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Reactions to the Imus controversy

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During an interview on “Today,” shock jock Don Imus told Matt Lauer that he plans to make changes to his program when he returns to the air after his suspension for making racially insensitive remarks: “There ought to be a black person on this show every single day to add some perspective,” Imus said today. “And we ought to have more black guests, and me and the rest of white America ought to understand what’s going on in the black community, and I’ll make an effort to do that.”

He also said that he thought his suspension was “appropriate.” But others begged to differ. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
Al Sharpton
“This kind of use of the airwaves must be stopped,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, calling for Imus’ firing. “You’re talking about a show that leading political figures, presidential candidates, news anchors go on.... What precedent are we setting now, that you can apologize every 10 years when you go over the line and maybe you’ll get a two-week suspension?” (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
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“He’s put himself in a tenuous position. Clients have asked us to pull their advertising because it’s controversial and offensive,” said Dennis McGuire, vice president and regional broadcast director for Carat USA, a leading media-buying agency. (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
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“This has nothing to do with Imus,” said Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of the talk radio magazine Talkers. “ ‘Bitch’ and ‘ho’ are so prevalent in music, radio, television and the movies these days that it’s reached the point where white people think it’s OK to say these things. It’s like a game of musical chairs where they stopped playing the music and the spotlight happened to be on him.” (AP)
SCHIEFFER
“While I just totally just disapprove of what he said, I’m not going to sever my relationship with him,” said Bob Schieffer, the longtime host of CBS’ “Face the Nation” and a frequent guest on “Imus in the Morning.” “But I understand this controversy, and this is a very serious thing, and none of us should make light of it or in any way try to excuse it. Don gets wound up sometimes and starts talking, and he always takes it right up to the edge, and that’s part of his appeal. This time he not only went over the edge, he went over by a long way.” (Carolyn Cole / LAT)
Al Roker
“The ‘I’m a good person who said a bad thing’ apology doesn’t cut it,” “Today” weatherman Al Roker wrote on his “Today” show blog, calling for Imus to be fired. “At least he didn’t try to weasel out of this by hiding behind alcohol or drug abuse. Still, he said it and a two-week suspension doesn’t cut it. It is, at best, a slap on the wrist. A vacation. Nothing.” (Scott Gries / Getty Images)
Brian Williams
Imus “is asking that he be judged by what is ‘in his heart’ rather than the hateful words that came out of his mouth last week,” NBC anchorman Brian Williams wrote on his blog. “Making this especially difficult: the obvious fact that many of us have been on-air guests of his, a relationship both sides have benefited from over the years. His comments and the anger and damage they have caused have sparked a furor ... a heated conversation — in media and society — in this building and elsewhere.” Williams did not say whether he would return on the program. (Stephen Chernin / AP)
Kenny Smith
“What he said had no relevance to sports, to basketball, to anything other than being prejudiced,” said Kenny Smith, an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” who often engages in freewheeling banter with his colleague, former basketball great Charles Barkley. “What was in the dark has come to light.... There have to be some standards across the board. It’s not about firing him but helping the next person who goes this direction know there are consequences.” (TNT)
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Imus has reached a settlement with CBS over his multimillion-dollar contract. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)
Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Well I have never been asked to go on his show, and I’ve never wanted to go on his show, and I certainly don’t ever intend to go on his show,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a 2008 presidential candidate. “And I felt that way before his latest outrageous hateful, hurtful comments, and they just reaffirmed my belief that there really shouldn’t be a place for that kind of outrageous commentary on the public airwaves.”

Times staff writers Matea Gold, Martin Miller, Greg Braxton and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, along with Reuters wire service, contributed to this report. (Kevin Rivoli / AP)
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