April 9, 2007 -- Radio talk show host Don Imus said this morning that he wanted to meet with members of the Rutgers women's basketball team to apologize in person for comments he made on air last week.
"These women don't know who I am," Imus said today on his syndicated radio show. "They don't know if I'm on a right-wing diatribe or I was drunk."
On his show Wednesday, Imus was talking to producer Bernard McGuirk about the NCAA women's championship game when he said of the Rutgers team, "That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that."
The next day, Imus downplayed the comments, saying it was "some idiot comment meant to be amusing."
By Friday, however, amid a gathering storm of outrage, he offered this apology: "It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry."
It's an apology many people have rejected.
"It's really stunning to me that you can say these things and keep your job," said Christine Brennan, a USA Today sports columnist and ABC News consultant.
For years, Imus and his show have been criticized for racial remarks that many think cross the line. Just last month his show was denounced by some for an impersonation of poet Maya Angelou by a producer.
"Who was that woman you used to do, the poet?" Imus asked a producer on the show. "We used to get in all that trouble every time you'd do her."
"That's right," the producer said, before doing an impression of Angelou: "Whitey plucked you from the jungle; for too many years took away your pride, your dignity and your spears."
Times Have Changed?
Leaders in the black community, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, say Imus is a racist and should be fired.
"I am not one that feels this can just go away without us establishing a serious precedent that enough is enough," Sharpton said.
Imus is scheduled to appear on Sharpton's radio show this afternoon.
Sharpton and others have likened Imus' latest comments not to social satire but to offensive remarks aimed at black athletes in the 1980s.
Dodgers vice president Al Campanis resigned under pressure after comments he made on ABC News' "Nightline" in 1987.
"Why are black men or black people bad swimmers? Because they don't have the buoyancy," Campanis said on the program.
And in a shocking instance in 1988, then-CBS sports analyst Jimmy the Greek said, "The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way."
Those comments were made close to 20 years ago, and times have changed in terms of what is acceptable on-air commentary.
But many wonder whether the times are really that different. The answer may be revealed in what happens to Imus.
"Campanis had to go. Jimmy the Greek had to go," Sharpton said.
This morning on his show, Imus continued to say he had no excuses.
"I'm not a bad person, I'm a good person, but I said a bad thing," he said, "but these young women deserve to know it was not said with malice."