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CNN Larry King Live

Imus: Shock Jock Comeback

Aired December 03, 2007 - 21:00   ET


JOY BEHAR, GUEST HOST: Tonight, America's original shock jock is back in business.

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal. Hillary Clinton is still Satan. And I'm back on the radio.


BEHAR: Disgraced Don Imus turns over a new leaf -- or does he?

Now, that he has a second chance, does he deserve it?

The pros, the cons and the controversy -- has Imus really changed and will it last?


Thanks for joining us.

I'm Joy Behar, sitting in for Larry King.

He's on assignment in New Orleans, with Brad Pitt, the lucky stiff.

We're here to talk about Don Imus. For better or for worse, he's back on the airwaves. His return comes less than eight months after his career went down in flames because of remarks he made about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

OK, with me in New York, the Reverend Al Sharpen -- Sharpton.

How could I miss that one?

He helped lead the charge that got Imus booted off the air back in April.

In L.A. Larry Elder, host of the Larry Elder show on KABC Radio.

Also, in L.A. the president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy.

And back here in New York, prominent first amendment attorney Martin Garbus. His clients have included Lenny Bruce, Nelson Mandela, Spike Lee and Don Imus. Before we get into it, let's look at today's Don Imus debut.


IMUS: I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me.


IMUS: and no one else will say anything on my program that will make anybody think that I didn't deserve a second chance.


BEHAR: OK. A very contrite Don Imus today. And predicting that no one is going to get into trouble on his show.

What do you guys think about that?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: I think time will tell. We'll see. I think that what was most, to me, noteworthy was that he said he should have been fired. And I say that because for the last seven months we've had all of his apologists and friends attacking people like Kim Gandy, who was in the meetings with us, for demanding his firing and today he said he should have been fired, which I thought was something that was very interesting. And if I had been one of his defenders, I would have then felt that he removed a page that they had been raising for the last several months.

BEHAR: Well, you thought he should have been fired, too.

SHARPTON: I said that to him. I said it consistently. And it's not about his career. It's about having standards on the airwaves and about people having to write -- consumers having the right to say to advertisers they're not going to pay to be insulted.

You may have a first amendment to say something, but I have a first amendment right to answer you...

BEHAR: Right.

SHARPTON: and I think that's what exercised in the Imus fight.

BEHAR: But he seems very contrite.

Do you think he should he be forgiven at this point?

SHARPTON: I don't know him well enough to know whether he was contrite or not. I don't know if he was acting then or acting now. Time will tell.

I think what was important and is important is that we maintain certain standards that consumers have the right to stand up for. And that's what happened with Imus. His career was not -- still -- this is not about Imus. This was about answering the use of some very misogynist, racist language support by advertising dollars, many of them coming out of the communities that he offended.


And what do you say about that?

MARTIN GARBUS, ATTORNEY FOR DON IMUS: I think that Imus made a very sincere statement today. He indicated -- he said hold me responsible. He said, look at what I do, look at what I say. He says nobody on this show is going to say the kind of thing that was said before. And he said...

BEHAR: How can he predict that, though, Martin?

GARBUS: Well, because he can control it, to some extent. And he says I'm not going to say what I've ever said before.

But I think we ought to, at some level, move past Imus because what the reverend said and what Don said and what I said when this all happened is this is a wonderful chance to talk about race in America. And this is something that should start a discussion about some of the profound issues.

Now, we were talking before we went on the air, the reverend has met with Barack Obama. I have met with him for the first time. I think now, given what's happening in the Democratic primary, one has a right to ask, can a black man be elected president of the United States?

I mean it's time to deal with those issues. I think it's time to deal with the issues of the prisons, which are 40 percent black. I think it's time to the deal with the issues of the schools, where these urban schools have such a lousy education.

BEHAR: So you think that this issue with Imus has really piqued everyone's interest on racism?

GARBUS: Well, I think what happened was as soon as it happened, everybody said now we're going to talk about racism and nobody is talking about it since. I think the reverend is here, I'm here, this is a time to start that discussion...


GARBUS: ...and I think the discussion goes, as I said, to Obama, the things like prisons, jails, why this is a racist country and how you cut out racism.

BEHAR: OK. All right, let's talk about...

SHARPTON: I would...

BEHAR: Imus for a little...


SHARPTON: ...disagree, though.


SHARPTON: I think a lot of discussion has been on race the rest of the year. I think everything from hangman's nooses to Jena -- there's been a lot of discussions about race. I think that what we need to do is start resolving some of these discussions into what we're going to do about it.

I agree with him, it's a bigger picture. And I think when organizations like mine, National Action Network, or NOW or others got involved, that was the bigger picture of sexism and racism that we were about.

The media would like to reduce this to just Imus' career. None of us are involved in Imus' career, other than maybe his attorney.

The issue for us is the general racial climate.

BEHAR: Yes, I agree with you. I just have...

GARBUS: I think there are two issues -- once...

BEHAR: We're going to get to all of that.

But let's talk about Imus for a little while, OK?

GARBUS: I think there are two things. Imus can -- although I am his attorney, I wear two hats.

BEHAR: Yes. You are his lawyer. Right.

GARBUS: But he speaks for himself. I can't speak for him. I thought what he said today was wonderful.

Now, speaking as someone who is concerned about racial issue -- Jena, all of these awful things that happened...

BEHAR: Right.

GARBUS: ...I think you have to look at the larger issues and you have to look at why isn't the federal government doing more for schools?

Why isn't it doing more with dealing with prisons?

