CBS fired Don Imus from his radio program Thursday, the finale to a stunning fall for one of the nation's most prominent broadcasters.
Imus initially was given a two-week suspension for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" on the air last week, but outrage continued to grow and advertisers bolted from his CBS radio show and its MSNBC simulcast.
"There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society," CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in announcing the decision. "That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision."
Sheila Johnson, owner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics and, with her ex-husband Robert, co-founder of BET, called Imus' comments reprehensible in an interview with The Associated Press. She said she had called Moonves to urge that CBS cut all ties with the veteran radio star, and was worried that what he said could hurt women's sports.
"I think what Imus has done has put a cloud over what we've tried to do in promoting women's athletics," she said.
Bryan Monroe, president of the National Association of Black Journalists and vice president and editor director of Ebony and Jet magazines, met with Moonves on Wednesday. It seemed clear Moonves and his aides were struggling with a difficult decision, he said. He urged them to take advantage of an opportunity to take a stand against the coarsening of culture.
"Something happened in the last week around America," Monroe said. "It's not just what the radio host did. America said enough is enough. America said we don't want this kind of conversation, we don't want this kind of vitriol, especially with teenagers."
Rutgers' team, meanwhile, appeared Thursday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" with their coach, C. Vivian Stringer.
At the end of their appearance, Winfrey said: "I want to borrow a line from Maya Angelou, who is a personal mentor of mine and I know you all also feel the same way about her. And she has said this many times, and I say this to you, on behalf of myself and every woman that I know, you make me proud to spell my name W-O-M-A-N. You've really handled this beautifully."