Don Imus shot back at his critics today over controversial comments he made yesterday about NFL star Adam "Pacman" Jones, saying on his radio show that he used sarcasm to make a point about the unjust persecution of African-Americans when it comes to law enforcement.
Though some construed the remarks as derogatory toward blacks, the radio host was unapologetic.
"I know there are some people who want to get me, but you not are going to get me for this. This is ridiculous," Imus said.
Imus tried defining his remark about the Dallas Cowboys cornerback after his on-air comments Monday ignited a flurry of criticism. Sports announcer Warner Wolf and Imus were discussing Jones' multiple arrests when Imus asked, "What color is he?"
Wolf replied, "He's African-American."
"Well, there you go. Now we know," Imus said.
Today Imus said his latest remarks were misunderstood and that he was trying to "make a sarcastic point."
"Obviously, they are picking on him. So I asked Warner what color he was. Well, obviously, I already knew what color he was," Imus said today. "What people should be outraged about is they arrest blacks for no reason. There was no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but I mean everyone does something once."
He added that Jones was "a lovely kid."
The talk show host found himself in similar position in 2007 when he referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" April 12. The statement and the enormous backlash that followed forced MSNBC and CBS radio to fire Imus.
The object of this week's remarks has expressed dissatisfaction with Imus's statement.
"I'm truly upset about the comments," Jones said after a reporter played Imus' comments on tape for him Monday night. "Obviously, Mr. Imus has problems with African-Americans. I'm upset, and I hope the station he works for handles it accordingly. I will pray for him."
A History of Troubled Race Relations
When the Citadel Broadcasting Corp. brought the cantankerous Imus back to the airwaves Dec. 3, the radio host promised to promote a healthy and healing dialogue about race.
Imus acknowledged he was painfully aware of his history on race and said that is why he would have to be "insane" to say something deliberately defamatory.
"Nobody, no white man with a radio or television program has had more discussions about race relations since Dec. 3 than I have. We talk about it all the time," Imus said. "I mean, they are looking for something, and there is nothing there."
To bolster his claim that he was not racially insensitive, Imus pointed to the fact his producer and two new co-hosts are African-American.
His on-air cohorts supported him.
"It's like Joe McCarthy in the 1950s witch hunt," Wolf said.
Sharpton Wants Explanation
People have watched Imus carefully since he returned to radio, and at least one critic said he was surprised at the new controversy.
"You think he'd be more careful now. I'm just really amazed that he would be so sloppy with his language or at least not explaining what he means whenever he brings up the topic of race," said Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.
Activist Al Sharpton, who was one of Imus' fiercest critics after the Rutgers incident, said he wanted to hear Imus explain his comments before deciding on action.
"It's clear he brought up race and a reference to race in some form," Sharpton said. "The least we can ask for is some clarity."