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NBC News Prez’ Imus Memo: ‘I Take Imus At His Word’

NBC News president Steve Capus sent this note to all NBC/MSNBC employees last night:

This afternoon we took decisive action as it relates to the deplorable comments by Don Imus on his nationally broadcast radio program. We’ve suspended the Imus MSNBC simulcast for two weeks, beginning next Monday. We decided to start the suspension on Monday because we did not want to do anything to hurt the previously scheduled radiothon which raises money for some truly worthwhile organizations.

The fact that Imus devotes a great deal of energy to that radiothon every year speaks in large measure to who he is. However, it is also true that many people will define Imus by his own hateful words about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. He made it very clear all day today that he understands the level of pain associated with his words and he’s devoted to a true effort of reconciliation. I take Imus at his word that he is going to continue to take serious, meaningful corrective actions.

The dialogue that has begun as a result of this terrible incident is felt in the heart and souls of NBC employees. For example, Ron Allen wrote an extremely powerful commentary on this matter in the Daily Nightly blog. I’ve also heard from a number of people who have expressed their thoughts in support of Imus in general … and against his actions. This internal dialogue is healthy for our organization.

I want all of us to be mindful of the diversity issues we have in our control. Think long and hard about the people we choose to use as pundits… for sound bites… and to help shape our journalism. Let’s make sure that our work is reflective of America. Let’s encourage a diversity of opinion in our newsrooms. Let’s do all we can to ensure a diverse workforce at all levels of our organizations. Speak up quickly when you see or hear something that is not right. That is the culture of NBC News, at our best. And to be clear, I want nothing but the best FROM this organization and FOR this organization.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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