Foot, meet (big) mouth. Again.
Six months after returning to the airwaves following his "nappy-headed hos" no-no, Don Imus was on the defensive today after comments he made about troubled Dallas Cowboys defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones' race.
On his new morning show for WABC Radio, the controversial shock jock and sportscaster Warner Wolf were discussing the football star's decision to ditch his nickname to help rehabilitate his image in the wake of several run-ins with the law.
"Defensive back Adam 'Pacman' Jones, recently signed by the Cowboys—here's a guy suspended all of 2007, following a shooting in a Vegas nightclub," announced Wolf.
"Well, stuff happens," said Imus. "You're in a nightclub, for god's sake. What do you think is going to happen in a nightclub. People are drinking and doing drugs. There are women there, and people have guns. So there, go ahead."
"He's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005," added Wolf.
"What color is he?" asked Imus.
"He's African-American," replied Wolf.
"Well, there you go," said Imus. "Now we know."
Upon hearing the playback, Jones blasted the radio man, telling the Dallas Morning News the response was offensive and uncalled for.
"I'm truly upset about the comments," he said. "Obviously, Mr. Imus has problems with African-Americans. I'm upset, and I hope the station he works for handles it accordingly. I will pray for him."
Cue the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network helped to oust Imus from his gigs at CBS Radio and MSNBC following his remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team the last time around.
"I find the inference of his remark disturbing because it plays into stereotypes," Sharpton said in a statement. "Any use of stereotypes is always counterproductive. We will determine in the next day or so whether or not his remark warrants direct action on our part, as we did in April of last year."
Imus—who apologized repeatedly after the last brouhaha and promised to work for racial harmony—stuck to his guns this morning, stating that he was simply trying to make a "sarcastic point" in defense of African-Americans and was taken out of context.
"What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason," he told listeners. "I mean, there's no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once."
Imus labeled the latest furor "ridiculous" and pointed out that he's gone to great lengths to repair his frayed relationship with the black community, even hiring a black producer and two black cohosts, one of them a woman.
"How insane would I have to be? What would I be thinking?" he wondered.
Imus got a key on-air vote of confidence from one of his African-American cohosts, Karith Foster.
"People who interpret what you said as racist clearly didn't hear the whole thing, and they don't know who you are and what the program is about—and they obviously haven't been listening," she told him.
Both WABC and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. endordsed Imus' explanation and said it was unlikely the remarks will warrant any disciplinary action, citing Imus' explanation.