April 11, 2007— -- In an interview with ABC News Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., called for the firing of talk radio host Don Imus. Obama said he would never again appear on Imus' show, which is broadcast on CBS Radio and MSNBC television.
"I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus," Obama told ABC News, "but I would also say that there's nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude."
Obama said he appeared once on Imus' show two years ago, and "I have no intention of returning."
Last week, Imus referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team, most of whom are African-American, as "nappy-headed hos." He has since apologized for his remarks, and CBS and MSNBC suspended his show for two weeks.
"He didn't just cross the line," Obama said. "He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women -- who I hope will be athletes -- that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It's one that I'm not interested in supporting."
Though every major presidential candidate has decried the racist remarks, Obama is the first one to say Imus should lose his job for them.
His proclamation was the latest in an ever-expanding list of bad news for Imus.
Sponsors, including American Express Co., General Motors Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., and Staples Inc. -- have announced they are pulling advertisements from the show for the indefinite future.
Tuesday, the basketball team held a press conference.
"I think that this has scarred me for life," said Matee Ajavon. "We grew up in a world where racism exists, and there's nothing we can do to change that."
"What we've been seeing around this country is this constant ratcheting up of a coarsening of the culture that all of have to think about," Obama said.
"Insults, humor that degrades women, humor that is based in racism and racial stereotypes isn't fun," the senator told ABC News.
"And the notion that somehow it's cute or amusing, or a useful diversion, I think, is something that all of us have to recognize is just not the case. We all have First Amendment rights. And I am a constitutional lawyer and strongly believe in free speech, but as a culture, we really have to do some soul-searching to think about what kind of toxic information are we feeding our kids," he concluded.
Clayton Sandell contributed to this report.