And I think the Obama issue now, today, given what's happening in Iowa, is something that really ought to be discussed. Because I said the reverend saw Barack Obama. I met with him. And this is a man who I think ought to be president of the United States.

And the question is, is America prepared to deal with that?


Well, is America happy with Imus, is what we're talking about right this minute.

So let me just go to Kim for a second, from NOW.

Kim, are you there?

KIM GANDY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: I'm right here. And Don Imus' lawyer has done a pretty good job moving the question away from Don Imus already.


BEHAR: I know. It's like I'm trying to tackle him a little bit. But, you know, last April the guy was finished and here he is back with a multimillion contract.

What do you make of all of that?

GARBUS: Listen, I'm not moving it away from him.

BEHAR: Well, you know, it's...


BEHAR: It's interesting.

GANDY: One of the first things that he says is, you know, he should have been fired. But if you go back just a few months, he was suing CBS for firing him and got, according to the news reports, somewhere between $10 million and $20 million out of CBS as a result of being fired. That's not somebody who didn't think he should be fired. He sued over being fired.

Now, I like what he said. I like that he said, you know, he's not ever going to do anything that's going to make these women feel foolish for having forgiven him. But I have a feeling that the 21 second delay Citadel is imposing is going to have a little something to do with that.


OK, let me ask Larry Elder, do you think that he wanted to be fired?


BEHAR: She makes the point that he then sued and made millions on it.

So did he really want to be fired?

ELDER: Joy, if I may, maybe I live in a real parallel universe, but this whole thing, to me, was much ado about very little. Don Imus made an unfunny, inappropriate attempt at humor. He apologized profusely. He went down and apologized directly to the so-called victims of his remark. They forgave him. It should be done. I don't understand why people are so thin-skinned that their self-esteem is tied up into some comment that Don Imus made. For crying out loud, let's move on.

GARBUS: I agree with Larry. And it's not a question of avoiding what Imus did, but Imus took his position. He did what he did. He sued -- and I don't want to get into the lawsuit. That has to do with contractual issues. But the question is, let's move on from Imus and let's deal with the problems that race deals with in this country.

SHARPTON: Well, let me say this...

BEHAR: OK, before you...

SHARPTON: Again...

BEHAR: Can I just...

SHARPTON: ...again, you can't erase the fact...

ELDER: I'm not erasing it...

SHARPTON: ...that even Imus said what he did was reprehensible and he should have been fired. Now whether he is saying something he didn't mean or not, he said it. So, you know, to talk about people being thin-skinned, he said he should have been fired. So let's -- if you're going to close the chapter, close the chapter on what he said. He agreed with what we all said in April. When it started, I was in constant contact with Reverend Soaries, who was the spiritual adviser, who said on the show -- my radio show -- to Imus he should be fired.

BEHAR: OK. As we go to break, let's see what Imus has to say.

Here he is being Imus.

Let's see this.


IMUS: We were in Boston once and we had Mitt Romney on. And I liked him. But I mean I don't know about this Mormon stuff and all of that.

Do they believe in Jesus, do you know?


IMUS: Well, no, I mean not that that that's a, you know -- that's a litmus test with me, certainly. But I'm just wondering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think what's going to happen...

IMUS: Who's their guy?

Is their guy Jesus?






IMUS: Good morning, Senator McCain.

MCCAIN: How are you, my friend?

IMUS: Fine, sir.

How are you?

MCCAIN: Glad to have you back.

IMUS: Thank you.


IMUS: Thank you very much.

Senator Chris Dodd.


IMUS: How are you, first of all?

DODD: I'm doing fine. I'm doing fine. And I tell you, drive time radio has been boring, so welcome home.

IMUS: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're on together.

You know.


Because who do we love more than Imus, honey?


IMUS: Thank you.


BEHAR: OK. You see that Chris Dodd was on today and John McCain.

GARBUS: John McCain was on.

BEHAR: Is it safe for politicians to go back there? GARBUS: Well, that's an interesting issue because...

BEHAR: They're not frontrunners.

GARBUS: ...because he asked those guys questions that other people don't ask. And after they avoided the questions, he just kept going after them. So Imus brings something to the party that is somewhat unique. He went after Dodd, because he said to Dodd, what happens if you finish second or third in Iowa?

Or what happens if such and such happens in New Hampshire, will you drop out?

BEHAR: Right.

GARBUS: And then when he tried to avoid the question, he kept pushing it. And he did the same thing with McCain. So I think that Imus brings to bear a political discussion and a set of interviews that no one else does.

BEHAR: Yes, that's...

GARBUS: When someone like McCain and...

BEHAR: Dodd.

GARBUS: And Dodd and then Doris Kearns Goodwin come on and they say there's no one else who's doing the kind of political talk that he's doing.


GARBUS: And that's important in a political election year.

BEHAR: And, Larry, let me ask you...

GANDY: And it's a problem, too.

BEHAR: Who is that?


OK, Kim.

GANDY: It's Kim. It's a problem that there aren't enough people on television and on radio asking incisive political questions. But in addition to asking incisive questions about issues that ought to be discussed on the radio, he also talks about his extraordinary hatred of Hillary Clinton, which I think works right into this whole discussion, not only of racism, but of sexism.

BEHAR: Well, I mean...

GANDY: And the fact that we see so much of both of them...

(CROSSTALK) GARBUS: A lot of people don't like Hillary Clinton who are not sexist.

BEHAR: Is it necessary to call her Satan?

GANDY: Well, they don't call her the devil.


BEHAR: Really. And to -- and he also said that Dick Cheney is a war criminal.

GARBUS: He calls Dick Cheney a war criminal.

BEHAR: Correct.

