Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says if shock jock Don Imus has to go because of his recent racially-insensitive outburst, then it’s time for others in the national media to lose their jobs, too.
Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate, had been a guest on the Imus show, which was canceled yesterday by CBS Radio after MSNBC ended the Imus simulcast on its cable network the day before. "That was a decision the networks had to make. I think if Imus is going to get fired, then there’s a number of other people who need to go out the door," Huckabee says. "Rosie’s probably’s got to go. Bill Maher has to go. Gosh, half of television and talk radio has to go."
Huckabee’s making no apologies for Imus’ remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team — remarks Huckabee says are inexcusable. "It was wrong. It was over-the-top but hat made it so bad — worse than a normal kind of thing — was that it was directed at amateur athletes and college students — it wasn’t just a generic statement — and those are classy kids and they’ve shown an extraordinary level of class through this whole thing, more so than anybody else I’ve seen on either side of it," Huckabee says. "So he absolutely had to apologize. I think having some serious penalty and perhaps the toughest penalty was having to sit down for three hours and face those young ladies and look them in the eye and to tell them he was sorry."
That face-to-face meeting happened last night.
Huckabee, though, worries the Imus firing goes down the path of telling people what they can say. "There’s a side of me that gets a little concerned," Huckabee says. "Where does that stop?"
According to Huckabee, the marketplace should have decided Imus’ fate. If ratings for his show plummeted, then he’d be canceled, Huckabee says. Some companies already had pulled their ads from the Imus show.
Huckabee says the decision to cancel Imus’ program should never have been made because of pressure from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. "Perhaps what’s most offensive is that of all the people to lead the charge, here are two people who have a long history of making outrageous statements and getting away with it," Huckabee says. "I don’t understand that."
Huckabee made his comments this morning during an interview in Johnston, Iowa. Click on the audio link below to hear Huckabee’s entire statement. Click on The Blog to read a transcript.