CNN Slams MSNBC Over Imus Controversy

April 9th, 2007 5:42 PM

On Monday’s "American Morning," CNN spent five minutes on the outrageousness of its daily competition: Don Imus’s remarks on MSNBC describing the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as "nappy-headed hoes." New CNN contributor Roland Martin was brought on to echo Al Sharpton’s demand that Imus be removed from his radio and TV microphones. Martin also went after left-wing women’s groups for not signing on to the anti-Imus cause as quickly as the National Association of Black Journalists.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I was surprised to see how many women's groups did not sign on early on. You listed some now, but that's like late, right?

MARTIN: Absolutely. Now, I posted something on my blog on Saturday. I was outraged. I went on Google and typed in 'Martha Burk' and came up with nothing. I said, wait a minute, this is the week of the Masters. Several years ago, she was protesting in Augusta National, nothing.

I typed in 'NOW and Don Imus,' nothing. And so I put something on the blog and I sent it out to 5,000 people on my e-mail blast and I said, this is ridiculous. How can this man insult young women, college-educated women, many of them carrying 4.0s, one has a triple major, and they say nothing? Now, Susan Scanlan said, well, Easter weekend. I said, Susan, I don't buy that. He made the comments on Wednesday, NABJ came out on Friday. NABJ released two statements in one day. And so these women's organizations were asleep at the wheel, so it's about time they stepped up. But again, they're absolutely late to this ball game.

Later, Martin went on the offensive against two individuals who are associated with Imus’s show.

S. O’BRIEN: Don't you think we are a forgiving nation and people say, wow, he really looks like he's contrite and he didn't mean it, he was trying to be funny. And should he lose his 40-year career because of those remarks?

MARTIN: Well, let's see, Sid Rosenberg, who made the racist comment -- I think his last name was Rosenberg, hope I didn't get it wrong. He previously made a racist comment, he's still on the show. His executive producer was the one who made the original 'ho' comment. He's still on the show. And so, you accept people who made comments in the past, and they still work for you, and then to say, well, you know, this really isn't me.

Martin did in fact got it wrong about Rosenberg, but it doesn’t involve his name. Rosenberg was banned from Imus’ show in May 2005, after joking about pop singer Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer diagnosis.

Finally, in reporting Don Imus’s scheduled appearance on Al Sharpton’s radio show, both O’Brien and Martin glossed over Sharpton’s own past when it comes to racially-charged controversy. This isn’t surprising, at least in the case of Soledad O’Brien, since she stood up for Sharpton and his record in February 2007.

Martin made another appearance on CNN on Monday. On the "Newsroom" program, he compared the Imus controversy to John Edwards pulling out of a presidential debate that was going to air on the Fox News Network.

T.J. HOLMES: What do you say about those folks, those politicians, those presidential candidates, who love going on the Don Imus show? What are they supposed to do now? Do they have a choice, or will they definitely be criticized and deserve to be criticized if they continue to go on the show?

MARTIN: Wait a minute. John Edwards just pulled out of a debate that the Democrats were going to host on Fox. The Democrats didn’t cancel it. The Congressional Black Caucus, they're going to hold a debate on the network, as well as CNN. He said I'm not participating in the one that’s going to air on that network. Now, you tell me - if they have enough sense not to appear on those type of shows they deem to be biased, why would you go on this show?

Martin’s comparison is completely out of proportion. Edwards pulled out of the planned debate, due to pressure from left-wing bloggers and groups, who criticized the perceived bias of Fox News towards Republicans and conservatives. Imus made a concretely offensive comment, and now there’s a push for notables to avoid his show.

Now, if Martin is right about Democrats, and they have enough sense to not appear on shows that are biased, would they be appearing on CNN and MSNBC programs?