NEW YORK (AP) - After being criticized for his racially charged comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, radio host Don Imus said Monday that he's a good person who said a bad thing and will check his acid tongue.
"Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it," he said on his nationally syndicated radio show. "Because the climate on this program has been what it's been for 30 years doesn't mean it's going to be what it's been for the next five years or whatever because that has to change, and I understand that."
Imus said he was "embarrassed" by the remarks, in which he referred to the mostly black team as "nappy-headed hos." He said he had made the comments in the course of "trying to be funny," but he was not trying to excuse them.
"I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person, but I said a bad thing. But these young women deserve to know it was not said with malice," he said.
He pointed to his involvement with the Imus Ranch, a cattle farm for children with cancer and blood disorders in Ribera, N.M. Ten percent of the children who come to the ranch are black, he added. "I'm not a white man who doesn't know any African-Americans," he said.
Imus said he hoped to meet the Rutgers players and their parents and coaches, and he said he was grateful that he was scheduled to appear later Monday on a radio show hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has called for Imus to be fired over the remarks.
"It's not going to be easy, but I'm not looking for it to be easy," Imus said. Sharpton has said he wants Imus fired and that he intends to complain to the Federal Communications Commission about the matter. "Somewhere we must draw the line in what is tolerable in mainstream media," Sharpton said Sunday. "We cannot keep going through offending us and then apologizing and then acting like it never happened. Somewhere we've got to stop this."
Meanwhile, the Rev. Jesse Jackson planned a protest in Chicago, and an NAACP official called for the broadcaster's resignation or firing.
Imus made the now infamous remark during his show Wednesday. The Rutgers team, which includes eight black women, had lost the day before in the NCAA women's championship game. Imus was speaking with producer Bernard McGuirk about the game when the exchange began on "Imus in the Morning," which is broadcast to millions of people on more than 70 stations and MSNBC.
"That's some rough girls from Rutgers," Imus said. "Man, they got tattoos..."
"Some hardcore hos," McGuirk said.
"That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that," Imus said.
Imus also apologized on the air Friday, but his mea culpa has not quieted the uproar.
Jackson said his RainbowPUSH Coalition planned to protest Monday in Chicago outside the offices of NBC, which owns MSNBC. Jackson said protests were being planned across the country. James E. Harris, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, demanded Sunday that Imus "resign or be terminated immediately."
Allison Gollust, a spokeswoman for MSNBC, said the network considers Imus' comments "deplorable" and is reviewing the matter.
Karen Mateo, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio - Imus' employer and the owner of his New York radio home, WFAN-AM - said the company was "disappointed" in Imus' actions and characterized his comments as "completely inappropriate."