On the April 9 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN contributor Carol Costello reported that she had contacted various "past political guests" of MSNBC host Don Imus' to inquire whether they would appear again on his show after he referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." Costello noted that she "didn't hear back" from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) -- along with several other 2008 presidential candidates who have apparently appeared on Imus' program. But contrary to Costello's suggestion, Clinton has not been a recent guest of Imus' -- the Clintons and Imus had a falling-out after comments Imus made at a Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner in 1996. Imus said recently that he will "never" have Sen. Clinton as a guest on his show.
As Media Matters for America noted, Costello also falsely asserted that "you don't see candidate Hillary Clinton on Leno or Letterman." In fact, Clinton has appeared on numerous entertainment shows as a Senate candidate, senator, and presidential contender -- including NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and CBS' Late Show with David Letterman.
ABC News' Mark Halperin and The Politico's John Harris documented the origins of the Clinton-Imus feud in their book The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008 (Random House, October 2006). Halperin and Harris wrote in a chapter titled "Bubba Does Imus (and Vice Versa)" that "[t]he Clinton-Imus bond was forged in April during the 1992 campaign" after Imus interviewed Bill Clinton on the April 2, 1992, edition of his show. They continued:
The ties were broken -- pulverized, actually -- on March 21, 1996, when Imus was invited to be the featured entertainer at the Radio and TV Correspondents Association dinner, one of the annual gatherings of media luminaries and political players at which presidential attendance is all but mandatory. Imus had barely begun his routine when words such as "indicted," "subpoena," "Go, baby," "AstroTurf in the pickup" and "pot-smoking weasel" came spilling out of his mouth. The president and first lady, seated on the dais, were forced to maintain their composure in front of three thousand spectators and the television cameras. (Imus also slammed a number of prominent "TV scum.") In the wake of the humiliating event, the Clintons were presented with a letter of apology from the correspondents association, and White House press secretary Mike McCurry prevailed upon C-SPAN to desist from rebroadcasting the speech as scheduled. Imus, meanwhile, was unrepentant. "Let's not all pretend we don't know what the deal was," he said. "They knew what they were getting when they asked me." [Page 97]
On the April 4 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Imus noted that Donald Trump recently urged him to have Sen. Clinton on his program. Imus rejected the idea, saying, "I don't like her" and claiming that the Clintons "screwed" him 10 years ago:
IMUS: Anyway, [Donald] Trump says I -- he wants me to have Hillary Clinton on --
MICHAEL GRAHAM (radio host and syndicated columnist): Right.
IMUS: -- which I'm not going to do.
GRAHAM: Why not?
IMUS: Because I don't like her. Because she and her fat, stupid husband screwed me about 10 years ago, and I'm not going to get over it. I would remind my friend Donald Trump he wouldn't have got over it either.
GRAHAM: No, he wouldn't have.
IMUS: He would have done the exact same thing I've been doing all these years.
Similarly, on the April 6 edition of Imus, NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert brought up Trump's proposal and asked, "When's that going to happen?" Imus replied, "Never":
RUSSERT: Now, the other news I heard today is that Donald Trump is brokering Hillary Clinton to be your guest.
RUSSERT: When's that going to happen?
RUSSERT: It will absolutely happen.
IMUS: OK. Well. I'll bet you $1 million to go to any charity you want that she'll never be on this program.
From the April 9 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
COSTELLO: Imus says he really hasn't thought about what the exact punishment, if you will, will be. Imus has reached out to the Rutgers players. They haven't decided whether they'll talk to him yet.
As for Imus' past political guests, didn't hear back from Clinton, [Sen. Christopher] Dodd [D-CT], [former New York City Mayor Rudy] Giuliani [R], or [Sen. Joseph] Biden [D-DE]. [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ] said today -- at least he intimated he would go back on Imus' program. [Sen.] Barack Obama's [D-IL] camp did get back to me, saying they didn't get my email in time. Senator Obama is due to be on the David Letterman show tonight.