Every time you think radio broadcaster Don Imus and one of his long-time sidekicks, Sid Rosenberg, have sunk as low as possible, they find yet another way to dish even more slime.
Imus' latest offense involves referring to Black women on the Rutgers basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." The team, which has eight African Americans and two Whites, lost to Tennessee last week in the women's championship game.
The April 4 "Imus in the Morning" program, simulcast on MSNBC, contained this exchange:
DON IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between — a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.
SID ROSENBERG (Fired Imus sports announcer filling in for sportscaster Chris Carlin): Yeah, Tennessee won last night — seventh championship for (Tennessee coach) Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.
IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and —
BERNARD McGUIRK (The program's executive producer): Some hard-core hos.
IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some — woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like — kinda like — I don't know.
McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.
McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes — that movie that he had.
IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough —
CHARLES McCORD [co-host]: Do The Right Thing.
McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
IMUS: I don't know if I'd have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?
ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.
IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.
LOU RUFFINO (engineer): Only tougher.
McGUIRK: The (Memphis) Grizzlies would be more appropriate.
Initially, Imus refused to apologize for the comments, saying people should relax and not worry about "some idiot comment meant to be amusing." On April 6, the idiot finally apologized for "an insensitive and ill-conceived remark."
McCord, the show's co-host, was evidently referring to Spike Lee's 1988 film, "School Daze," not "Do the Right Thing." In "School Daze," there was a rivalry between the dark-skinned "Jigaboos" and the light-skinned "Wannabees."
Rosenberg has been "fired" a couple of times from the Imus program, but keeps making guest appearances. The monitoring group, Media Matters for America, observed:
"Rosenberg's comparison of the Rutgers women's basketball team to the Raptors recalled comments he made in June 2001 about Venus and Serena Williams, two African American female professional tennis players. According to a Nov. 20, 2001, Newsday article, Rosenberg said on the air: "One time, a friend, he says to me, 'Listen, one of these days you're gonna see Venus and Serena Williams in Playboy.' I said, 'You've got a better shot at National Geographic.'"
Imus' belated apology notwithstanding, his program is a cesspool for racist and sexist remarks. Imus once referred to PBS anchor Gwen Ifill as "a cleaning lady" and McGuirk referred to Barack Obama as "this young colored fellah."
According to mediamatters.org, "On the March 6 edition of MSNBC's 'Imus in the Morning', executive producer Bernard McGuirk said that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., was 'trying to sound Black in front of a Black audience' when she gave a speech on March 4 in Selma, Ala., to commemorate the 1965 'Bloody Sunday' civil rights march. McGuirk added that Clinton 'will have cornrows and gold teeth before this fight with (Sen. Barack) Obama, D-Ill., is over.' Earlier in the program, in reference to Clinton's speech, McGuirk had said, 'Bitch is gonna be wearing cornrows.' McGuirk also said that Clinton will be 'giving Crips signs during speeches.' The Crips are a Los Angeles-based street gang.
"Later, host Don Imus brought up McGuirk's prior impersonations of African American poet Maya Angelou asking, 'Who was that woman you used to do, the poet? ... We used to get in all that trouble every time you'd do her.' As McGuirk launched into the impersonation, Imus said, 'I don't need any more columns. Come on.' But Imus did not stop McGuirk, who delivered his impression in verse:
McGUIRK: Whitey plucked you from the jungle for too many years
Took away your pride, your dignity, and your spears…
With freedom came new woes
Into whitey's world you was rudely cast
So wake up now and go to work?
You can kiss my big black (butt)"
It's time to wake up and insist that MSNBC, which claims to be a reputable television network, and CBS, the program's distributor, remove such raving idiots from the airwaves. If company officials refuse, we should refuse to watch their network or support their sponsors. You can e-mail MSNBC at [email protected], write them at: MSNBC TV, One MSNBC Plaza, Secaucus, N.J. 07094, or call 201-583-5000.
By allowing Imus to pollute the airwaves, MSNBC and CBS Radio are the entities acting like hos.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach.