Controversial radio personality Don Imus has granted his first interview, since being fired in April, to Barbara Walters.
During the interview, Imus fully discusses his reactions to what has happened to him since leaving broadcasting, after his racially charged comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team.
Imus' new radio show, "Imus in the Morning," debuted Monday morning on Citadel Broadcasting Corporation stations across the country. Imus added two black comedians to his cast who were introduced on the show, Karith Foster and Tony Powell.
When asked by Walters whether this decision was made out of guilt, Imus replied, "No, I thought it was an opportunity to diversify the cast."
"Anybody who is on our program is there because they are funny or smart," he added. "I suddenly find myself now in this unique position to present a better program — to never ever say anything that would ever make these young women — or anybody else — regret that they forgave me, and that they accepted my apology."
"Most programs are so ratings driven, people are so cowardly and terrified," Imus said. "And people don't want to have this conversation about race relations, so, out of this idiotic thing that I said, a lot of good can come, because I'll have a huge audience and an enormously influential audience."
Now that he has a new radio show, will he be more cautious?
"Well, in my view, for example, Vice President Cheney is still a war criminal, and Hillary Clinton is still Satan," he said. "And I haven't changed."
"Are we going to have a kinder, gentler Don Imus?" Walters asked.
"Well, I don't think so, no," he replied.
When asked whether the Rutgers' team members were "furious" with him during their meeting, Imus replied that they were "hurt."
"The coach and I talked for hours," he told Walters. "It took a while for everybody to get down to talk about how they felt. I told them about who I was and what my life was about, but I could see that I wasn't getting through."
"This had so much impact on them, because it was made such a huge deal. I had people say to me, 'Well, if the news media hadn't have blown it up, if Rev. Al hadn't have done that. …' I said, 'nonsense.'"
"The point was, it got to the point where they were, in fact, distraught about it. One of the kids said it's heartbreaking, one of the kids said to me, 'you know, it's just so upsetting.' I just kept thinking over and over again, 'thank God that I'm here and I'm here because I want to be here. I'm not here just trying to save my big time job.'"
Imus said the women told him how they felt, and he "got the message."
When asked whether the women were glad that he was fired, Imus said they weren't, but that "I think that what happened is probably what should have happened."
"The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2007" also includes interviews with sexy Spice Girl Victoria Beckham; her soccer superstar husband, David Beckham; former President Clinton; MySpace media moguls Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe; Emmy Award winner Katherine Heigl; pop superstar Justin Timberlake; and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson. The No. 1 most fascinating person of 2007 will be announced on the program.