04/18/2007 - Americans, both black and white, generally agree with the punishment radio host Don Imus received for the racist and sexist remarks he made about the Rutgers University's women basketball team. Nonetheless, there are substantial racial differences in views of Imus's punishment, and an even bigger gap in opinions about news media's coverage of the story.
Majorities of both whites (53%) and African Americans (61%) who have been following the Imus story say that the punishment he received was appropriate. But roughly twice as many whites as blacks believe his punishment was too tough (35% vs. 18%). On April 12, the talk show host's morning radio program was cancelled by CBS. A day earlier, a cable television simulcast of the program on MSNBC was cancelled by NBC.
Fully 62% of whites say that news organizations are giving too much coverage to the Imus story. This compares with just 31% of African Americans who believe the controversy has been overcovered. A plurality of blacks (44%) says that the amount of coverage has been appropriate, while a sizable minority (18%) says it has gotten too little coverage.
The latest installment of Pew's weekly News Interest Index, finds that public interest in the Imus story was fairly modest, particularly when compared with the news media's intense focus on the controversy. The News Coverage Index for April 8-13, compiled by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, showed that Imus's downfall was the second most-covered story of 2007, filling 26% of the overall newshole for the week.
But the Imus story trailed the situation in Iraq as the week's most closely followed story. About a quarter of Americans (26%) cited the situation in Iraq as the story they followed most closely, compared with 20% who cited reports about Imus's remarks.
Read the full report Most Say Imus's Punishment Was Appropriate on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.