On the morning of December 27th, known racist and radio host Don Imus died at the age of 79.
If you’re lucky, you grew up not knowing who Don Imus was. If you’re around my age, chances are you found out who Don Imus was in 2007 when he was fired from CBS for referring to players on the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” At the time, it felt like it was almost impossible to turn on the news without seeing someone offering their opinion on his remarks.
Gwen Ifill, who had previously been referred to by Imus as a “cleaning lady” appeared on Meet the Press and offered a sentiment that is, unfortunately, just as relevant today, over a decade later, as it was in 2007. Speaking with Tim Russert she said, “My concern about Mr. Imus and about a lot of people… is not that people are sorry that they say these things, they’re sorry that someone catches them.”
This was, of course, not the first or the last time Imus had been caught using racist language, which is not surprising given that he was, in fact, a racist.
Later in 2007 Imus appeared on Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show to address his remarks. After becoming frustrated with the conversation, Imus remarked that he couldn’t “get any place with you people.” That comment obviously didn’t go over well with Sharpton.
A 2006 The New York Times reported that in 2004 he had referred to book publishers Simon & Schuster as “thieving Jews,” and had previously called Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz a “boner-nosed … beanie-wearing little Jew boy” in 1998.
In 2008 Imus, while discussing the suspension of Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback Adam Jones, asked “what color” Jones was. When he was informed Jones was Black, Imus cavalierly replied, “Well there you go, now we know.”
It’s unfortunate that Imus was allowed to continue making these kinds of remarks and spewing his vitriol into the airwaves until his retirement in 2018. After his firing from CBS, New York based radio network WABC picked up Imus’ show Imus in the Morning from 2007-2018. Fox Business Network also ran Imus’ show on TV from 2009-2015.
If somewhere there do exist fans of Imus’ work, they can return to Imus’ infamous quote, forever solidified in Nicki Minaj’s 2012 track Stupid Hoe, certainly a far more generous memorial than Imus deserves.