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MSBC fired Don Imus Wednesday, saying it would no longer simulcast his morning radio show because of his racial and sexual insults to the women’s basketball team of Rutgers University.
Industry insiders way CBS radio may soon follow suit and put an end to the shock jock’s long career of hosting and insulting people from all walks of life. A member of CBS’ board of directors called Wednesday for Imus’s dismissal. CBS owns the radio station where the Imus program originates.
The network statement went on to say, “Once again, we apologize to the women of the Rutgers basketball team and to our viewers. We deeply regret the pain this incident has caused.”
Imusâ€™ show originates on the New York radio station WFAN, owned by CBS Corp., and is distributed nationally on radio by Westwood One. CBS owns an 18 percent stake in Westwood One and also manages the company. For its part, CBS has not announced plans to discontinue the show.
Before the announcement was made, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) had appeared on the MSNBC program “Hardball,” where host David Gregory asked the senator and presidential candidate if he thought Imus should be fired.
“I don’t think MSNBC should be carrying the kinds of hateful remarks that Imus uttered the other day,” Obama said. He went on to note that he and his wife have “two daughters who are African-American, gorgeous, tall, and I hope, at some point, are interested enough in sports that they get athletic scholarships. … I don’t want them to be getting a bunch of information that, somehow, they’re less than anybody else. And I don’t think MSNBC should want to promote that kind of language.”
Imus and his producer had referred to the mostly black Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” In a press conference Tuesday, the team said they had agreed to a private meeting with Imus.
Advertisers had been pulling out
Earlier Wednesday and Tuesday, advertisers had begun pulling out of supporting the Imus show. General Motors Corp., a significant advertiser on the show, said on Wednesday that it was suspending its advertising but could resume it at a later date.
â€œThis is a very fluid situation, and weâ€™ll just continue to monitor it as it goes forward when he returns to the air,â€ GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said, adding that GM would continue to support Imusâ€™ charitable efforts for children dealing with cancer and autism.
American Express said Wednesday that it had also pulled its advertising from Imusâ€™ show as of Tuesday. â€œOur policy isnâ€™t to advertise on controversial programming,â€ company spokeswoman Judy Tenzer said.
Procter & Gamble Co. and the office supply chain Staples Inc. have also said they would pull out, and Bigelow Tea said it was considering doing so. How many other advertisers follow suit could depend largely on how Imus handles the fallout from the controversy.
Kim Hillyer, a spokeswoman for TD Ameritrade, said the brokerage was â€œevaluatingâ€ its continued advertising plans in the program but did not have any further comment.
Imusâ€™ program is worth about $15 million to CBS Corp. through advertising on WFAN and syndication fees received from MSNBC and Westwood One.
A CBS Radio spokeswoman declined to comment on the advertiser actions or to identify other advertisers that may have pulled out of Imusâ€™ shows.