Don Imus Apologizes on Sharpton's Show

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This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 9, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: But first, our top story tonight. The whole country is buzzing following Don Imus' comments on his radio show about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.


DON IMUS, RADIO HOST: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some hardcore hos.

IMUS: Those are some nappy-headed hos, yes.


HANNITY: Imus then apologized for the comments at length on his radio show this morning.


IMUS: I'm sorry I did that. I'm embarrassed that I did that. I did a bad thing, but I'm a good person.


HANNITY: And then, this afternoon, Imus appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton's radio program to explain himself and made some more comments that some people say could be just as bad as the original one.


IMUS: It's like the old country song, "God may forgive you, but I won't. Jesus may love you, but I don't." So I can't get any place with you people, but I can get some place with Jesus.


IMUS: You and this woman I'm talking to.


HANNITY: And just a short time ago, CBS Radio announced that Imus has, in fact, been suspended from his radio show for two weeks. Also, NBC News suspended their television simulcast of Imus' program.

The president of NBC, Steve Capus, released the following statement. Quote, "Beginning Monday, April 16th, MSNBC will suspend simulcasting the syndicated 'Imus in the Morning' radio program for two weeks. Now, this comes after careful consideration in the days since his racist, abhorrent comments were made. Don Imus has expressed profound regret and embarrassment and has made a commitment to listen to all of those who have raised legitimate expressions of outrage. In addition, his dedication, in his words, to change the discourse on his program moving forward has confirmed for us that this action is appropriate. Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word."

Joining us now with more on this developing story is Dr. Marc Lamont Hill of Temple University, radio talk show host, nationally syndicated Armstrong Williams, and right here in our New York studio, comedian, radio personality Patrice O'Neal.

All right. Welcome back. Good to see you. Did CBS and NBC do the right thing?

PATRICE O'NEAL, COMEDIAN: No. What are they accomplishing after two weeks? And what did they accomplish in — what are you all trying to accomplish? I don't understand where this is going.


HANNITY: So, in all seriousness, you don't find anything wrong with those comments?

O'NEAL: It's something wrong with the comments, but you act like Don Imus and Kramer are like malignant spots. But the whole country...

HANNITY: I'm asking you. I didn't even give you my opinion yet.

O'NEAL: White people, I know what your opinion is.

HANNITY: White people?

O'NEAL: Yes, and that whole thing you read was all, like, abhorrent, outrage...


O'NEAL: Nobody black is saying that.

DR. MARC LAMONT HILL, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: That's because they were. That's because those comments were abhorrent. And the reason we have to defend these young women is because no one else will. The reason we have to punish Don Imus is because, if we don't stand up and speak out, no one else will. And comments like this will be continue to be mainstream...


HANNITY: Dr. Hill, hang on a second. What if this was your daughter who worked so hard, reached the championship, and some dopey radio host says something like that? You wouldn't like it.

O'NEAL: First of all, have you had any of those girls on?

HANNITY: We'll invite them on.

O'NEAL: What do you think...


HANNITY: They've commented to NBC in New York, and they're furious.

O'NEAL: Of course. That ain't the real...

HANNITY: These are their words.

O'NEAL: What do you think they really said when they heard that? They didn't go, "Oh, that's outrageous." They went, "I know you didn't call me no nappy-headed ho!" That's what they said. "I know that cracker didn't say nappy-headed ho!" That's what they said. There wasn't outraged.

HILL: We can't base our indignation on those eight young women. It's quite possible, because of the way black women are treated in America, that they were used to hearing such things. But it's still inappropriate. We cannot allow our own dignity to be assaulted in that way without a response. And my response doesn't hinge upon those eight young women who were disrespected. Even...


HANNITY: Dr. Hill, let me ask you this. So he admits it was wrong, outrageous. These are his words, not mine, over the top. He has apologized. He's promised to make good. He's now been suspended. Should he — are you saying you want him fired?