GARBUS: That's the way he believes...

ELDER: Yes, and, Joy...

BLITZER: That's what he talks about.

ELDER: And, Joy, that raises...

GARBUS: There's nothing wrong with that.

ELDER: And, Joy, that raises a very interesting question about what are -- what are the rules?

What are the standards?

It's OK for Don Imus to call Dick Cheney a war criminal. It's OK for Imus to call Senator Clinton Satan. But it's not OK for him to make the remarks he made about the Rutgers basketball team.

BEHAR: Well, that's a...

ELDER: Reverend Sharpton has made many offensive statements over the years. He's never apologized for calling the Central Park jogger a whore. He's never apologized for saying...

SHARPTON: Because I never called her that.

ELDER: ...for saying...

SHARPTON: Again...


BEHAR: Wait, wait. One at a time, please.


BEHAR: Larry, one at a time, please.

SHARPTON: First of all, I never called her that. ELDER: Let me finish, reverend.

SHARPTON: second of all, I think that to compare...

ELDER: May I finish, reverend?

SHARPTON: ...a personal attack...

ELDER: Are you going to talk over me or can I finish my statement?

SHARPTON: ...on a person...


BEHAR: One of you -- Larry...


SHARPTON: If you're going to misstate somebody, yes I'm going to talk over you. Because that -- that's not true.

BEHAR: OK, he's denied that he said that.


SHARPTON: And, second of all...


SHARPTON: It's not even about denying it.

ELDER: Reverend Sharpton...

SHARPTON: I think to compare...


BEHAR: You can't -- if you both talk at the...

SHARPTON: Yes, I did. And I...

BEHAR: If you both talk at the same time, no one can hear you.

SHARPTON: And that is a person.

BEHAR: Go ahead.

ELDER: Well, he jumped...

SHARPTON: I think that...


ELDER: Can I finish the statement, reverend? SHARPTON: ...a sexist statement against an entire gender and a race, against an individual attack, is not comparable. I think that when one attacks a politician or a civil rights leader, that's fair game.

BEHAR: And that's free speech.

SHARPTON: To attack a person is one thing. To attack a whole race and a sex is sexist and racist. And I think that...

ELDER: Well, reverend -- Reverend Sharpton, you...

SHARPTON: ...that that is the difference.

ELDER: falsely accused...

BEHAR: Let Larry -- let Larry respond. Let Larry respond.

ELDER: You talk about attacking a person. You false accused Steven Pagones of sexually assaulting Tawana Brawley.



BEHAR: ...Al Sharpton.

ELDER: And you never...


ELDER: And you never apologized.

SHARPTON: And I didn't...


SHARPTON: ...apologize because...


ELDER: It's about standards.


ELDER: It's about Al Sharpton...


SHARPTON: May I respond?

BEHAR: Yes, let him respond.


SHARPTON: I made a statement that the victim accused the person and I stood by that statement. That is not accusing...

ELDER: And you still do.

SHARPTON: ...that's not accusing all white men. He made a statement that was against women and against blacks. Accusing a person that a victim said this person did something to me...


ELDER: He made a statement about a basketball team -- SHARPTON: Again, can I talk?

ELDER: ...reverend.

SHARPTON: He made a statement about women and blacks when he made that derogatory statement. There was no one accusing them young women of a crime, as in the case -- that you're talking about. There was no one accusing them women of anything. So the statement he made...

ELDER: He went down...

SHARPTON: ...he made...

ELDER: He went down...

SHARPTON: ...which he, himself...

ELDER: ...and he spoke directly to the women's basketball...

SHARPTON: ...which he himself now has said...

ELDER: and asked for their forgiveness.

SHARPTON: He spoke to them and they said they forgave him.

ELDER: Right.

SHARPTON: But what he said was reprehensible...

ELDER: He went down to the people...

SHARPTON: ...he said that what...

ELDER: whom he directed the remark, reverend.

SHARPTON: ...was reprehensible and their spokesman said he should be fired.

ELDER: ...he went down...

BEHAR: But, reverend, let me ask you something.

ELDER: the people at whom he directed the remark.

BEHAR: If you say something...


BEHAR: If you say that somebody is guilty of something when they're not, in fact, guilty, isn't that defamation of character?

SHARPTON: First of all -- and you have courts to deal with that. We dealt with that. But he's -- he didn't accuse them of something, of a crime that would be litigated. He accused them of a characterization that was racist and that was sexist and he's admitted that.

BEHAR: So you...

SHARPTON: There's a huge -- if I walk in here and accuse you of stealing a coat in the Green Room, you either did it or you didn't.


SHARPTON: If I walk in here and castigate your gender and your race, that is not accusing you of something that is matter of fact or not fact.

BEHAR: So you're saying it's apples and oranges?

SHARPTON: So to...


ELDER: Reverend Sharpton, what more...


ELDER: ...what more do you want him...


ELDER: What more do you want him to do?


ELDER: What more do you want him to do?

He's done everything

GARBUS: ...want to get into a discussion.


ELDER: What more do you want him to do?

He's done everything but...

BEHAR: Everyone...


BEHAR: Everyone is speaking at once. I can't hear anybody.

ELDER: He's done...


ELDER: He's done everything but donate a kidney.

GANDY: And the reason is...

ELDER: What more do you want the man to do?

GANDY: The reason is that both of the people who are here...

SHARPTON: Well, I haven't asked the man to do anything.

GANDY: Both of the people who are here on behalf of Don Imus keep talking about everything except Don Imus.

SHARPTON: That's correct.

ELDER: You're absolutely wrong.

