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Rutgers Player Commits a
Foul with Imus Lawsuit

Basketball player sullies image of noble, victimized team, CMI’s Knight says.

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On the same day that disgraced shock jock Don Imus reached a settlement on his $120 million breach of contract lawsuit against CBS, Kia Vaughn, the center of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, muscled in to grab a piece of the pie. Her timing seems less than coincidental.

Vaughn filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages over Imus’ joke on April 4 describing the team as “nappy headed ho’s.” The remark led to an apology by Imus, widespread criticism, protests against CBS, and Imus’ suspension and eventual firing. Vaughn is suing MSNBC, NBC Universal, CBS Radio, CBS Corp., Viacom Inc. and Westwood One Radio, along with Imus’ producer, for libel, slander and defamation.

“The Rutgers women’s team has garnered tremendous and well-deserved positive publicity since Imus’ stupid and crude remark,” said MRC’s Culture and Media Institute Director Robert Knight. “Now, Kia Vaughn’s lawsuit may cost them their reputation for innocence. Nobody who is remotely sane believes that Imus was seriously describing the women’s actual character. He was making a lame joke using language heard every day on BET and other major media outlets. It will be interesting to see what the court will do with her claim, as stated by her attorney, that a lawsuit is necessary ‘to restore the good name and reputation of my client.’

“Was Imus wrong? Yes. Did he apologize? Yes. Was he still fired? Yes. Should he be allowed to return to the air? That’s a question the market will decide.

“Miss Vaughn’s lawsuit, whatever its merits, will strike many as a prime example of a sue-crazy culture in which people try to get rich off victimhood, real or imagined. It will be interesting to see whether the media question her motivation as closely as they have questioned Imus and others accused of self promotion at the expense of civility.”

To schedule an interview with MRC President Bozell or an MRC spokesperson, please contact Tim Scheiderer (x. 126) or Colleen O’Boyle (x. 122) at 703.683.5004.


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