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Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Imus' contract allowed 'controversial' program
We have some breaking news tonight about Don Imus that is bound to get some attention. The stakes are enormous: $40 million.

Some background: Today's news cycle has already reported Don Imus has retained well-known attorney Martin Garbus in anticipation of a wrongful termination lawsuit against CBS. You'll recall after a week-long storm CBS fired Imus after his controversial remarks about the Rutgers women's baskeball team.

Now our news: CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin has obtained PART of Don Imus' contract with CBS Radio, including the clause that is at the heart of Imus' case. Toobin suggests it is a very unusual contract provision that may force CBS to pay off the $40 million remaining on Imus' contract.

"Company [CBS Radio] acknowledges its familiarity with the program Conducted by Artist [Imus] on the station [WFAN] prior to company's ownership thereof and it, and its familiarity with the reviews and comments, both favorable and unfavorable concerning Artist and his material by critics, reviewers and writers of the various media both in New York and nationally. Company acknowledges that Artist's services to be rendered hereunder are of a unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial and personal character and that programs of the same general type and nature containing these components are desired by Company and are consistent with Company rules and policies."

(The bold highlights are ours.)

Tonight, we'll have Jeff Toobin and much more about what this means about Imus, CBS and what big media companies are actually expecting, if not encouraging, from some of their talent. CBS had no comment on this story.

-- By David Doss, "360" Executive Producer
Posted By CNN: 8:55 PM ET
  21 Comments
I think I'd have no comment too. Loopholes have a way of becoming a lasso, depending on who it ropes into paying big time...40 million will buy Mr. Imus another home on the range...Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 9:43 PM ET
If that is indeed written in the contract, and I have every reason to believe it is, than it is about time for the FCC to step up.
Our society is going down the drain and it is disgusting to see what companies (as CBS) are putting into their contracts in order to steer up controversy to attract more viewers and ultimately get more money from advertising companies.
Is everything just plain about money and nothing about our moral values anymore? It is sad to see what our society has come to.
Imus has crossed the line with his recent comments, but he is also the victim of a powerful and money-greedy corporate world that encouraged him to be controversial for their own agenda.
Posted By Elke, SW Florida : 9:59 PM ET
Good for Mr. Imus. C'mon, he was hired for his edginess. He is now calling his employer out on that fact.

I think Rosie O'Donnell was fired for the same reason (despite what the press release said); now, she'll be hired by some other network for the very same quality -edginess.
Posted By xtina - chicago IL : 10:05 PM ET
Mr. Doss,

This story gets better and better. Sounds like it is time to clean house at CBS and gather outside headquarters.

Oh, no, more air time for the Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse! Here we go again.
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 10:07 PM ET
Mr. Doss,

This story gets better and better. Sounds like it is time to clean house at CBS and gather outside headquarters.

Oh, no, more air time for the Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse! Here we go again.
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 10:08 PM ET
There's a world of difference between "irreverent...controversial" and misogynistic and racially offensive.

Imus pushed the envelope once too far. His firing was deserved, and his current actions can best be described in one of his own words: weasel.
Posted By SuzAnne, Long Island NY : 10:14 PM ET
Sad, but true, 'entertainment' and salability guides the media. Imus, Rap, Reality (ho,ho) TV, pop psychologists, tabloid, PAC ads and steroid sports reflects society. Although $40M is big bucks for a lawyer and Imus it is less to CBS, the bean counters would say that Imus made more than he cost.

The big win is that one piece of crap put the whole thing up for discussion. But geez, a rediculous Britney lipsinking in skimpy clothes sold for $1000 a ticket and Barry Bonds will get into the Hall of Fame while News will go forward with bias and without fact checking.
Posted By linda, bella vista : 10:30 PM ET
Hey David~
Ohhh, looks like CBS got egg on its face. That goes nice with the HAM!
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 10:35 PM ET
"unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial and personal character".

This does not include "rude, denigrating, dehumanizing, humiliating.....
Posted By Augie, Sunnyvale CA : 10:37 PM ET
That was a nice segment on the Imus contract.

The incident was overblown and the punishment was not commensurate with the offense. He has been portrayed as a racist right-wing nut, and he is neither. (Well, he might be a bit of a nut if you define it as someone who doesn't use talking points.) But then it would be necessary to actually watch or listen to the show for a while to be able to determine that. His fans understood what he was about. It is so unfair that he has been judged by the public in such a harsh way. Much of the humor was a way to point out just how hypocrital (another H word) some people are.