GANDY: Both of them keep changing the subject...


GANDY: ...either to Al Sharpton...

ELDER: The man has said that he did it...



GANDY: ...or to the issues of the day...


ELDER: I just now say it...

GANDY: ...instead of talking about what actually happened.

ELDER: I just now say it, what more do you want the man to do?

He's apologized to the women at whom he directed the remarks. He apologized to Reverend Sharpton. He's apologized on the air. He's gone down face-to-face. They forgave him.



ELDER: What more do you want him to do?


GANDY: I will tell you what...

SHARPTON: I'll tell you what I want him to do.


SHARPTON: I think that we -- it's not, again...

GANDY: I'll tell you what I want him to do.

SHARPTON: ...what I said from the beginning, it is not about him. It's about having standards on broadcasts that people are not permitted to offend and castigate people's entire race and gender. If he says something about the vice president, whether one agrees with it or not, or Hillary Clinton, whether one agrees with or not, that does not try and blanket their whole gender and race...

BEHAR: Right.

SHARPTON: ...then that's a political, personal opinion.


SHARPTON: That's not what he did.

BEHAR: Wait a minute.

When we come back, we're going to hear what he said about you, Al Sharpton.

SHARPTON: All right.

BEHAR: Stay tuned.


IMUS: Not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal.


IMUS: Hillary Clinton is still Satan.


IMUS: And I'm back on the radio.




IMUS: I don't know what you think of Al Sharpton, but if I'm going to fix somebody to be in a fox hole with, I'm picking Al Sharpton before I pick a lot of them people. I'm not patronizing him, either. I'm just -- I want to know who's in the fox hole with me.


BEHAR: Now, how do you feel about being in a fox hole with Imus?

SHARPTON: Well, I think what he was talking about is that if I'm in something then I'm there and I'm passionate about it. And I am, I mean because I believe in what I'm fighting for -- as we did in this particular case.

But again, I think...

BEHAR: You don't think he was sucking up to you, maybe, to get you (INAUDIBLE)?

ELDER: Yes, that's what he was doing.

SHARPTON: I don't think...


ELDER: He was patronizing Reverend Sharpton.

BEHAR: It's possible.

SHARPTON: I think that...

ELDER: That's what was going on.


ELDER: Look, Reverend Sharpton, he gets his currency by doing -- making white people do the perp walk when they make some inappropriate statement. But if a black person makes an inappropriate statement, somehow that doesn't matter. Charlie Rangel out your way, Reverend Sharpton, in New York, said that the Republican Party -- they don't say blank or blank anymore, they just let's cut taxes. The first blank was a racial slur having to do with blacks. The second blank was a racial slur having to do with Hispanics. So, in other words, any Republican who wants to cut taxes is racist. No apology. No demand for an apology. A very offensive remark.

Where were you then?

SHARPTON: OK. Where I've have been is we've we marched on every record company and rappers. We have marched on blacks that have used the "N" word, "H" word and "B" word. We have a whole decency initiative that's part of the National Action Network.

So we have been the only ones that have physically marched and gone after people for using terms that are offensive, including the terms that Imus has used.

In terms of Mr. Rangel attacking the Republican Party, that sounds political to me. Again, people have the right to make political expressions.

ELDER: It sounds political?

SHARPTON: I think... ELDER: So if you're a Republican...

SHARPTON: Again, I thought your rules were that I could...

BEHAR: My rule is...

SHARPTON: ...that I could respond.

BEHAR: My rule is that when he's speaking, you listen and when he speaks you listen.

SHARPTON: So, again, I think that all of this reaching -- what is interesting to me is that the defenders of Mr. Imus are not even dealing with what Imus said today, and that is that he feels that this is reprehensible and should have been punished. I think that they need to go get their talking points from their martyr.

BEHAR: OK. And I...


BEHAR: Wait a minute. Before we go on...

GANDY: ...promise not to do it again.


GARBUS: I said that what he said...

SHARPTON: You said vote for Obama...

GARBUS: I said...

SHARPTON: ...and we'll settle a race trial (ph).

GARBUS: No, no, no, no.


GARBUS: Cut it out.


GARBUS: I said that what he said is reprehensible, that he said it was reprehensible, that he said I will not say something like that again.



GARBUS: He said nobody on my show will say something like that again.


GARBUS: He said that I gave my word to the women at the school...

SHARPTON: The only problem we had with that is he said...

GARBUS: Rutgers.

GANDY: And that -- and he said...


GANDY: And he said...

SHARPTON: he said that in the past.

ELDER: and I said it was unfunny...


ELDER: And I said it was inappropriate.

ELDER: I'd like to ask Reverend Sharpton...

GARBUS: I want these girls to know...

ELDER: do you feel about Don Imus calling Dick Cheney a war criminal?

GARBUS: ...that I'm going to stick to my word and stick to what I said. So that's what he said today. He can speak for himself. And I thought what he said today was (INAUDIBLE). I think somehow he's just beating a dead horse.

BEHAR: OK. We have another...

GARBUS: He said it.

GANDY: Before we...

BEHAR: Joining us...

GANDY: Before we leave...

BEHAR: wait a minute, Kim. Hold it for a second.

Joining us now is another guest, Patrick Gottsch. This is the CEO of RFD TV, which is simulcasting Imus' radio show on television.

Welcome to the show, Mr. Gottsch.


BEHAR: So...

What's the topic tonight?

(LAUGHTER) BEHAR: Tell us what you were thinking.

GOTTSCH: What are you all talking about?

BEHAR: Well, you know, this is the news today.

