|WASHINGTON, D.C. - October 7, 2009 -- The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will monitor radio commentator Don Imus' return to the air as part of the Fox Business Network.
Imus returned to the national stage Monday, two years after insensitive and racist comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team led to his firing from CBS Radio and his program being dropped from MSNBC after 11 years of simulcasting. NABJ led the charge in calling for his firing, and Imus eventually apologized for the comments.
"Don Imus has a right to work, and ultimately the public has the right to decide if it wants to listen to him and support him," said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times.
NABJ received assurances from Fox Chairman Roger Ailes in 2007 that the network abandoned efforts to sign the "shock jock" and moved to distance itself from Imus. Fox reversed its position by signing Imus in September.
Fox Business Network senior vice president Neil Cavuto recently told U.S. News & World Report, "I am no more in control of Don Imus than a lab professor is with a broken vial of a deadly mutating virus."
Imus' first guest on Monday was African-American author Debra Dickerson, who is known for writing a controversial essay that said then-presidential candidate Barack Obama wasn't really black. Imus also invited Fox commentator Glenn Beck on this show. Beck attracted attention on his Fox News show for labeling President Barack Obama a racist.
"I am disappointed that Don Imus did not seek to make his first show on the Fox Business Channel fair and balanced," said NABJ Vice President of Broadcast Bob Butler.
Media commentator and NABJ's immediate past Media Monitoring Committee Chairman, Eric Deggans, wrote in his Monday column that diversity is clearly not a part of the new Imus image.
"Despite Imus' much-ballyhooed addition of two black performers to his crew in December 2007, the all-male team on the air this morning was middle-aged and white," he wrote.
NABJ stands side-by-side with many other organizations that protect women and minority representation in the media by calling for an end to incendiary commentary that promulgates racist and sexist attitudes in society.
An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, with more than 3,200 members, and provides educational, career development and support to black journalists worldwide.