A lawyer for Don Imus said Friday that the former radio host’s bosses could have edited the on-air comments that got him fired — and that the fact that they didn’t meant they saw his remarks as routine for his often-provocative show.
Attorney Martin Garbus told ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” that CBS Radio and MSNBC had delay buttons but didn’t use them when Imus made racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team last month.
“That means CBS and MSNBC both knew the language that was going out, and both knew the language complied with (Imus’) contract. ... It was consistent with many of the things he had done,” Garbus said.
CBS Radio owns Imus’ former home radio station, WFAN-AM, and MSNBC simulcast the program on cable television.
An MSNBC spokeswoman contradicted Garbus’ claim, saying that the broadcast aired without a delay and that there was no opportunity to delete his comments. Allison Gollust said MSNBC would not respond to any of Garbus’ other remarks.
A CBS Radio spokeswoman, Karen Mateo, said Friday she would not respond to Garbus’ comments.
Imus, 66, was dismissed April 12 after describing the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” on his nationally syndicated radio program. He was barely three months into a five-year, $40 million contract with CBS, and his attorney has said Imus would sue for the contract’s unpaid portion.
Garbus has suggested that a settlement is possible but said Friday that no discussions for a deal were planned. Imus will seek $120 million in unpaid salary and damages from CBS, he said.
A day earlier, CBS Radio said it would vigorously contest Imus’ planned lawsuit.
“We terminated Mr. Imus for cause,” CBS Radio said in a statement. “Based on the comments in question and relevant contract terms, we believe that the termination was appropriate and CBS would expect to prevail in any attempt by Mr. Imus to recover money for his actions.”
Garbus cited a contract clause in which CBS acknowledged that Imus’ services were “unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial.” The clause said Imus’ programming was “desired by company and ... consistent with company rules and policy,” according to Garbus.