What -- tell me why you decided to put Armis...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We needed someone from out of New York to say that.

BEHAR: Yes. From the farmland, yes.

What -- and 25 percent of your viewing audience is into quilting.

I'd like to know, what does Imus have to say to quilters?

GOTTSCH: Well, RFD-TV is a television network for rural America.


GOTTSCH: We're about seven years old. We're in 30 million homes right now.

BEHAR: Thirty million?


BEHAR: But are they all listening?

GOTTSCH: Well, you never know. But we went on a campaign, really, in the last year to upgrade some programming. Our real goal is to connect city and country -- to get city and country communicating again.


GOTTSCH: And we learned -- about a year-and-a-half ago we had to add some programming that -- urban-based program directors with cable companies would recognize and start putting on. So we -- we brought Ralph Emery on last year. Crook & Chase are starting a new show in January. And, of course, Don started today.

BEHAR: How much are you paying him?

GOTTSCH: It's a confidential...

BEHAR: You're not supposed to tell anybody?

What -- several...

GOTTSCH: His attorney can tell you.

BEHAR: We'll just say several million dollars a year?

GOTTSCH: It's -- it's pricey. BEHAR: Really?

So you expect to make a lot of money on this guy.

GOTTSCH: We aren't doing it for the money. We're really doing it to connect city and country and to get into urban-based cable (INAUDIBLE)...

BEHAR: But if he doesn't make any money for the network, are you still not going to do it for the money?

GOTTSCH: We'll be OK.


OK. You guys are so fantastic that we're going to keep you for another segment.

How do you like that?


BEHAR: You too, Larry and Kim.

We'll be right back with more.


DIANE SAWYER: He's back. He is back. Shock jock Don Imus back on the air this morning.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Quite a comeback for a radio talker. Don Imus on the air once again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Radio host Don Imus returned to the air waves this morning, eight months after a racial insult by the Rutgers University women's basketball team got him fired by CBS Radio.



BEHAR: We're back. Patrick, I want to ask you something, what if Imus says something racist again, what will you do then?

GOTTSCH: I couldn't have more confidence that he won't.

BEHAR: But let's just he doesn't. What are you doing to do?

GOTTSCH: There are all kind of hypotheticals. Don Imus is here to stay on RFD-TV. And anybody that watched the show today, that watched Don's 15-minute recap of what he has been thinking and where he goes from here.

BEHAR: He seems remorseful to me. But he also called Cheney a war criminal. How does that fit in? I want to ask you the question, what do you think about that? And what will the farmers think of him calling Cheney a war criminal?

GOTTSCH: I wouldn't censor it either way.

BEHAR: You would not. Listen, I'm a free speech girl.

SHARPTON: He does not mix political statements for what he did.

BEHAR: But let me ask you something.

SHARPTON: He said he made statements before that he apologized for, which is why we said that he was a repeat offender and should be fired, and he was. So this wasn't the first time.

BEHAR: The question is, Reverend, that should he be forgiven at this point? We know he was fired. He's brought back now.

SHARPTON: Forgiven? Anyone should be forgiven. The question is whether they should get amnesty. I think what I said when Imus came to my show, and I said to him and Reverend Soaries and the head of the Congressional Black Caucus said to him on my show, that he should be fired is that forgiveness, go talk to the young ladies. That has nothing to do with whether you should be punished.

BEHAR: Does anyone foresee a moment -- wait a moment, let me ask a question --

GARBUS: The man went to the women and he asked for forgiveness. He apologized. The women accepted it. He didn't do the talk shows.

SHARPTON: He was already fired.

BEHAR: Kim Gandy doesn't accept it. The president of NOW doesn't accept it.


BEHAR: Do you, Kim? Let's get Kim in here for a second.

SHARPTON: Forgiveness does not mean you get amnesty.

GARBUS: I know, so let's look at what happens next.

BEHAR: Let's here what Kim has to do.

GANDY: One of the things that happened as a result of this was that as you said earlier there was a renewed dialogue on race, but there's also a renewed dialogue on gender, on sexism, on misogyny. What it is that's OK to be said on the air and as a result of the work that we all did together, a new coalition formed of organizations predominated by African-American women leaders. And we have been meeting every single meet since last April, a coalition on diversity and dignity for women.

BEHAR: OK, so he opened a dialogue.

GANDY: Absolutely. BEHAR: OK, Larry.

GANDY: You have to make lemonade.

ELDER: We have been having dialogues about gender and about race nonstop. What this has done, once again, is empowered certain people who want to beat up on other people, play the race card, play the victocrat (ph) card and act as if people like black people are eternally offended by something that a talk host says.

Don Imus just referred to Dick Cheney as a war criminal. I dare say he probably meant that seriously. He was not trying to make a joke the way he was with the women's basketball team. Now I don't believe he should be taken off the air for calling Cheney a war criminal but I have to say, I think that's brutal.

BEHAR: I have to cut you off because we are out of time now. So do you have any closing statements, very fast?

SHARPTON: I think that if someone wants to make a political statement, or a statement about any individual in a criminal case, some people believe O.J. Simpson is a murderer. It doesn't make them a racist. But to call a name that is racist and sexist, that is not a fudge of what Mr. Imus did.

BEHAR: What's your closing remark?

GARBUS: Beating and beating and beating. Let's move past this. It is now December 3rd.

ELDER: That's what I'm trying to do.

GARBUS: What Larry said is exactly correct.

SHARPTON: And I will continue to say it's wrong. You're absolutely right, Mr. Elder.

