In an official statement, NABJ president Barbara Ciara said: "NABJ remains outraged after the racially inflammatory insults made by Don Imus last spring. He used his free speech to broadcast hate speech. To put him back on the air now makes light of his serious and offensive racial remarks that are still ringing in the ears of people all over this country." She added: "It is our hope that Citadel Broadcasting and Fox News will put decency and good broadcast practices ahead of a dysfunctional alliance."
Two weeks ago, Newsday reported that Don Imus and Citadel were close to finalizing contractual details for a new Imus show, perhaps broadcast by flagship station WABC in New York. Subsequently, The New York Times quoted Citadel CEO Farid Suleman as saying: "He's more than paid the price for what he did. I think he should be evaluated by what he does going forward."
In the wake of Imus' inflammatory comments, most major advertisers withdrew from his CBS show and the MSNBC-televised simulcast. Advertisers that fled the PR meltdown included Staples Inc., Bigelow Teas, Procter & Gamble, GM, Sprint and American Express.
In August, Imus settled with CBS out of court for a rumored $20 million after threatening to bring a lawsuit against his ex-employer for breach of contract. The shock jock's lawyer--First Amendment expert Martin Garbus--argued that CBS had, in essence, hired him to be offensive and also approved the comments for broadcast. (The show was on a several-second delay.)
Imus does indeed have a history of making offensive comments on the air. In a 1997 interview, Imus admitted to Mike Wallace that he had hired a producer to "do nigger jokes." Four years earlier, Imus referred to NABJ member Gwen Ifill, then a Washington correspondent for The New York Times, now host of PBS' "Washington Week," as a "cleaning lady"--a racist insult which Ifill recalled in an op-ed piece in the Times. Imus also called William C. Rhoden, a respected sportswriter for the newspaper, a "quota hire."
Imus has also made anti-Semitic comments on air. In November 2006, he lambasted the "Jewish management at whoever we work for, CBS," referring to them as "money-grubbing bastards." Two years earlier, Imus referred to publishers of a new book called "The Christmas Thief" as "thieving Jews."