Imus Remark: Off Center or Misconstrued?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: First, Don Imus under fire again. Listen to this exchange from his radio show Monday morning.


WOLF: He's been arrested six times since being drafted by Tennessee in 2005.

IMUS: What color is he?

WOLF: He's African-American.

IMUS: Well, there you go. Ok. Now we know.


COLMES: Now critics say that Imus's comment was out of line, and after last year's saga, they say he has a history that can't be overlooked.

Now on this morning's show, Imus clarified what he said.


Video: Watch the interview

IMUS: This was a sarcastic observation about racial profiling which it was. They haven't heard me talk about it before. Well, you haven't listened then. God Almighty. I mean, there's nothing, just shut up. Leave me alone.


COLMES: Joining us now is the chairman of the National Action Network, Reverend Franklyn Richardson and national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, Niger Innis.

Welcome you both to the show.

Pastor Richardson, last time, of course, it was your group and Reverend Sharpton that really brought to light what Don Imus had done. Have you taken a position on what's happened this time?

REV. FRANKLYN RICHARDSON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Our position is to consult and wait, to see — to examine this and see what kind of — where this comes from.

COLMES: All right. You heard the tape and maybe you've seen it as well. In context, what I understood is that he was talking about the issue of how sometimes authorities go after African-Americans.

Is he black? Yes. Five times arrested. That's what happens to black men in American.

RICHARDSON: I think the two statements were incongruent. I think that the first statement was insulting, the second statement was wonderful to hear. And I hope that he'll go on the frontline and.

COLMES: What was insulting? Which part are you saying is insulting?

RICHARDSON: The statement regarding the African-American — didn't you know he's African-American? Didn't you know he was black?

COLMES: Well — wasn't he — he may have been doing that to set up the idea that.


COLMES: ...oh, he's black, we all know he's black and look what happens to black men in America.

RICHARDSON: The problem is that the controversy is around the fact that whatever we say is informed by what we've already said.


RICHARDSON: And so what Imus has said previously certainly had impact on how we hear.

COLMES: Yes, but the truth is that he has said he learned something, Niger, from what happened last time, that he had a lesson, he learned of something, and he apologized, and now he comes forward and thankfully is employed again — at least that's my view that he's thankfully employed — and, you know, people love redemption and people giving somebody another opportunity.

And I would think that Imus has perhaps learned something in — with the saga that happened a year go.

NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: If people are sincere, you know, you guys — by the way, it's good to see you guys again. As always. You, too, Franklyn.

But let me tell you. I — forgive me if I don't drink the victim Kool-Aid here. I think, you know, all these characters — they got something left to be desired.

Let's take a little — you took a trip down memory road? Let's take another trip down memory road — the last time Imus got into it — had a problem, he went to Sharpton for counsel. Sharpton whipped him like a little child, he got out of a contract that he wanted to get out of, got into a much bigger contract with much more dollar. Sharpton...


COLMES: Wait, wait, wait.

INNIS: ...Sharpton got media stories that he used to beat up on corporate America.

COLLINS: Let me get this straight.

INNIS: I'm sorry, I didn't mean that.


COLMES: You're on a roll, but. He wanted to get fired? He wanted to get fired from MSNBC, he wanted to be fired by CBS.

INNIS: I'm just saying he got out of a contract that he was rumored...

COLLINS: Two contracts.

INNIS: want to get out of. I'm not speaking of the MSNBC, I'm speaking of the CBS contract. He's making more money now.


INNIS: I want to check his ratings to see, you know To see what's happening here.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Hang on a second. I wan t— by the way, Dr. Richardson, it's good to see you.

RICHARDSON: It's good to see you, Sean.

HANNITY: I have a simple question. And Imus's ratings because he's on our station now in New York through the roof. I would say it's, you know, (INAUDIBLE) with Rush and Sean and the great one, Mark Levine.


HANNITY: All right. Do you listen to him, Dr. Richardson, since he came back on the air?

RICHARDSON: Have I listened to him?


RICHARDSON: No, I don't listen to Imus.

HANNITY: You don't listen to Imus. So in the context of this remark, you don't really have any idea what he's done on the air in terms of race relations since he — since he got back on?

RICHARDSON: I have no idea.

HANNITY: Well, don't you think you need know that?

RICHARDSON: I would love to know it.

HANNITY: Before you can comment on him?

RICHARDSON: No. I don't have to comment.

HANNITY: Because I listen to him.

RICHARDSON: No, listen.

HANNITY: You know I'm in a position.

RICHARDSON: I don't have to comment, Sean. I can comment on what I hear and what I know.


RICHARDSON: I don't have to know everything.

HANNITY: But you're admitting you don't hear, you don't listen.

RICHARDSON: No, I'm — that's not the criteria. If you give me.


RICHARDSON: If you give me a statement of — that's an insulting statement, and you hook it up with your previous insulting statement, then I can make my decision.

HANNITY: All right. Here's what I can tell you. Why am I in a position? I don't even like this guy, and I'm always defending him.

You know here's the context that I know.


HANNITY: His staff — do you realize that he has diversified his staff.

RICHARDSON: Yes, I realized that. I know that.

HANNITY: And he has very talented people...

RICHARDSON: I know that.

HANNITY: ...that I think have made his program better than it's ever been.


HANNITY: And he's got his old staff, he's got Bernie and Charles McCord, and new staff on the show. He's diversified. Do you realize I've heard this guy repeatedly talk about race relations and the negativity and the negative impact it's had on people's lives? Don't you think if you heard that these comments would be in a broader context that you could judge him by before you run out there?


HANNITY: You just said we're waiting, we're going to see.


RICHARDSON: But that's what we're going to do. You have to hold people accountable. There's — nothing wrong with saying we're going to look at it and listen. That's much different than saying we want him fired. We want to sit calmly and say is this a real problem or has he really been changed?

INNIS: Well, I'm going to go after him on a different angle. But if he's sincerely trying to do that and trying to, you know, be an angelic friend to Pacman Jones who's not an angelic cherub — I mean he does a little bit of record, all right?

HANNITY: Apparently.

INNIS: He's enshrining and he's reaffirming a victimology that I don't think at this moment in history when you have a black man, regardless of the politics, and I know you and I may not agree on a lot of these issues, but regardless of the politics, this guy is about to become the nominee for the Dixiecratic Party — I mean the Democratic Party, OK?

A historic achievement, beating the Clinton machine, and the last message we want to give to anybody here is that we need to keep promoting this victimology that this whole episode, even if Imus was sincere, was also promoting.

HANNITY: But I mean have you listened to him since he's come back on the air?

INNIS: I have.

HANNITY: And you've noticed a change as I have?

INNIS: I have. I mean.

HANNITY: I mean — but it's an irreverent show with a lot of locker room humor. It's meant for.

INNIS: It has been — I mean I was offended by his statements, but he was across-the-board bigot.

HANNITY: To everybody.

INNIS: To everybody, yes, across the board.

HANNITY: If we — listen, he said.

INNIS: Jews, women.


INNIS: He's said something personally about me, he said something personal about you, my dad. I mean all.


RICHARDSON: I will give you this.


RICHARDSON: I will give you this. There certainly is a tremendous difference between his response after this and his response after the previous comment.

HANNITY: Yes, he said.

RICHARDSON: His response today — all I'm saying to you that it's — it may be emerging a new Imus.

HANNITY: Wait a minute.

INNIS: He learned from.

HANNITY: He apologized.

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