GARBUS: What Larry said is correct and I don't know why you keep beating it. Everybody agrees, he agrees. It was reprehensible. I should have been fired. I'm sorry. I will never say it again. How many public figures --

SHARPTON: Because it's his fault.

GARBUS: How many public figures --

BEHAR: It's his record. It's a very long record.

GARBUS: How many public figures have come forward? Why don't we get off this? How long are you going to play this card?

SHARPTON: You're asking a question and you don't want an answer.

SHARPTON: The card is --

(CROSSTALK) SHARPTON: First of all, if Mr. Imus or anyone else violates a standard, we need to stay on it until those standards are upheld. That's all -- what Ms. Gandy said. That's what we are saying. We will be on that until the standards are followed.

GARBUS: And who are you to define the standards, Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: I head an organization that fights for standards. She heads an organization that fights for standards. There are many organizations who fight for standards. That's who we are.

BEHAR: OK, CNN is an organization that has to take a break. We will be right back.


CHAMILLIONAIRE, RAPPER: Don Imus made comments that made everybody forget about him. That's him, Anna Nicole got pregnant and had kids by him. Rest in peace to Virginia Tech, too many innocent kids dying. Well let's just blame hip-hop and act like that's the big problem. Now I would give you news about Katrina. But you know I can't talk about Katrina. Cause every time I talk about Katrina. They look at me like it's a misdemeanor. Anyways, there's way more important stuff that we can discuss. George Bush is playing golf, everybody hush, he's about to putt



BEHAR: We're back. Got a feisty new panel to continue debating the pros and cons of Don Imus' return to the airwaves.

Here in New York, syndicated radio talk show host Wendy Williams. With her, legendary ad man Jerry Della Femina. He knows Imus personally. Oh, lucky him and one of his clients bought the first ad on Imus's show. In Houston, Grammy winning rap artist Chamillionaire. His new album "The Ultimate Victory" includes a reference to Don Imus.

And back in New York, CNN entertainment correspondent Lola Ogunnaike. Hello, everybody. How are you?

So Wendy, what do you think about all of this? Do you forgive the guy or what?

WENDY WILLIAMS, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Listen, Joy, as a broadcaster working five days a week, four, five hours a day, something is bound to slip out.

BEHAR: So you think we're all capable of making mistakes.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I do know that Imus is a repeat offender. He smacks of sexism and racism. I feel as though the two black broadcasters that he's invited to be a part of his show, in this new incarnation of his show, are to me nothing more than pacifiers for the black community.

BEHAR: What do you think about that, Lola? He has two African- American side kicks. Is that going to help him?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I think they are complete tokens, actually. I don't think they are going to help him in any way. In fact to me it makes him look even more guilty. It's as if he said.

BEHAR: Really?

OGUNNAIKE: Yeah. I have my two black friends here so just in case I say something that may be offensive to this community, I have these two people that I hired on my staff to co-sign what I'm saying. So as long as they chuckle and as long as they say it's OK, then it's fine with the black community.

BEHAR: Do you want to jump in, Jerry?


BEHAR: Go ahead.

DELLA FEMINA: First of all, any conversation where I'm the voice of reason is in a lot of trouble.

BEHAR: That is a little scary.

DELLA FEMINA: Yes, this is scary. Let me say first of all what the reverend failed to say, at one point Isiah Thomas said something really terrible about African American women. And the reverend said, I'm going to go after him. I'm going to follow. We are going to march on Madison Square Garden. Then he said, well, I heard the whole tape so we are not going to march on Madison Square Garden. Well, frankly, there's a whole tape on Don Imus, too. The work he does with children for SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome.

BEHAR: Autism, too.

DELLA FEMINA: The work for Hackensack University Medical Center. The soldiers that he built at Walter Reed for soldiers coming back from Iraq.

That's all forgotten now because he made one statement. You're right, forget it. It's done. He said it. He said he was sorry. He was suspended. So that's why we were so happy, my agency, to advertise and to become his first advertiser.

BEHAR: He also said in one of the tapes that we saw that he is going to really tone it down. Do you think that that is going to just kill him at this point? I mean, he is known as the shock jock. Now he's going to tone it down and he's not going to be saying all of the things that have made him Imus. Is that going to ruin him?

DELLA FEMINA: He can't tone it down. He moves that way. He's the bad little boy in all of us.

BEHAR: But you heard him, no one is going anything like that anymore, I'm not going to say it. You heard that.

OGUNNAIKE: I find that incredibly difficult to believe. In 2001, he said the exact same thing. He said he was going to move away from the racist rhetoric. He was going to clean up his act. And here we are in 2007 talking about the exact same thing.

WILLIAMS: This toned down thing is a five-minute honeymoon phase and then he will be right back being the Imus that he is. Like the reverend said, we will all be watching. As a broadcaster, I'm glad he was able to beat the system and get back this the game in eight months.

BEHAR: You do. Let's go to Chamillionaire in Los Angeles -- in Houston, I'm sorry. What do you think of all of this? You have been in trouble, haven't you, over the years?

CHAMILLIONAIRE: I think everybody agrees that Don Imus should not be like shot execution style for what he did. I heard somebody make a comment earlier where they were saying people with thick skin -- thin skin and we should leave it alone. I feel like people are forgetting the fact that of course, he didn't do something that was super, super bad. But media jumped at it and made it larger than life.

And it's become something that is so big and it's trickled down as a domino effect like to the hip-hop world. Every time I do an interview, I'm forced to Don Imus. In past history, I wouldn't even have known who he was.

WILLIAMS: Immediately when this happened, my radio station, WBLS, we went from a five-second delay to a 40-second delay. You can birth a baby and drive across a country.

