his program moving forward, has confirmed for us that this action is appropriate," NBC News said. "Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word."

The action comes as the holiday weekend did nothing to quell the firestorm of controversy over Imus' remarks and others on his syndicated radio show that originates and is simulcast from MSNBC's headquarters in Secaucus, N.J. Prominent African Americans such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton called for Imus' resignation or firing from the radio show that is syndicated by CBS Radio.

Imus made an appearance on Sharpton's nationally syndicated radio show Monday to answer charges he was racist. He acknowledged that apologizing wasn't enough and that "some gesture of reconciliation" would be required. He said that he had been trying to meet with the Rutgers players, their parents and the women's basketball coach to "ask them to forgive me."

He said he didn't want to be portrayed as racist for the remarks, which he said weren't meant to be racial.

" 'Nappy' is racial," Sharpton chided Imus.

"Yes sir, I understand that," Imus said. He said that he didn't say some of the other things that had been attributed to him.

"You didn't argue with it, either," Sharpton said. "It's the same show."

Imus said he wouldn't resign but said his critics had the right to call for his firing.

Imus, whose radio show is often graced by Washington media and political elite, apologized again several times on Monday's "Imus in the Morning" show. He said that his show was a place where, for the past three decades, many people have been made fun of but said the Rutgers team shouldn't have been.

"Some people don't deserve to be made fun of, like these young ladies who played for the national championship in basketball," Imus said. The Rutgers team lost last week to the University of Tennessee in the national championship.

He also defended himself, saying, "I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person who said something bad."

Sharpton kept up the pressure Monday on his radio program, calling for Imus' resignation or firing. He wasn't alone.

"I cannot see another way this saga can end," Brian Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said on Sharpton's show.