If there's a lesson here for Don Imus, and I for one am doubtful he's capable of learning anything - ever - it's that you should do your best to maintain the benefit of the doubt for yourself, so that you have it when you need it:
During an on-air conversation Monday about suspended Dallas Cowboy's cornerback Adam Jones' run-ins with the law, Imus asked, "What color is he?" Sports announcer Warner Wolf said Jones -- known as Pacman -- is "African-American." Imus responded: "There you go. Now we know."
Hey, guess what? He's got an excuse!
[Imus] said on the air Tuesday that he was trying to "make a sarcastic point" about unfair treatment of blacks in the criminal justice system but had been misunderstood..."What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason," Imus said Tuesday.
The thing is, the explanation is almost plausible. Anyone who's been a participant in satirical blog discussions on race is familiar with just the kind of thing Imus is claiming. I imagine there are different levels of comfort people have about that kind of thing, but it doesn't usually end up with a massive racial firestorm when it happens. Besides the fact that it's an extremely hamfisted instance of sarcasm, the problem Imus runs into here:
Therefore, the most likely explanation is not that he used a really weak sarcastic joke, but that he's a racist tool. Makin' beds and lyin' in 'em.