Imus apologizes, calls remark ‘stupid’

Times Staff Writer

Radio provocateur Don Imus apologized Friday for referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “some nappy-headed hos” during a broadcast this week of his syndicated radio show, “Imus in the Morning,” which also airs live on MSNBC.

“Want to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning regarding the Rutgers women’s basketball team,” Imus said on the air Friday. “It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry.”

The shock jock made the comment Wednesday during a discussion about the NCAA women’s basketball championship, in which he referred to the Rutgers players as “rough girls.” His executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, called the team -- which includes eight African American players -- “some hard-core hos.”

“That’s some nappy-headed hos there,” Imus added.

Imus’ caustic language and disparaging comments have drawn fire in the past, but the criticism of his slur about the Rutgers team was especially fierce. NCAA President Myles Brand and Rutgers University President Richard McCormick issued a joint statement condemning his language, and the National Assn. of Black Journalists called for the shock jock to get kicked off the air. “Those comments were beyond offensive,” NABJ President Bryan Monroe said in a statement. “Imus needs to be fired. Today.”

It remains to be seen whether the controversy will cause any permanent repercussions for Imus, whose show, produced by New York sports station WFAN-AM, airs on more than 70 radio stations, with millions of listeners. Karen Mateo, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio, which owns WFAN, said the company was disappointed by his actions, “which we find completely inappropriate. We fully agree that a sincere apology was called for and will continue to monitor the program’s content going forward.”


MSNBC officials also apologized but noted that “Imus in the Morning” is not produced by the cable news network. “As Imus makes clear every day, his views are not those of MSNBC,” the statement read. “We regret that his remarks were aired on MSNBC and apologize for these offensive comments.”

MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said the channel was taking the issue “very seriously.”

“We find the comments to be deplorable and are continuing to review the situation,” he said.

The simulcast of Imus’ radio program has aired on MSNBC since 1996. In the first quarter of this year, the show drew an average of 361,000 viewers, a boost of 39% over the same period last year, according to Nielsen Media Research.