Flashback: Obama Calls for MSNBC to Fire Imus for 'Hateful' Remarks

Flashback: Obama Calls for MSNBC to Fire Imus for 'Hateful' Remarks

In April of 2007, Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama said MSNBC should fire Don Imus for remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, saying they were “hateful” and “coarsening the culture” while making his daughters feel less than others.

Imus referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hos” on April 4, 2007 and was fired on April 12, the day after Obama called for his firing. 

MSNBC, though, has yet to discipline MSNBC host Martin Bashir for suggesting someone should urinate and defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth last Friday. President Barack Obama, who accused Republicans of waging a “war on women” during the 2012 campaign, has yet to comment on Bashir’s misogynistic rhetoric against Palin.

On April 11, 2007, Guest-host David Gregory asked Obama on Hardball, “Do you think he should be fired?

“I don’t think MSNBC should be carrying the kinds of hateful remarks that Imus uttered the other day,” Obama said. “And you know, he has a track record of making those kinds of remarks. Look, I’ve got two daughters who are African-American, gorgeous, tall, and I hope at some point are interested enough in sports so that they get athletic scholarships.”

Obama said he and his wife “every day are reinforcing our love for them and how special they are. I don’t want them to be getting a bunch of information that somehow they’re less than anybody else, and I don’t think MSNBC should want to promote that kind of language.”

Gregory then asked, “So he should be off the air, off of MSNBC and off of CBS, off the air completely, in your judgment?”

“Ultimately, you guys are going to have to make that view,” he said. “He would not be working for me.”

Obama said Imus’s comments went “beyond race” and “obviously, what this reveals is that we still have a host of racial stereotypes that are out there, and that we are fast loose in playing with those racial stereotypes and bandying them about and thinking that there aren’t going to be any consequences to it. And that’s a problem.”

“But I also think there’s a broader problem of a coarsening of the culture, where we think that it’s entertainment to insult people,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s that funny, and I think that we need to think about how are we promoting tolerance and how are we promoting intelligent debate, and that’s not been the trend in too much of our media. That’s something I think that we’ve all got to think about.”

Obama said he went on Imus’s show once to promote his book and said he “would not” go on the program again. 

“I was on there once, actually, after the Democratic national convention. I spoke about my book briefly. That’s been my only experience on the show,” he said. “And he was fine when I was on that show. But I don’t want to be an enabler or be encouraging in any way of the kind of programming that results in the unbelievably offensive statements that were made just a few days ago.”

Although Democrat Dee Dee Myers, the first female White House press secretary, suggested that Bashir should be fired, the women of MSNBC, who have been all too eager to further the “war on women” stories Democrats have wielded against Republicans, have been silent, as Breitbart News reported. 

In an exclusive letter obtained by Breitbart News, Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, wrote NBC News President Deborah Turness and MSNBC President Phil Griffin and asked what action the network would take against Bashir, specifically mentioning MSNBC’s firing of Imus. 

The letter notes that the network disciplined Alec Baldwin last week by suspending his show for two weeks for anti-gay remarks made off the air and notes MSNBC has set a precedent of firing and disciplining other anchors for “offensive language” on the air, as Breitbart News reported. 

“You fired Don Imus for offensive language in describing the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team, you suspended Alec Baldwin, and yet nothing has happened to Mr. Bashir,” the letter reads. “Are we to assume then, that disciplinary procedures at your network take place based on the target of the remarks rather than the remarks themselves?”

The letter concludes by saying, “Americans deserve to know that your network doesn’t condone violent and hateful rhetoric directed at anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or political persuasion.”

Bashir apologized on Monday, saying his remarks were “wholly inappropriate” and “offensive.” Palin canceled a sit-down interview with Today show host Matt Lauer for the network’s inaction on the matter.