NEW YORK Don Imus, responding to criticism about racial remarks on his radio program, said on the air Tuesday he was trying to "make a sarcastic point" about unfair treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system but had been misunderstood.
Imus resurrected his radio career six months ago with a pledge to mend the wounds caused by a racist and sexist comment he made about a women's basketball team.
On Tuesday he said he was following the spirit of that promise by calling attention to the unfair treatment of blacks in this case the arrests of suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones.
"What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason," Imus said Tuesday. "I mean, there's no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once."
He called the flurry of criticism surrounding the comments "ridiculous" and said that his program's cast is now more diverse than ever and includes a black producer and two black co-hosts, a man and a woman.
"How insane would I have to be? What would I be thinking?" Imus wondered aloud.
The latest comments by Imus to come under scrutiny were aired on Monday's broadcast. During a conversation about Jones' run-ins with the law, Imus asked, "What color is he?" Sports announcer Warner Wolf said Jones formerly known as Pacman is "African-American." Imus responded: "There you go. Now we know."
The on-air exchange came months after Imus' return to work on a new show on WABC-AM following his firing from MSNBC and CBS Radio for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
When he returned to work, Imus gave a lengthy on-air apology and pledged to use his new show to foster an open dialogue on race relations.
Co-host Karith Foster, who is black, came to Imus' defense during Tuesday's broadcast, saying, "People who interpret what you said as racist clearly didn't hear the whole thing, and they don't know who you are and what the program is about and they obviously haven't been listening."
Jones told The Dallas Morning News in Tuesday editions that he's upset by Imus' comments and plans to pray for the radio host.
"I'm truly upset about the comments," Jones said. "Obviously Mr. Imus has problems with African-Americans. I'm upset, and I hope the station he works for handles it accordingly. I will pray for him."
WABC and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. Vice President Phil Boyce said Monday that it was unlikely the broadcasters would take disciplinary action against Imus.