MSNBC cancels simulcast of 'Imus in the Morning'; Obama first presidential candidate to call for radio host's firing
MSNBC announced Wednesday that it will cease its simulcast of the Imus in the Morning program.
NBC News President Steve Capus said in a statement, "Over the course of the last week many of you have reached out to me and expressed your strong viewpoints on the Don Imus situation. I've had countless conversations, e-mail exchanges and phone calls with people throughout this company. I've heard you loud and clear. Therefore, we are announcing tonight that MSNBC will no longer simulcast the Imus radio program."
Capus cited concerns over the "integrity" of the NBC News division as the main reason for dropping the simulcast.
There are also unconfirmed media reports that the Federal Communications Commission will begin an investigation into Don Imus for the comments he made about the Rutger's women's basketball team.
Two days after facing criticism from some in the black community for silence over a racially charged remark radio host Don Imus made on his April 4th show, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) today publicly called for the veteran host's firing.
"I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus," Obama said in an interview with ABC News, "but I would also say that there's nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude."
Obama said that Imus "fed into some of the worst stereotypes" that young African-American females face in America, and said he would not appear on the Imus in the Morning radio program in the future.
Obama is the first presidential candidate to call for Imus's firing.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) differed on the growing backlash against Imus, saying, "He has apologized. He said that he is deeply sorry. I'm a great believer in redemption." Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani also told reporters that he had called Imus and felt that "he understands that he made a very, very big mistake."
Among Democratic front-runners, the reaction to the Imus flap was similar to Obama's, but without an outright demand for his dismissal. Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-NY) released a statement on her website blasting Imus' remarks as "small-minded bigotry and coarse sexism," but fell short of calling for the radio host's removal.
John Edwards seemed to echo McCain at a campaign stop Wednesday when he said of Imus, "I believe in redemption, I believe in forgiveness."
Clinton, who has never been a guest on the show, said she would not appear on the Imus in the Morning program in the future. "I've never wanted to go on his show and I certainly don't ever intend to go on his show, and I felt that way before his latest outrageous, hateful, hurtful comments," she said.
Edwards said that he needed to hear more from Imus before deciding whether he would appear on the show. Giuliani and McCain have both said they would appear on the show in the future if invited.
Imus' comments have had a far-reaching effect. A Stroudsburg, PA radio host was fired this morning after repeating the shock jock's words on his morning radio show. The host, Gary Smith, apologized for making "I'm a nappy-headed ho" his "Phrase that Pays" on the April 10th morning program. The station said that the comments "crossed the line."
Editor's note: Article corrected to reflect that Senator Clinton has never been a guest on Imus and recently said she would not be a guest in the future.