How Don Imus’ Firing Can Help Your Career


Unless you work for yourself and your business becomes an overnight sensation (ie: YouTube, MySpace), it takes years and years to build your reputation and success in what you do. Don Imus has spent the majority of his life building his radio personality career and has recently signed a 5 year, $50 million contract with CBS. As most of you have probably already heard, his most recent comments last Wednesday where he referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team (who just lost in the NCAA national championship game to Tennessee) as a bunch of “nappy headed hoes”. The following day on his show, Imus In The Mornings, he went on to say, “I don’t understand what the problem is, really.” It was an “idiot comment meant to be amusing.” Obviously, these racist comments sent controversy all over the air waves.

Many people, lead mostly by prominent African Americans like Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and Tony Dungee called for Imus’s firing. MSNBC, who picks up a TV version of his radio show, immediately fired Don Imus. CBS began discussion about what to do with his radio show, which accounts for over $15 million in annual revenue for CBS. Proctor and Gamble and General Electric, along with other big companies dropped their sponsorship agreements with CBS costing them even more money. Finally yesterday it was announced that Don Imus would be fired from his radio show.

How Does This Apply To Your Career

There are some valuable lessons to learn from this incident.

  1. Even when you’ve made it to the top, never stop working at keeping your reputation clean.
  2. Be constantly aware of the circumstances you are in. Constantly assess your surroundings.
  3. Always act with the utmost professionalism when on the job.
  4. When political games are being played, it is best to stay as far away from them as possible.
  5. When someone evokes a deep negative emotional reaction in you, DO NOT react immediately. Go back to your office and think it through before reacting. Sleep on it if you have to.
  6. When you make a public mistake, admit it right away and offer a sincere, genuine apology.

What do you guys think of Don Imus’ comments and firing? Do you think he deserved to be fired over one comment? You can let us know in the comments below.

30 thoughts on “How Don Imus’ Firing Can Help Your Career

  1. I have never done anything that stupid, but I have often said things that I wished I had toned down a bit. Being aware of it is one thing, but being able to reign yourself in takes a little practice….

  2. You live by your words, you die by your words . . that’s the life of a shock jock . . . the one’s that make $10+ mil a year are the ones that ride that fine line to success . . . it was just imus’ turn to fall . . . . I don’t feel sorry for him, I’m not thankful he’s off the air . . . i just don’t care about him

  3. I agree with Gary. Don’t really care.
    It seems like there’s always someone trying to be more controversial than the next guy so they can get a piece of the pie.
    And every once in awhile, someone gets that pie in the face.

    1. haha…yup, I’d say that pie pie was made out of horse dunn because you know he has a nasty after taste!!!

  4. The comments that Imus made were not appropriate to say the least. However, if what he said should lead to the outcome that it has, then there are a lot of music artists that should not have their songs on the air and that many advertisers should not use them to hawk their products.
    Imus lost his job because of the image it would present for his backers and thus potential monetary loss as well.
    Remember when Whoopie Goldberg made comment about Bush and it cost her commercial endorsments. Same thing , different time.

  5. Personally, I’m glad Imus is off the air: his show was crude at best, hateful often. But this situation is unbelievably stupid. Two reasons: first, what he said was only offensive because he was a white male. That’s an entire generational problem there.
    Second, and more important, how tragic is it that we would allow someone to spew filth on the airwaves for so long, but then take them off over three words? Isn’t it terrible that we judge people not based on what they actually stand for, but on one little turn of speech? I am increasingly disgusted by the liberal practice of digging a pit for someone because of a word. This is not how we should discuss our lives.
    Imus should be gone because his show was disgusting, not because of one single comment.