HILL: Absolutely. I'm happy that CBS has stood up. I'm happy that the network, NBC, has stood up and said, look, this is punishable, and they're giving him two weeks. But two weeks is insufficient. We cannot allow this type of thing to happen. Giving him two weeks only enables someone else to do the same thing. All the attention he's garnered, all the promotion he's going to get, all the free publicity, they say no publicity is bad publicity. He's going to have a job. At the end of the day, he should not get...


HANNITY: Armstrong?

ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, what he said was disgusting. It was abhorrent. It was terrible. It's very offensive. But the sad news is, is that this is what Don Imus does.

He said things about Venus and Serena Williams. He said things about Gwen Ifill. He said things about others...

HANNITY: Should he be fired?


WILLIAMS: He's talked about Jews. He talks about everybody. This is what he does.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Armstrong, it's Alan. Welcome back to our show.


WILLIAMS: ... I did not interrupt you. I did not interrupt you. May I finish?

COLMES: Yes, sir.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. He talked about all of these people. They have allowed this to go on. I don't believe in censorship. I believe in the ultimate freedom of speech. I think the marketplace should decide.

Certainly, CBS Radio and everyone else has a right to suspend him, to send a message that, after many warnings, they will not tolerate this any longer. But firing him — and another thing we're doing, we're setting another precedent. Don Imus is not the only shock jock who used this kind of terminology and racist remarks. They are other people that use it.

You set a dangerous precedent when you say that someone like Don Imus should be fired, because there are a lot of people who happen not to look like Don Imus. It's easy to fire...

COLMES: Armstrong, hold on.


WILLIAMS: ... but we've got to hold everybody to the same standard.


COLMES: Hold on, Armstrong.

HILL: Let's fire all of them then. I have no problem with that.

O'NEAL: And then what?

COLMES: Are you offended?

O'NEAL: I'm not — because, first of all, nobody except for me and the good doctor's under 60 and none of you know what funny is. Like a doctor...


COLMES: Was it funny what Imus said? Was it funny?

O'NEAL: To say "nappy-headed ho" is hilarious.


O'NEAL: But in context of a comic, you should be able to explore any words you want to say. He messed up.

COLMES: Would it be different if a black person said it?

O'NEAL: Of course. I can say nappy-headed ho all day. But I want to be able to call white girls straight-headed hos any time I feel like it. Anytime.

COLMES: Would you?

O'NEAL: Of course!

COLMES: And should you be punished for it?

O'NEAL: Of course not.

COLMES: So, Doctor Hill, are we overreacting here? I mean, look, what he said was inappropriate, was wrong. He's apologized. At what point do we say, OK, how about a little forgiveness? He's been contrite. He went on Reverend Sharpton's show today.


COLMES: Do we keep punishing the guy?

O'NEAL: He's crying.

HILL: Well, first, let me say, I didn't find him contrite on Reverend Sharpton's show.

COLMES: He was very contrite.

HILL: I found him arrogant. I found him somewhat belligerent.


COLMES: What do you want? Do you want blood?

HILL: And his "you people" comment, to me, really underscored the fact that he's not all that apologetic and that deep beneath him is a severe character flaws that's directly connected...

COLMES: We all have character flaws.


HILL: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if your character flaws were uttered in such a way that they cause severe abuse to people in full public view on a daily basis...


COLMES: Do you know that anybody was abused here?


COLMES: Was anybody really abused here?

HILL: Oh, absolutely. I think that's what we need to look, at black women in their particular position in America. When they're referred to as hos, when they're referred to as the b-word on a constant basis, we need to challenge that, not just when it comes from Don Imus. When it comes from anyone...


O'NEAL: But, listen, if we start challenging that word, right, and why start to try to ban the word nigger and ban the word nappy-headed hos, right, let me ask you, how — who is going to suffer in the long run? It ain't going to be white people. You don't say nappy-headed ho on a regular basis in the straight. I might. I say ho, maybe not nappy. That's something new for me.

COLMES: And ho is not racial.

HILL: But with everything going on in the world, why are we fighting so vigorously to defend the right to call ourselves the n-word or hos?

HANNITY: We've got a lot of ground to cover...

HILL: That's my issue.

HANNITY: ... not the least of which, is there a double standard? We're going to delve into that when we get back.

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