- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC said yesterday that it will drop its simulcast of the “Imus in the Morning” radio program, responding to growing outrage over the host’s racial slur against the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

“This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees,” NBC News said.

The decision also was announced on air.

Mr. Imus triggered the uproar on his April 4 show, when he referred to the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” His comments have been widely denounced by civil rights and women’s groups.

The decision does not affect Mr. Imus’ nationally syndicated radio show. The fate of that program will rest with executives at CBS, which manages both the show’s originating station, WFAN-AM in New York City, and its syndicator, Westwood One.

CBS reiterated that Mr. Imus will be suspended without pay for two weeks beginning Monday and that CBS Radio “will continue to speak with all concerned parties and monitor the situation closely.”

MSNBC’s decision came after a growing list of sponsors — including American Express Co., Staples Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., and General Motors Corp. — said they were pulling ads from Mr. Imus’ show for the indefinite future.

NBC News President Steve Capus said he made the decision after reading thousands of e-mails and having countless discussions with NBC workers and the public, but he denied the potential loss of advertising dollars had anything to do with it.

Bruce S. Gordon, former head of the NAACP and a director of CBS Corp., said yesterday he hoped CBS would “make the smart decision” by firing Mr. Imus.

“He’s crossed the line, he’s violated our community,” Mr. Gordon told the Associated Press. “He needs to face the consequence of that violation.”

Mr. Gordon, a longtime telecommunications executive, stepped down in March after 19 months as head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He said he had spoken with CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves and hoped the company, after reviewing the situation, would fire Mr. Imus rather than letting him return to the air at the end of a two-week suspension that begins Monday.

“We should have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to what I see as irresponsible, racist behavior,” Mr. Gordon said. “The Imus comments go beyond humor. Maybe he thought it was funny, but that’s not what occurred.”

Mr. Imus has apologized repeatedly for his comments. He said Tuesday that he hadn’t been thinking when making a joke that went “way too far.”

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