    1. i really think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back . . . ok fine . . it was a tree trunk . . . .but from what I heard, a lot of people didn’t like imus already and this gave them the perfect opportunity to really bury him

  6. It bothers me a little how much ’so what’ is out there after someone this visible makes a racist comment. I’m not even going to bother putting obviously inappropriate on the front of that – it’s unnecessary. We really don’t appear to have come very far since the 1950s, and everyone floating out there saying so what and I don’t really care, well, I hope someday you do.
    I mean calling a group of college students nappy headed whores? Excuse me? I’ve usually not been exposed to racism, being white, but somehow white racists know I’m not like them and keep it to themselves – maybe there’s a secret handshake or something, but I didn’t see it much, until, that is, I was talking to a black co-worker when a package delivery guy insulted her for writing her name instead of signing her name. I’ll jump out there and judge this guy – I’m betting if it had been our pretty white secretary he wouldn’t have been insulting her for writing instead of signing.
    I suspect there are a lot of white americans out there who just don’t know how much racism is out there, because they don’t even know any black people.
    There is, as of 2004, still a town in Florida that is completely segregated.
    Wake up white america. We shouldn’t be apathetic about this, and we shouldn’t be agitated only because it is politically correct, and we shouldn’t excuse some absolutely racist comment merely because someone is a “personality,” and not somebody who “counts” whatever that may mean. Tolerating racism when you see it is condoning it.
    Keep in mind this wasn’t some other celebrity Imus was commenting on, these were female athletes who had not asked for his comments, engaged him on any level, or had any reason to be a valid target for his insipid mouth, racist or not. Think about that the next time you’re walking down the street and want to yell at someone and randomly abuse them (If you do that kind of thing, which I don’t think you do).

  7. I am Native,
    I know what Imus said was shocking, well these grils you know, they listen to more shocking things than imus could ever say.They like the rap that degrades them ,they date boy’s with their pants that hang down to their asses,and wear rags on their heads..Will now its just shocking because a white man said something, wow! I thank him! only for free speach.
    When I would go to work in the moring I would hear a black radio show talk bad about whites, and it was funny to all the black listener’s.Black comics talk of whites all the time FUNNY.When imus said what he said at the end of his words were “BUT THIER CUTE THOUGH”
    That part of his words made me think he knew he had made a shocking remark, and was trying to say “i am not races”..Fox, Cnn, have been trying shut up anyone so they can get out thier propaganda out, blow up our world with Bush.Trying hard to stop free speach. So they can make us think all those people want to kill us, they did this with my people also, so they could displace us and take our land we were so bad we had to be put away on reservations to go hungry…
    All of you on these news shows have Bushy heads ,and nappy heads are no were near as bad as” A BUSHY HEAD ”
    One thing I want to say, there is so many bad action’s by these rapper’s, and so many black, and white children that think this hood rap is good. They act it out in the street ,at home. The News never talks about it, becuse their bosses make big bucks off the backs of these poor kids.
    Babies don’t know thier daddies and there are no good love songs by blacks any more to help our kids feel good.The blacks play into these nasty song’s .I want free speach ,but showing girls shaking thier asses, half dressed ,and boys wearing pants down thier asses is not apart free speach ,its drity looking, and when they rap about it get’s dirty dirty.If they want to rap about sex ,I know in my heart they can find a better way.
    The NEWS also will trash anyone ,they make shore they say it the way they want you to hear it.They help the war to go on and on ,its news money news,is it free speach or porpaganda just like rap music.

  8. Personally, I feel like I missed something.. I have never been under the impression that the words “nappy” and “ho” were racist at all. It seems to me that they’re “racist” because Al Sharpton *says* they’re racist. But maybe that’s just because I’m white, right? That is all…

  9. I’m not sure how I feel about old Imus getting the can, but I wanted to say that I’ve read about it in a ton of blogs and this is the first I’ve seen someone use the incident to make people think about their own professional choices. Great write!

