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GM Pulls Ads From Imus Show

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  General Motors

GM Pulls Ads From Imus Show

Glady Reign
April 13, 2007

General Motors Corp. joined other sponsors that are pulling ads from the "Imus in the Morning" program following last week’s controversial comments of the jock about African Americans as well as female college athletes.

GM said it will stop advertising during the Imus show. The show originated on the CBS-owned WFAN in New York and is syndicated nationwide. The program also is simulcast daily on the MSNBC cable television channel. GM in 2006 was the top advertising spender at MSNBC overall and during the Imus program, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The automaker issued a statement that stated: "General Motors obviously does not condone the comments Don Imus recently made in reference to the Rutgers University women's basketball team. Mr. Imus has publicly apologized, and admitted his comments were ‘completely inappropriate and offensive.’ He has also stated his intention to make changes to his show. We acknowledge and welcome these actions. We have decided, however, to suspend our advertising while we continue to monitor the situation."

In 2006, the largest automaker spent an estimated $692,000 purchasing commercial time during the MSNBC simulcast of the Imus program. The ads were not as simple and affordable as those of Volvo car parts for it does mean that they include a heftier sum. Overall, the automaker spent $7.95 million at MSNBC. The data was divulged by TNS. Other top sponsors of Imus include Sprint Nextel Corp., PetMed Express Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and drug maker GlaxoSmithKline PLC. Spokesmen for the Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group said that those car companies do not advertise during the Imus show, but said that it is possible some of their dealers may independently buy spots in their local markets.

On April 4, Imus, along with producer and sidekick Bernard McGuirk, bantered about the Rutgers University women's basketball team which had lost an NCAA Championship game the night before. He referred to the athletes with the slur "nappy-headed hos."

The next day Imus issued a brief apology but retort to the derogatory dialogue on his show continued throughout the weekend. On Monday a visibly shaken Imus offered a longer on-air mea culpa, describing himself as a "good person" who "said a bad thing." But the mea culpa failed to appease many critics. These critics pointed to comparable misogynistic and racist remarks Imus and his staff have made in the past.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, and others have called for the ouster of Imus, who nonetheless appeared on Sharpton's Monday broadcast. Imus, up until now, continues to convey his remarks and apologies to the players and their families. The Rutgers basketball players and their coach held a press conference Tuesday and agreed to meet with the radio host.

"This young team fought through immeasurable odds to reach the highest pinnacle and play for the school's first national championship in a major sport," said C. Vivian Stringer, the coach of the team. "To serve as a joke of Mr. Imus in such an insensitive manner creates a wedge and makes light of the efforts of these classy individuals, both as women and as women of color."

CBS and MSNBC have said they will punish Imus by suspending the program for two weeks starting April 16. Procter & Gamble, office-supply chain Staples Inc. and other sponsors already have pulled their commercials from the program. The decision was made notwithstanding Imus’ repeated apologies and promises of reform.

GM intimated it will carry on its support to Imus' charitable efforts that cover work with sick and disabled children. Ryndee S. Carney, the GM spokeswoman, said the automaker has donated vehicles for use at The Imus Ranch, a nearly 4,000-acre cattle station in New Mexico. The ranch is used to offer kids with cancer and other diseases a 'cowboy experience.

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