Imus Puts His Reputation In Crisis, Again!
According to the Associated Press, Don Imus said Tuesday morning on his radio show that he was trying to “make a sarcastic point” with his latest on-air remarks about race, but that they had been misunderstood. Imus resurrected his radio career six months ago with a pledge to mend the wounds caused by a racist and sexist comment he made about a women’s basketball team.
On Tuesday he said he was following the spirit of that promise by calling attention to the unfair treatment of blacks – in this case the arrests of suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones.
“What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason,” Imus said Tuesday. “I mean, there’s no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once.”
He called the flurry of criticism surrounding the comments “ridiculous” and said that his program’s cast is now more diverse than ever – and includes a black producer and two black co-hosts, a man and a woman.
“How insane would I have to be? What would I be thinking?” Imus wondered aloud.
The latest comments by Imus to come under scrutiny were aired on Monday’s broadcast. During a conversation about Jones’ run-ins with the law, Imus asked, “What color is he?” Sports announcer Warner Wolf said Jones , formerly known as Pacman, is “African-American.” Imus responded: “There you go. Now we know.”
The on-air exchange came months after Imus’ return to work on a new show on WABC-AM following his firing from MSNBC and CBS Radio for calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.”
When he returned to work, Imus gave a lengthy on-air apology and pledged to use his new show to foster an open dialogue on race relations.
And when the first ratings’ period since his return last December on ABC Radio Network was reported in April, it showed he was no longer the audience magnet he was in his previous run.
The winter Arbitron survey in New York showed the new Imus in the Morning on WABC-AM ranked 20th among listeners aged 25 to 54. Its share of 1.5 percent was a 17% drop from the morning show it replaced.
Imus also wasn’t racking up the ratings he had on the all-sports’ station in New York that cut ties with him after the Rutgers’ embarrassment, WFAN-AM.
But Imus was must-listening again Monday and Tuesday – Monday for the tape of his latest utterance that offended plenty of people, and Tuesday for his clumsy defense and explanation of what he’d said.
THE REPUTATION DOCTOR’S ANALYSIS AND ADVICE
I was a guest on CNN’s Headline News on Tuesday evening to discuss the current Don Imus racial crisis. His recent comments have put his reputation back in the court of public opinion and, once again, he has splashed mud on his own face. With our T.V. analysis, we also received viewer phone calls from across the country. Two of the callers seemed to be racist with their comments. Caller Paul from Little Rock, Arkansas said, “I agree. I like what he said. Let’s look at statistics. Let them speak for themselves. Bill Cosby stood up and said hey here’ what these young men are about. I don’t think he is a racist. I think he pointed out what a particular race will do. I think in our country.. I don’t think a black man is a minority.”
Caller Jeremy from Hawaii said, “If Imus was black would we be having this discussion? If not, then isn’t it racial profiling to single him out because of his skin?”
I was then asked to comment and I said,”there are still some in our country that have racist thoughts. And I think we just heard two callers who are leaning that way and that is a sad thing today in America!”
In my opinion, I think Imus had a combination of two things working here:
- An old habit of making inappropriate remarks that is hard for him to break.
- A void of information, which I talk often about in reputation management.
If Imus was so concerned and outraged about the plight of blacks being arrested “for no reason,” which were his words, why didn’t he say that clearly the first time? It sounds to me like spin. It sounds to me like stretching of the truth. It sounds to me like a slippery slope. It sounds to be like a lie!
I also mentioned in my CNN Headline News interview that if Imus was trying to make a point of blacks being arrested inappropriately, Imus picked the wrong poster child with Pacman Jones! Pacman, who suddenly wants to be known by his given name of Adam, also threw mud on his own name and reputation. Pacman can’t blame the police for being arrested 6 times within 2 years of playing professional football. His crimes were so bad the NFL made him sit out the entire 2007 season. Pacman Jones is not a poster child for racial profiling by police. Pacman Jones is the poster child for professional athletes who do the wrong thing, not the right thing! Both Imus and Pacman have learned a very important lesson the hard way. The lesson is their reputation are everything and it is impossible to repair your reputation when you are stuck in the mud of denial. Sadly, both Imus and Pacman are still drowning in that self-imposed mud today.
Remember, do the right thing when your reputation is in crisis and seek the counsel of an experienced reputation management expert. It will be a major challenge, but ultimately the rewards of repairing your reputation will be great. Why? Because Your Reputation Is Everything!™