  10. What Imus said was clearly not correct. If being fired is the action to be taken in such circumstances, then there are many singers/rappers and comedians etc. who should also be fired or their material not carried by networks etc.
    Some form of corrective action needed to be taken. I think what happened was as much an issue of money and potential loss of future money to the firms and corporations who are connected with him. I am no laying blame with them for we as the public have asked for corporate accountability on many levels.
    Whoopi Goldberg felt the sting of such action when she lost endorsements etc., after her Bush comment.
    While Imus should have used better judgement, criticism of what was said should not stop with him. Lessons can be learned here and other “artists” should take heed.

  11. Yes! I do think he should be fired over that comment and because he said it so easily shows he was not concious of his surroundings it was not the first time that he has made that comment. This time it just was’nt said with the rest of his buddies that agree with him because that’s the way some people think.Furthermore comedians use that material to make people laugh and people have that right not to buy their tickets and go just like you have that right not to sit in the front rows knowing that they will crack on you and use you for material, that net work has that same right to fire him.The position you hold determines what,where and when you can speak and on what. Yes! Whoopi Goldberg did lose her position and No we were’nt surprised that Whoopi was used as an example since this industry should be colored blind then it’s only right that he loose his too.If you live by the sword then you truly will die by the sword.

  12. I am not a Don Imus fan. I have heard him several times, but wasn’t impressed. With that said, I think that this country is totally out of control. I would like to know the exact words that were said (or thought) by the 2 reverends when they heard about the incident. I bet you a months pay that they were “racist” in their reaction. Racism isn’t going to go away by people making threats. What is in your heart will eventually come out.
    We are all guilty of racism (please let’s be honest) at one point or another in our life. Some need to work harder than others to avoid being racist.
    Honestly folks, ranting and raving will not stop racism. It has to be an individual choice that we “practice” (with the occasional failure).
    I don’t think any “group” of people need to have “intimidators” to force change on other people. Since America is a free country, The free will of the people should ultimately dictate the outcome of any given event.

  13. It was an inappropriate comment, intended to be funny. Comedians say this kinda stuff all the time.
    But Imus didn’t deserve this reaction.
    Seems like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are in business to get people fired for making singular comments that don’t wholly represent the person saying it.
    Imus is a good man.
    And the basketball team.. wow.. Imagine any Men’s team crying because someone called them nappy perverts.
    The larger question is: when will Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton stop villainizing good people for singular mistakes?

  14. Back in the 1950s, a Jewish program on TV dramatised a little girl coming home in tears because classmates called her Jew. A rabbi on this program said, “someday we’ll have things the way we want them and this can’t happen.” That day has come.
    But what’s next? Leno and Letterman can’t make fun of politicians, celebrities and criminals?
    There was a time in America when both free speach and decency prevailed. We’ve lost both now. We’ve also losing morality and our sense of humor.

  15. being in the spotlight, everything you do or say will be scrutinised … he might consider it as a joke but well With that kind of comments he’s asking for it
    goodbye Imus

  16. 1984 has arrived. Don Imas has comitted ‘thought crime’, and big brother got him for it.
    Contrast that with the lacrosse players at Duke University who were arrested, jailed, accused, and persecuted by the minions of the legal system even after the ‘victim’ admitted she had lied, and the incident never happened.
    Where were Jackson, Sharpton, and for that matter, all of you, when that happened?

  17. I quit…Let the Blacks take care of themselves.I will try to avoid any contact with them,though it was not by choice.You can never please the colored people. Wait,Black,wait Afro-American,whatever,just get your politically correct points in school,jobs,everything,we will make it easy for you lazy bastards.You make me sick…..Go on,whine and cry foul…..Piss off…Whitey

