This afternoon, MSNBC, which simulcasts Don Imus’s syndicated radio show, announced it was suspending the host for two weeks for remarks he made last week regarding th eRusterg’s women’s basketball team. Soon thereafter, CBS radio and WFAN announced they were doing the same. The suspensions begin next Monday. The actions followed a day of further protests for Imus calling the young women “nappy-headed hos” during his show. The post below was written prior to the suspension announcements.
Now that everyone has had a chance to smack each other around, can we all take a deep breath, embrace sanity and figure out how to move ahead? Today, Don Imus appeared on Rev Al Sharpton’s radio show and took his lumps with the host, NABJ President Bryan Monroe, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus and other guests. Imus dished it out a bit too, refusing to stand idly after Monroe characterized his early career by saying Imus “did commercials selling used cars.”
The most occured when Imus said he had no clue how he should pay for his vulgar and deplorable statements. We all know he won;’t be fired. He means too much to the bottom line for WFAN or his CBS, which syndicates his show, “Imus in the Morning.” So what should happen?
Imus thinks a face-to-face apology to the Rutgers women’s team and their parents is enough.
I don’t. Here’s what I think he (and his way-too-silent employers) should do:
1) Imus and Producer Bernard McGurk, who instigated the offensive conversation, should be suspended for at least two weeks. Sports fill-in Sid Rosenberg should fired, this time for good. He should never appear on the show again.
2) Imus should immediately hire a producer who is African American – someone to sit at the table and help shape his daily show whose presence would remind Imus and his minions that the rest of the world does not look and sound and think like they do. (NOTE: On Tuesday, Imus said “there should be an African-American on this show every day.” We’ll see, starting with his firt show following the suspension.)
3) Imus should immediately include a politically savvy African American journalist to his mix of regular contributors to debate the issues of the day right alongside Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, et al.
4) Imus, MSNBC, WFAN and CBS MUST create a scholarship fund for minority women who want to pursue careers in the media. The group should also create a minority internship progam for the show.
It could take awhile but these changes – along with Imus’s stated promise that his show would change going forward – will ultimately change the culture of the popular radio program. Imus must stop telling us what he’ll do next and start showing us.
Who knows. I might even start listening again.