When Don Imus made his now infamous and offensive "nappy haired ho's" comment last week, he probably did not foresee himself in the kind of controversy he is currently embroiled in. Imus has apologized, but this has not changed reverend Al Sharpton's position that Imus should be fired. As I write this, Imus is preparing to appear on Sharpton's radio show. I will be liveblogging the exchange:
1:50 PM: The big debate between Imus and Sharpton seems to be about intent. Imus says he did not intend to be offensive, but that what he said certainly was. Sharpton is arguing that intent is not the issue, and that whether Imus is a good guy or a bad guy is irrelevant. He is saying the comment, regardless of who says it, should bring about repercussions.
2:08 PM: Reverend Sharpton is saying that there need to be repercussions, and that if Imus were to get away with what he said, it may set a precedent for the future. Imus says that he is not coming out of this unscathed, and that the press coverage he has been receiving has done a tremendous amount of damage to his reputation, He says the embarrassment it has caused him is damage enough.
2:12PM: Things are getting a little testy. Bryan Monroe, President of the National Association of Black Journalists, made a comment that Imus viewed as an ad-hominem.-
Clearly there is a disconnect between what Imus believes is appropriate repercussions for what he said and what Sharpton thinks the repercussions should be. Considering the context and the format– broadcast radio with a simulcast on cable– what should be done? Should Imus be fired? Should he be suspended? Or is the disparaging coverage punishment enough? Howard Stern, no stranger to saying controversial things, took the jump to satellite radio to avoid the problems Imus has found himself in. Perhaps Imus could follow? Only time will tell.