  18. The word nappy is unquestionably correlated with blackness. When the word is used pejoritively to mean ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’ that is equating blackness with negativity and is inherently racist. I do not understand people who believe otherwize. Secondly, this comment was increadibly sexist and degrading. Some person above in typical sexist fashion commented that a mens team would never react this way. Well, a mens team would never be reduced to base sexuality. Furthermore, there is nothign about these women’s behavior that would warrent that type of comment. They are not promiscuous women–they are intellegent college students and exceptional athletes. That Imus would reduce them to race and gender negatively pathologizing both is inexcuseable. As for the work of Jesse Jackson and Sharpton, if it werent for individuals like these remarks like this would never be brought to the attention of broader white america who likes to live under the delusion that racisim does not exist. As a prominant race scholor once wrote, whiteness is a ‘narcissistic fantasy’ that can only be overturned with exposure to the virulent and subtle racism that still laces the words and moulds the adjectives used by Americans today. Only good can come out of this type of exposure. Untill whites hold themsevles to the standard of calling out prejudice when seen, black leaders will have to continue to point out that ‘nappy’ is not a synonym for bad, and that women are not all hos. Also, it is irresponsible for the author above to assume that these women listen to rap music with degrating lyrics, or that becuase one smallllllll segment of the population that includes rap artists speak in this fashion that it is ok for everyone to speak in that way. Boxer’s punch people for a living, do you think it is therefore ok to start fistfights on the street? Please dont let a subset of the commuity who most middleclass blacks take offense with speak for the respectable college girls that were so inhumanely debased.

  19. The english language with its double, triple, multiple meanings can obviously jerk people’s emotions big time… misunderstood rhetoric can even cause wars. Because Don Imus made a mis-statement in a parochial environment doesn’t mean that the rest of the world knows or cares what was said. The word “ho” according to the dictionary means a call for attention…ho ho ho ..Santa uses it all the time at Christmas. I guess in a certain ethnic setting it can be construed to mean “streetwalker”…who knows…I certainly don’t. Then we have nappy-headed…a napkin or kerchief used to keep sweat or hair out of ones eyes…workers and bikers do it all the time..and a hoe is an implement used to help dig soil for gardens for example. So, from my perspective Imus could have been paying the basketball team a compliment…in other words …a very diligent hard working group of athletes…ready to” dig in there” with a great deal of effort.This narrative may seem simplistic and an attempt to excuse a supposedly inappropriate comment, however, it is another point of view and at times we all have to see out of the box.

    1. Your response epitomizes the most unconstructive response of white americaand you put the reasonable majority of whites to shame. If you ask Imus he will tell you he ment WHORE. Nappy had nothing to do with napkins just like Apple has nothing to do with Appitite. I hate to break it to you, but tHey just start with the same three letters. Thats the end of their etymological connection. LIke I said before. Conflating a racial charactaristic with negativity is racist. Please let that be the take home lesson. Just liket o call things ‘gay’ because they are ‘bad’ is wrong–as in, that ugly shirt is so gay, it is wrong to say those girls are ugly, they nappy and whores.

  20. I completely agree with the statements made by Brie and Brian, Imus’ firing was not based solely on this single racist comment-it was just the final straw of inappropriateness. Everyone here is crying about free speech, well that never existed in this country…or perhaps very limited (I am simply describing the situation, not necesarily agreeing). And goddamn that phrase ‘politically correct’ what about ethical and moral correctness. It is alright to think negative things about another race, but identifying the source of the negativity and expressing your views constructively can actually have benefits. Historically what white men said, thought and did toward blacks and other people of color had real repercussions for those demographics. Institutional racism is alive and doing well in the U.S. (check Brian’s above comment about modern day segregation), and is evident by the many negative and derogatory remarks about hip hop. Hip hop is much more than what is portrayed by the mass media. Images of hip hop purported through major media sources purposely reflect a certain version of hip hop that is misogynistic, violent and negative in general. But there is so much hip hop that is uplifting, powerful and positive that is not on television and major radio stations. We must think critically of the images, and content that is spread through the media. Who has access to and control these sources of production….white men…this is related to my earlier comment about free speech. If wealthy white men control our media sources, what exactly is free about what is being broadcasted?