The story that has not been told is that of the fans of the show who now have such a gaping hole in their morning. And, ironically, as it turns out, it is the fans who are boycotting: MSNBC, CBS, and the sponsors who pulled out. And in that we are steadfast.
Posted By Anne B., Gainesville, Fl. : 10:59 PM ET
David: It was hard for me to believe that Imus would fade into the dust that quietly after he got fired so I'm really not that surprised that he may possibly sue CBS. It will be interesting to see the rest of the contract because I'm sure CBS has got to have some other clause or loophole that justifies the firing. Let's face it, the only reason why Imus apologized is because of the reaction from the public which resulted in the sponsors backing out. That is, in reality, lost money for CBS. Great and interesting report tonight...Toobin done good!
Posted By Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 11:24 PM ET
I was watching Anderson's piec tonight on Mr. Imus. Isn't that wonderful that you can say cruel and ignorant things as a part of your overpriced clause? Wow, I'm impressed with Imus's "integrity" to HIDE behind this document and now accuse CBS of wrongdoing. Hmm, he who casts the first stone....
Posted By SP, Villa Hills, KY : 12:20 AM ET
Pay the man. CBS contracted for rude behavior. What Imus said was not racist. Please. It was rude and disgusting which is exactly what CBS asked for and received. Now CBS should pay up. The people who listen to Imus only encourage this type of programming. CBS is in business to attract more listeners. Maybe people should stop listening to programming like this. I blame the listeners for all of this.
Posted By John, Hartford, CT : 7:42 AM ET
Face it, CBS had to fire him. Face it, considering the contract he should sue them and win.

If you watched his show you would know that it is normal for them to say just what they did. CBS enjoyed the profit from years of this. Let us not look at CBS as a moral compass.
Moral and profit almost never never walk the same road.

So what else does CBS plan to do
to right universal wrong? You might take a look at all the other things they have their hands in and ask where the cuts will come. My bet, there won't be any.

No, you can't blame them for firing him but you can't stand with them
for glowing moral leadership. Like Imus, they get away with what they can for the sake of profit. Two peas in a pod.
Posted By Mac, Greenville SC : 7:58 AM ET
It was a smart business decision to fire Imus. At the time of the controversy, the expectd loss of ad revenue and bad publicity left CBS with little choice (even if to costs them $40M).
Posted By Mark, Atlanta : 8:11 AM ET
Good for Don Imus. I did not agree with the comments he made, but if you listened to his show on a regular basis you soon realized that this is what made his show not only interesting, but outrageous at times. I thought a suspension was in order, but did not agree with the firing. There is too much hypocrisy in this whole issue of Don Imus.
Posted By Donna Chapman, Fairfield, ME : 9:10 AM ET
Not that I think that the comment was in ANY way appropriate, but did I not, in early rebroadcasts, hear either Imus or his sidekick say, "You know, like that Spike Lee thing.."? The spot was shortened for later broadcasts. It was not right for Imus to say it, but it is equally not right for Spike Lee, or the multitude of rappers who say the same without penalty.
Posted By L T, Tupelo, MS : 9:19 AM ET
Interesting report last night...I'd say Don Imus and his representatives are pretty shrewd to get that sort of loophole into a contract. Personally, I'm glad CBS may have to pay out on this one. When the network allows garbage like Don Imus' program on the air and these shock jocks lose all sense of common decency and morality, there should be some sort of financial consequences for the networks subjecting Americans to that level of dribble. And if CBS gets out of this one, I will seriously wonder about our justice system even more than I already do.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 9:41 AM ET
I have to laugh, CBS, you agree to a contract which clearly states the parameters of the service you wanted in Imus. He provides exactly that, yet you fold like an old lawn chair, when the public jumps on the weekly bitch about “somebody is offended by a comment” gig. I would have more respect for your company along with your advertisers if you stood behind your employee and the contract you agreed on. I did not care for the comment, however I understood that was part of the overall “Imus in the Morning” thing when I tuned in.
Posted By R.Carlson, Woodstock, Illinois : 9:41 AM ET
I'm with Imus on this one, and I hope the weak-kneed hypocrites at CBS who fired him for giving them what they wanted get nailed. By the way, I'm offended (REALLY OFFENDED) by dumb blond jokes. Who do you think cares? Message to all: Quit being so thin-skinned.
Posted By Mary, Beaver, PA : 12:20 PM ET
David,

I have to admit I'm with Imus on this, from the beginning, with or without the "unusual" wording of the contract. (Sound like the will of ANS?)

The comment, in itself was probably better left unspoken, however, given that this format is the same Imus has used for years, to suddenly find your hat handed to you must have come as quite a shock. What happenened to the two weeks CBS an MSNBC both promised? Personally, I think use of a warning would have been beneficial. Makes the stab in the back less painful if you know it's coming.

I think one of my first thoughts last night concerned those who might be caught more or less in the middle, as contributors to CBS who were required to report story might well have been. We know where first loyalty must lie, yet it had to be a bit strange.

Maggie
Posted By Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 3:48 PM ET
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