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    MSNBC Unplugs Imus for Good

    As far as MSNBC is concerned, Don Imus is better heard, not seen. 

    In the wake of widespread outrage over racially offensive comments the morning radio host made last week on the air, the cable network announced Wednesday that it's dropping its daily simulcast of the veteran radio personality's nationally syndicated show, Imus in the Morning.  

    "This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension," read a statement from NBC News. "It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees.

    "What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this company. This is the only decision that makes that possible. Once again, we apologize to the women of the Rutgers basketball team and to our viewers. We deeply regret the pain this incident has caused."

    A week ago, during a conversation about the NCAA women's basketball finals, in which the University of Tennessee beat Rutgers University, Imus referred—jokingly, he has since said—to the Rutgers team as "nappy-headed hos." 

    The remarks immediately triggered calls for boycotts from, among others, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who hosted Imus on his own New York-based radio show Monday as Imus kicked off what promises to be a lengthy mea culpa campaign; the Reverend Jesse Jackson; the NAACP and the National Association of Black Journalists. 

    Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer also called Imus to task for making "racist and sexist remarks  that are deplorable, despicable, abominable and unconscionable," but stopped short of calling for his ouster, instead agreeing to a meeting between Imus and her team, which includes eight black players.

    CBS Radio and MSNBC responded to the fallout Monday by slapping Imus with a two-week suspension, effective Apr. 16 to allow for a week of prerecorded fundraising programming. 

    But while CBS maintained in a statement Wednesday that Imus remains on unpaid leave, saying it "will continue to speak with all concerned parties and monitor the situation closely," MSNBC went ahead and axed his show from the schedule after a number of big-name sponsors, including American Express, Staples, Procter & Gamble, Sprint and General Motors, started pulling ads from Imus' time slot for the indefinite future.

    An American Express rep said that the card you shouldn't leave home without out doesn't advertise on "controversial programming" and Sprint spokeswoman Sara Krueger said, "We do not want our advertising associated with content which we, our customers and the public find offensive."

    Meanwhile, publisher Simon & Schuster has confirmed that Imus' wife, Deirdre, has scrapped her upcoming book tour to promote the environmentally friendly-sounding Green This! Volume One: Greening Your Cleaning, choosing instead to lie low due to her husband's apparently career-threatening slip-up.

    "Because of the pressure that the Imus family has been under, family is her first priority at this time," a Simon & Schuster rep said.

    Imus in the Morning originates from New York's WFAN-AM and is syndicated by Westwood One, both of which are managed by CBS Corp.

     

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