This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," April 10, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: We begin with the "Big Scandal." Don Imus will have the heart-to-heart with the athletes he called "nappy-headed hos." For the first time since this scandal broke, the Rutgers women's basketball team spoke out today. They say they've now agreed to a private meeting with the shock jock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESSENCE CARSON, RUTGERS BASKETBALL PLAYER: And personally, if someone were to apologize to me, I would feel better if I heard from them themselves.
KIA VAUGHN, RUTGERS BASKETBALL PLAYER: I would like to know why, you know, it was said. What's the reason for it being said.
CARSON: The remarks that were made were definitely unacceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unless, in my case, a "ho" stands for achievement or something that should get (INAUDIBLE), you know, that you're a wonderful person, then I'm not a "ho." And at that, I'm a woman and I'm someone's child and you know, it hurts a lot. It does hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: This comes just one day after CBS radio and NBC suspended Imus for two weeks. His punishment starts next Monday.
In the meantime, Imus is making the rounds asking for forgiveness on his own radio show, on the Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show and on NBC on the "Today" show. But is his apology hurting him more than helping him? Imus faced some pretty tough questioning this morning from NBC colleague and "Today" show host Matt Lauer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW CO-HOST: This isn't the first time you've crossed the line. This isn't the first time that racially insensitive comments have been made by you or members of your staff. There was an incident with Gwen Ifill, a highly regarded African-American journalist who was referred to as a cleaning lady. We heard about the...
DON IMUS: You are not going to do that to me. You are not going to cite that and not give me an opportunity to respond to that.
LAUER: Well, I will give you an opportunity in a second. If you didn't immediately understand how deplorable the comments were of last week, how can you be trusted to clean up your own act and censor yourself down the road in the future?
IMUS: Well, perhaps I can't then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: Imus does have a history of saying things like this and so do others in our society. Is this now a universal warning against the use of racial slurs? With me now is someone who's been calling for Don Imus to be fired, civil rights leader and the founder of the National Action Network, Rev. Al Sharpton.
Rev. Sharpton, we start off with the premise, without doubt, that what Imus said was completely unacceptable. But my question to you is: Is this now suggestion that these words should be banned from the English language and that anybody who uses them ought to be fired or removed from their position of power?
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: I think if they're in a position of using federally regulated airwaves, radio or TV or in some public position that others have to subsidize with tax dollars or if they're supported with advertising dollars, yes, they should be removed. I think that is why it's so important that what happens to Mr. Imus is not some slap on the wrist because it will be a precedent either way for how situations like this in the future are to be judged.
GIBSON: But Rev. Sharpton, let me ask you this question. Banning race words — and we hear them in music, we see them in television, there are some very famous African-American people who've used some of these word as well as Don Imus — does this rule apply for rappers and record executives who make money from those rappers or just, if I can put it this way, the old white guy?
SHARPTON: No, it applies to everybody. You're talking to a guy who has consistently said that I disagree with this. I have said that we should not have the "N" word. I have went and met with FCC about the violence and the language that some, not all, have used in hip-hop. So you are talking to a guy that you should be saying, how could he not go after Imus when I was the guy that jumped up and down saying "Barbershop" was wrong when it desecrated and denigrated Rosa Parks, and when I took positions against some of these shows on TV.
GIBSON: Yeah, but Rev. Sharpton, I saw you last week, holding the news conference in Brooklyn about an incident between a couple of rappers in which a 14-year-old boy was slapped around by an adult. And you called for an end to this. But you didn't drag them in on your radio show, you didn't publicly...
SHARPTON: I couldn't get them to come on my radio show.
GIBSON: ...put the wood to them like you did Don Imus.
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, John, there's a little contradiction in what you said. You saw me at a press conference to denounce what they were doing. If that wasn't taking them to task, then what was it for?
GIBSON: Well no, but Rev. Sharpton — and I am giving you credit for doing it — but I saw it on local TV in New York.
SHARPTON: And the press should have covered it nationally. They should have covered it worldwide.
GIBSON: Well, the point is, if you're...
SHARPTON: In fact, you should have invited me on your show last week when I did that.
GIBSON: Well, I've been talking about this for a long time. If you're willing to shout down Don Imus, are you willing to go after Jay-Z or 50 Cent or those guys who do this all the time?
SHARPTON: I'm willing to go after anybody and I have. But you can't, at the same time, use them to cover Don Imus.
GIBSON: Oh no, I don't want him covered, Rev. Sharpton. I would like him...
SHARPTON: Don Imus has an obligation on federally regulated airwaves to abide by standard.
GIBSON: You have called him out on this. I want to know if you going to call out with similar volume...
SHARPTON: No, I'm not going — I have.
GIBSON: ...those people who are making hundreds of millions of dollars calling young black women "hos."
SHARPTON: I have called them out. I will continue to call them out. I have been on this station many times calling them out. I was the one that objected to "Barbershop" talking about Rosa Park. I've objected to the term "ho," I've objected to the term "B" and the "N" word. And I'm glad that finally somebody on this station will cover when we do that. I didn't think you knew about the press conference.
GIBSON: Are you kidding? I've been talking about these rappers for a long time. I wonder why is it they get away with it?
SHARPTON: Your station didn't cover that.
GIBSON: No, we do.
SHARPTON: I am absolutely...
GIBSON: Rev. Sharpton, I have been criticized for yelling at these rappers about this. We do cover it. I have been wondering why more people in positions of power in the African-American community let prominent African-Americans get away with this.
SHARPTON: I think that it is wrong. I have said that. First of all, I don't think that all hip-hop or all rap is bad. I think those that use these words are hurting our community. But, again, I do not think that they can be convenient fall for Don Imus...
GIBSON: Oh no.
SHARPTON: ...who has done this for years and
GIBSON: We're not letting him off the hook. And keep it up. And I hope to see you going after those other people. Thank you very much.
SHARPTON: And I hope to be with you to do that.
GIBSON: All right. You are invited back to do it. Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
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