Ousted shock-jock Don Imus, whose on-air remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team ignited a media storm and national debate about race, gender and free speech on public airwaves, appears ready to talk some expensive trash at his former employer.
With about $40 million left on his contract with CBS Radio -- whose boss Les Moonves fired the I-Man on April 12 -- Imus has decided to hire Martin Garbus, a New York-based attorney at the law firm Davis & Gilbert, who is widely recognized as one of the country's most able First Amendment lawyers, Fortune reports.
At issue, Fortune reports, is whether language in Imus' contract encouraged him and his producers to be irreverent and engage in character attacks.
The language, a source told Fortune, was part of a five-year agreement that went into effect in 2006, and that paid Imus close to $10 million a year. The contract stipulates that Imus be given a warning before being fired for doing what he made a career out of: making off-color jokes.
Garbus successfully represented comedian Lenny Bruce against criminal charges on First Amendment grounds, and the writer Robert Sam Anson in a lawsuit filed by Walt Disney trying to halt the publication of a book critical of the media giant.
But in Imus' case, his free speech rights are tempered by the fact that he said what he said on the public airwaves, which are subject to Federal Communications Commission regulations about what is appropriate content.
Meanwhile, Imus plans to retreat to his ranch in New Mexico for the summer before deciding whether to make another go of it on the radio, Fortune reports.