BEHAR: Well that happened with Janet Jackson, also, and the boob incident.

WILLIAMS: And we all said thank you Janet for the new standard. Imus, I say, thank you, Imus, for the new standard.

DELLA FEMINA: Everyone should have a 21-second delay.

WILLIAMS: Forty seconds.

DELLA FEMINA: You should walk around life with a 21-second delay. People would never get married, never get into trouble, 21- second delay is a great thing.

BEHAR: Chamillionaire dropped the "N" word from his music, am I right?

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Yes, that's right. But that was a moral decision that I decided to me for me. OGUNNAIKE: Since the conversation became about hip hop and their use of the "N" word and misogyny and all this, really is Don Imus really influenced by what Snoop Dogg has to say? I mean, is he really at home pumping Snoop Dogg? Is he really at home pumping Puff Daddy and Jay-Z.

BEHAR: But there was a parallel situation wasn't it, it was going on at the same time.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: The problem is, there was a real effect.

OGUNNAIKE: He's three times as old as a number of these rappers. He's been on air longer than these guys have been alive. For him to say that he was influenced by these guys to me sounds really ridiculous.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Let me let you all know something. Right now, there's a real effect of what he did. I have yet to see the real punishment of it. I don't think that he should have been fired if there wasn't nothing wrong. The Rutgers girls still have to deal with what he said. It changed their lives. It changed us as rappers.

BEHAR: And they did. We're going to have to a little break. Before we go to break, let's check in with "ANDERSON COOPER 360." What up tonight, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Joy, thanks very much.

Coming up at the top of the hour, seems like everything you thought you knew about the race for president is wrong. It's as close to a seismic shift you can get this early in the game. Some of the campaigns are reeling. Others are celebrating. Tonight we will look at who is where and issues that got them there.

Plus my day on the campaign trail with a rising Republican star of this company, Mike Huckabee.

We're also going to update you on the story of the teenager who took her own life after falling in love, then falling victim to a bogus MySpace page set up by a neighbor no less, grown-up neighbor. Today a prosecutor ruled that that neighbor can be prosecuted. All that and more at the top of the hour, Joy.

BEHAR: Thanks, Anderson and we'll be right back after this break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said what he said, he meant it. That was not his first time, not even his second time. He said it at least a dozen or so times. So I think he shouldn't be back on the air doing any type of commentary. Especially since he's given so many racial remarks against African-Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of worse things said on the air.



CHAMILLIONAIRE: I definitely don't mind him being back on the air. But I just think there was no real punishment. Like he got paid when he got fired. He came back. He's larger than life. And, you know, I feel like there's no real punishment.

BEHAR: He forgives. He forgives.

DELLA FEMINA: A nation that can forgive Rosie O'Donnell can forgive anyone.

BEHAR: What does Rosie O'Donnell do?


BEHAR: Oh, come on. Rosie O'Donnell, what did she do that was so bad. Let's hear what he has to say about that.

DELLA FEMINA: Always saying things about people and she get away with it.

BEHAR: She doesn't say things about race.

DELLA FEMINA: He said it. He said he was sorry.

BEHAR: Yes, we know that. We know that, Jerry.

DELLA FEMINA: The fact is, what can't people understand about this?

BEHAR: Listen, multi-million dollar deals says people forgive him.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: It's OK to say you're sorry, but there has to be some kind of punishment.

OGUNNAIKE: But this is not an isolated incident, Jerry. He said things that were anti-Semitic. He said things that were racist. He said things that are sexist. He said thing that are homophobic.

BEHAR: Lola, he says it's comedy. He says it's comedy. Here's a question for the panel, if it's not funny, is it comedy?

OGUNNAIKE: Michael Richards said what he said was comedy and people didn't find it funny.

BEHAR: So if they found it funny, would he be in hot water?

OGUNNAIKE: Well I don't understand why Don Imus needs to traffic in all of this anyway. I mean, he's supposed to be this high brow intellectual who's able to mix it up with the best and brightest minds that the country has to offer. So why is he always resorting to this low-brow locker room humor?

DELLA FEMINA: Because that is his humor.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Don Imus got paid.

BEHAR: Let's hear what Chamillionaire has to say.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Don Imus got paid. If there was something I could say on CNN said on air that could get me banned from CNN, I could lose my recording contract, get paid the whole time, come back, be bigger then life and get more money, then tell me what it is and I'll say it right now. I will.

WILLIAMS: And that is a very good point, because a lot of the people who prior to this situation that happened to Imus in the past, a lot of people thought that Imus was off the map, never heard of him. Passed away, we heard the comments. Now because of this, his audience is larger than ever.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Larger than life. He is in every major publication. He's all over -- even me, right now, we are promoting Don Imus by being here and this is a guy who the average public in my community would not have known who he was.

BEHAR: By the way, Barbara Walters, my boss, she managed to get the first interview with Imus since he was fired for her special "Barbara Walters Presents the 10 most fascinating people of 2007" because he is a fascinating person. It airs on ABC later this week. Let's see what he told Barbara.


BARBARA WALTERS, ABC HOST: Did you hire these people on guilt?

DON IMUS, RADIO HOST: No, I thought it was an opportunity to diversify the cast. Anybody who is on a program is because they are funny or smart. I suddenly find myself now in this unique position to present a better program, to never, ever say anything that would ever make these young women or anybody else regret that they forgave me and that they accepted my apology.

WALTERS: Now you have a new radio show. So do you have to be more cautious? Are we going to have a kinder, gentler Don Imus?

IMUS: Well, I don't think so, no.


BEHAR: He said no.

