Highlights in bold.
6:00 A.M.: Charles McCord opens the program. “The Imus in the Morning program has returned to the air following a hiatus of nearly 8 months.” Wild applause from the live audience assembled in Times Square’s Town Hall.
6:06 A.M.: Imus debuts to the sound of “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project (famous for also being the Chicago Bulls theme song).
6:07 A.M.: Imus announces today’s guests: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sen. John McCain, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sen. Chris Dodd, James Carville, Mary Matalin.
6:09 A.M.: Levon Helm performs.
6:14 A.M.: New “Imus in the Morning” jingle.
6:10 A.M.: “I want to take a second to introduce this new incarnation of ‘Imus in the Morning’ and the cast.” They are: Bernard McGuirk, Rob Bartlett, Tony Powell, Cara Foster, Larry Kinney, Lou Ruffino.
6:20 A.M.: “I want to take a second to talk about what happened back on April 12th. … what it means … what it means for this program and what it means for the young women out of Rutgers.
“In thinking about what happened… I didn’t see appoint in going on some Larry King tour to offer a bunch of lame excuses for making a reprehensible remark about innocent people who did not deserve to be made fun of.
“I think what happened is about what should have happened. I think one has to realize …that you don’t get to decide nor should you how the news media is going to treat you a remark you make. …
“Every time that I got pissed off about that I reminded myself that if I hadn’t said what I said then I wouldn’t be having this discussion. …
Les Moonves could not have been more honorable and decent and honest in dealing with me. …
6:23 A.M.: “Whether you’re a good person or not is completely unrelated and it doesn’t give you any license to make any kind of remark you feel like making, and doesn’t minimize the impact it has on who you make it about. …”
6:25 A.M.: Describes meeting with Rutgers basketball team as close to a life-changing experience.
6:28 A.M.: “As I was talking to these young women, I realized that, other than placing in context for them who I was and that I wasn’t some vicious racist and this is what we did for a living — make fun of people — that was so irrelevant to how they felt. … It sounded to me as I listened to myself talk and as I looked at them, it just sounded like one lame excuse after another. …
“They didn’t think I was calling them prostitutes, but they didn’t think it was funny either.
“One woman was this close to my face, just screaming. You could feel her heart break. And I realized how fortunate it was that I was fired. If I had been there apologizing and offering these excuses and still had my job, they would have thought that I was there to save my job and that may have been true. But I was there to save my life. I had already lost my job … They forgave me, they accepted my apology and they said that they would never forget. And I said that I would never forget.”
6:32 A.M.: “I analogized it to being an alcoholic and a drug addict, which I also am. If you get into recovery, which I am, for 20 some years now, you have an opportunity to be a better person and to have a better life than you ordinarily would have. And that’s true in this situation because it was demonstrated to these young women that there are consequences for things you say. Would I rather have not gone through it? … Absolutely.”
6:33 A.M.: “We now have the opportunity to have a better program, to obviously diversity the cast — I mean that just makes sense. But the program is not going to change. … It is a great radio program. It’s on a better radio station. … I will never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me. And no one else will say anything on my program that will make anyone else think that I didn’t deserve a second chance.”
6:34 A.M.: Imus takes national media to task. “They said we were going to have an ongoing discussion about race relations in this country as soon as I left the room. … I must have missed that.”
6:35 A.M.: “Not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, Hillary Clinton is still Satan and I’m back on the radio!”
6:38 A.M.: At the end of Imus’ speech, he plays Montgomery Gentry’s “Some People Change”:
Here’s to the strong; thanks to the brave.
Don’t give up hope: some people change.
Against all odds, against the grain,
Love finds a way: some people change.
Some people change.
6:45 A.M.: Goodwin: “I’m so excited you’re back.” Imus tells her at 6:55 that she’s “a great friend.”
6:47 A.M.: Salutes Sean Hannity and Opie & Anthony for their support during Imus’ tough time.
6:48 A.M.: “We signed for five years because that’s how long it’s going to take to get even with everybody.”
6:49 A.M.: Someone wrote Imus a letter and said, “Since the Rutgers team forgave you, can’t you forgive” those whom Imus feels betrayed him. Imus: “I probably can.” But: “I didn’t think that these various folks who I was making famous and rich had a lot of courage. I don’t know what you think about Al Sharpton, but if I’m going to pick somebody to be in a foxhole with, I pick him before I pick a lot of them people.”
7:01 A.M.: Any reason MSNBC still has its Imus page up?
7:36 A.M.: Sen. John McCain tells Imus, “Glad to have you back.”