Returning to the airwaves this morning after a seven-month exile, Don Imus seemed intent on demonstrating two things. First, that he was unequivocally contrite concerning the comments he had made about the Rutgers University women's basketball players that resulted in his firing. Second, his contrition notwithstanding, he wasn't going to change his irreverent ways when it came to the country's political leaders.
To prove his iconoclastic bona fides, Imus concluded his monologue by observing "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, and Hillary Clinton is still Satan."
Listen to audio here [with apologies for the mediocre sound quality.]
But before ending on that defiant note, he took several minutes to describe his meeting with the women of the Rutgers team, and the way the entire experience had changed him.
Excerpts from Imus's remarks:
- As most of you know, I haven't talked to anyone. I didn't see any point in going on some sort of a Larry King tour to offer some lame excuses for making a reprehensible and inexcusable remark about innocent people who did not deserve to be made fun of.
- I think what happened is about what should have happened. One has to realize and I certainly do that you don't get to decide, nor should you, how the news media is going to treat a remark you made, the kind of remark I made. You don't get to decide whether they're going to put it in context. You don't get to whine and complain if you pick up the New York Times, and in an essay about the wonderful, brilliant legal mind of Martin Garbus you read that what you said is a racist tirade. And every time I would start to get pissed off about that, I would remind myself that if I hadn't said what I said, then we wouldn't be having this discussion, and I wouldn't have to deal with that, and the women at Rutgers wouldn't have to deal with it.
- Les Moonves [CBS president] could not have been more honorable and more straightforward and more decent and more honest in dealing with me. There was not at any point that he said "oh, everything's going to be fine," or whatever. We understood the gravity of the remark; we understood the consequences for the young women at Rutgers. And we all recognized, I certainly did, that it was just a matter of time before he did what he had to do.
- We now have the opportunity to have a better program, to obviously diversify the cast, I mean that just makes sense, but the program is not going to change. It was a great radio program. It's on a better radio station, one of the great iconic radio stations in the history of broadcasting, WABC [offers live streaming of show] in New York, I mean, you couldn't make that up. And you know I have this special place in my heart, Charles and I do, for RFD-TV, already in 30 million homes, and if you don't have it on your cable system, you call them and tell them you want it.
At that point, Imus set the bar mighty high for the way not only he but his crew and guests would conduct themselves going foward.
I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me. And no one else will say anything on my program that will make anybody think that I didn't deserve a second chance.
That newly-instituted 21-second tape delay could get a work-out.
It was a bit later that Imus ended his remarks by flying his flag of impudence in the face of political leaders.
But other than that, not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war crimina; Hillary Clinton is still Satan . . . and I'm back on the radio!