  21. good riddance, he should take Howard Stern, Nancy Grace, Glen Beck and all these other microphone morons with him. Its a sad commentary that these windbags have an audience to begin with. Give me Daily Show or Steven Colbert anytime.

  22. and by the way Sharpton and Jackson the ambulance chasers of the discrimination business GET A ——- LIFE YOU BLOODSUCKING ASSHoles

  23. Yes, Imus should have been fired! He went way too far even if he didn’t know it.
    If Imus had called the wives of nbc or cbs executives Ho’s, it would NOT have taken two weeks to fire him.
    Of course, an apology would have been expected, but he still would not have a job!
    I am glad the nation became enraged, that type of language is totally inappropriate and has no place on the airwaves or the workplace.
    Furthermore, I do not think we should be defining our standards by Rappers; who typically come from troubled communities and are expressing current conditions.
    I do think we should take them to task, including the executives who sign off on that type of music and the radio stations that decide to play denigrating music.
    However, we can’t use that excuse to keep Imus on the air…he should have known better and had a history of insulting people, particularly minorities.
    That should be unacceptable!

  24. I think the best part was during his apology when he was speaking to a woman on the phone and said, “Now you’re just jiving out on me!”
    Yeah, that was the best part of all of this. After he messed up he made it clear that he didn’t care.
    – Scot

  25. First of all as for Imus getting fired? Does he still get the money because of the contract? Plus he’ll get book deals and probably a movie out of all this. In fact, I bet more people know him after this then ever knew him before.
    With that said, let me go on to say this…Racism is not just a white thing. Jesse Jackson actually admitted to spitting in white people’s food when he worked in South Carolina. Is this not a racist thing? I’m not saying any kind of racism is good, it’s not…but we need to make it either bad or acceptable across the board. It you’re black don’t call yourself the N word, if your a woman don’t call yourself the B word, when rappers “sing” the stuff they do, and call their “brothers & sisters” what they do in those songs, then why do they get so angry when a white person says it? If you want respect you need to be respectable. It’s like if you go to church and on Monday you’re at work cussing one of your employees and a church member comes in and sees it, he’ll say well that man is no Christian. You have be who you are, and if you’re black and calling yourself the N word then guess what, others will too. And don’t give me that, we’ll we’re just singing the truth. Peddle that BS somewhere else, you do it to shock the world, and have these young people buy it up because they want to shock their parents or because they think it’s something big to do, like smoking use to be. (if there was a woman out here calling me a b*tch in a song, I don’t think i’d buy it).
    You have to respect yourself before others will repect you.
    As for Sharpton and Jackson, the do need to get a life, but they are just after the Publicity, they don’t care about rights and stuff. Don’t let them fool you into believing they do. If it wasn’t something to keep them in the spotlight, they’d have nothing to do with it.

  26. I am a 21 year old black female. I do not say the N word. I do not refer to women as bitches or hoes and it is GROSSLY irresponsible for you or anyone else to think they can do so simply becuase some ingnorant rap artist fool thinks he can. Grow brain Unlucky and stop trying to look for excuses to legitimize your racism. Since when did society judge its moral development on the actions of rappers? Oh yea, when it became a convienient tool to get a racist out of a jam.
    Racism is not just a black thing, but it affects minority groups more for obvious resons. THe power structure in america is such that the thoughts and actions of the white ruling class have dispropotionate effects. It is so fresturating to have to speak these obvious truths in blogs such as these but since the unknowlegeale masses refuse to read a simple introductory volume to american racial dynamics or, i dunno,open their eyes and view the country they live in, I feel compelled to have to do this. Please try to locate the source of your desire to excuse Imus. Is it becuase you fear the same will happen to you? No one thinks he is a terrible human being on the basis of this comment alone. Every single person is racially prejudiced ins ome way, and at times it slips out. But for him to be so basically irresponsible is inexcusable and it is an excellent example for the rest of us to critically evaluate the things we think and say. Please excuse my typos. Im late for class.

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