DELLA FEMINA: He's honest.

BEHAR: He's honest.

WILLIAMS: I love it. BEHAR: He's able to take on politicians. I think that he has a pass on. He can call Dick Cheney anything he wants. What happens if Obama becomes president? Is there an issue there? Or Hillary, a woman? Does he have to walk on a tight rope now?

WILLIAMS: He will, but he can pass it off to the two African- Americans that he's hired. Two nondescript people. He played it very safe. We don't know either one of these people. I still couldn't tell you their names. I just know they are there, two comedians.

BEHAR: Right. Well Karen (ph) is a comedian, I know her. She used to work at "The View." But what do you think about that, Lola?

OGUNNAIKE: I just don't think much of the two people he hired.

BEHAR: Do you think he's kinder and gentler person? And what is going to happen if Obama is elected president? What is he going to do Jerry, then?

OGUNNAIKE: I think he'll be a kinder, gentler person for all about a week and then he may realize that his audience does not want him to be kinder and gentler. They want the rough and tumble Don Imus.

BEHAR: And then what will happen? Will he be fired again?

OGUNNAIKE: I don't think so. We just heard his boss say that he won't be fired again, which is so interesting to me. This guy is the Teflon Don. I mean, if there's nuclear war, Imus and cockroaches will be the ones that survive.

BEHAR: They said that about Ann Coulter last week. How many times are people going to survive after a nuclear war?

OGUNNAIKE: Ann Coulter, Don Imus and the cockroaches.

DELLA FEMINA: You can say one thing. The girls from Rutgers never heard of Don Imus before that.

BEHAR: Before that.

DELLA FEMINA: They never heard of him.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Don Imus is really winning right now. He's winning and corporations are winning. But there are a lot of other people who are not winning.

BEHAR: Don't you believe that he suffered at all in all of this? Because he seems like he was in pain about it?

CHAMILLIONAIRE: I don't think so. I don't think he suffered at all.

WILLIAMS: I believe he was a bit remorseful. Remorseful at what is he going to do next? Even with all of the money that he had, he still likes the spotlight. He got a great deal with W-ABC. He got a great deal with the TV.

BEHAR: So does that annoy you? Are you envious of that multimillion-dollar deal?

WILLIAMS: As a broadcaster, a black woman? Are you kidding me? It's great to be a white man in America.

BEHAR: What do you say, Jerry, is it great to be a white man in America?

DELLA FEMINA: I'm white? I'm sorry.


DELLA FEMINA: And again, I think the last word on Imus really should be he is going to be Imus. And the one thing you have the greatest sensor in the world, it's your head. And you just turn that station off or don't listen to him.

WILLIAMS: Very good point.

BEHAR: They can always do that.

DELLA FEMINA: That's it. Don't listen to him.

BEHAR: Thank you all very much.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: They can say the same thing about rap then.

BEHAR: They could, they could not listen to rap all they want.

CHAMILLIONAIRE: Right, not buy the CD or change the channel.

BEHAR: The rap industry has gone down somewhat in the past year I understand.

OGUNNAIKE: Clearly Imus listened to rap, because he was influenced by rappers.

BEHAR: Thank you all for being on the show. It was delightful to see you all again. When we come back, we will talk to Larry King about his big interview with Brad Pitt, you lucky stiff.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: This is Larry King. I'm in New Orleans. Specifically in Ward Nine, an area destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Brad Pitt and I will discuss it on a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Talk about other things, too. Wednesday night, 9:00 Eastern on CNN. Brad Pitt, exclusive, right here.

BEHAR: Joining us now is Larry himself on the phone. Hi, Larry, how are you?

KING: I'm fine, Joy. Just back in L.A. from New Orleans.

BEHAR: Tell us what happened today. How was it with Brad? What did you learn? Everything.

KING: Boy, I tell you, it was extraordinary. I think when the audience watches Wednesday, that they are going to see a side of Brad Pitt they haven't seen. Well, of course, he doesn't do many things publicly. He was extraordinary. Very, very, very cooperative. Very committed to restoring this Ward Nine, where he's got a campaign started to rebuild houses, build new houses. He's got architects from all over the world working with him. He put up $5 million of his own money.


KING: Now he's starting a whole, big campaign. It's called Make It Right, which is a great title. When you see this area, I don't know if you have been down there.

BEHAR: I have been down there. It's pretty bad.

KING: It's unbelievable. And nothing has happened. Nothing has happened. This place is like it was right after Katrina.

BEHAR: It's unbelievable.

KING: He has stepped forward and the people there are all appreciative. He's living there. He has a home there. He's totally committed to this. We also talk about family and film and other things.

BEHAR: Was Angelina down there with him?

KING: She sure was there with her children. I spoke to her. They did a kind of -- not a press conference. Each one involved in this made a little speech to a group of people and I stood with her while Brad Pitt was talking.

But it really is, it's a wonderful and extraordinary look at someone totally -- when you see someone like this in the position he's in, totally committed to something, it really does your heart good. This is a total commitment.

BEHAR: It is nice to see that these people are the real deal. That it's not some celebrity baloney.

KING: You're damn right.

BEHAR: That really is a wonderful thing to see. And it's great to have you go down there, I think, too. I think that's interesting that he's putting $5 million of his own money. Maybe other celebrities start to cash in -- cough up some money, too. Some of the rich ones out there. Thanks, Larry.

KING: We hope these people watch. Thank you, Joy. You're doing a great job, Joy.

BEHAR: Thank you, Larry. It was a pleasure sitting in for Larry tonight. And he will be back tomorrow with Brad Pitt. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360." Good night.