Well, everyone has an opinion on this subject, so it's time for me to add my two cents to it.
Don Imus was fired by CBS Radio and WFAN on Thursday, one day after MSNBC dumped his TV simulcast of his morning program after last week he referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." It wasn't hard to see this coming, as the negative publicity over this has been snowballing as the week has gone on. It's been the number one story on TV today, and it's even been ahead of the bombing of the Iraqi parliament that killed eight people on some news shows.
Of course it's because the Imus story is such a more important story. Good God.
I'm no fan of Don Imus; never have been. (I was a big Howard Stern fan in the days of their very public feuding on their radio shows, before Howard disappeared into the black hole of satellite radio.) Make no mistake about it, Imus has a long history of saying outrageous things about people of all races and backgrounds. His past on-air offenses are long and well-known so I won't list them here. What he said about the Rutgers team touched a raw nerve because they were a feel-good sports story, an underdog (as well as local to New York team) that fought their way to the NCAA women's final against Tennessee against some long odds, but which they ultimately ended up losing. They were a nice story, but Imus had to find some way to ridicule them, as he does to most things of this nature.
And since race played a big factor here, it made it all the more incendiary. I believe that Imus had thought himself bulletproof when it comes to controversies like this, and in his mind he figured it would all blow over. I'm sure he figured with his standing with Washington's elite politicians who come on his show to take his abuse, "The I-Man" had nothing to fear.
But the fact he went after young college girls like this really pissed too many people off. And also the fact he didn't apologize for 48 hours after he said what he said didn't help matters any either. And of course the fact that all but two of the women on the team are black made it a real firestorm.
Imus made an absolutely fatal mistake by going to the altar of that "paragon of virtue" and notorious racist hustler, Al Sharpton, and basically grovelled at his feet and apologized to him, thus starting "The Imus Apology Tour." (I refuse to refer to Sharpton as "Reverend," as that is an insult to all decent men of the cloth everywhere.) It was a pathetic attempt by Imus to salvage his career by going to Sharpton and trying to convince him and his radio audience that he's not at all a racist. Sharpton refused to accept his apology, as he thought Imus wasn't "sincere enough." (How ironic in that Sharpton was behind the Tawana Brawley hoax, and ten years after it ended was found guilty in court of defaming Steven Pagones, an upstate DA who he accused of raping the woman. Sharpton never once apologized to Pagones, or paid a dime to him as ordered by the court. His buddies paid the tab for it.)
But make no mistake about it. Imus might have survived, but when his sponsors at CBS Radio started bailing out on his show (the number was rumored to be close to 100 by Thursday), he was done. Don Imus began costing his company money. That's the bottom line, and when that happens, he's got to go. Forget all the self-serving nonsense from CBS and MSNBC with their reasons why they let him go. When they start losing money, there's a problem and heads have to roll.
I'm not crying over Imus' firing. He crossed the line of common decency, picked on a target he absolutely should never have, and now pays the price. Now Imus gets to go back to his ranch in New Mexico and count his millions. He could possibly pop up back on satellite radio, which is outside of FCC control and rant all he wants to. I bet he disappears for a while until all of this dies out. Imus has been down and out many times before and come back stronger. But he is 67 now, and maybe his time has come and gone. We'll see.
He's out of radio for now. I guess the world's a much better place now, right?