Radio personality Don Imus and his program's executive producer emphatically apologized to a group of Satanists on Imus' show Tuesday morning for the producer advocating the group "should be shot" during an on-air segment last Thursday.
The apologies by Imus and producer Bernard McGuirk came one day after philly.com and other news websites reported that a group called The Satanic Temple, which has proposed erecting a statue of Satan outside the Oklahoma Statehouse, demanded an apology from McGuirk.
"They should be able to put the statue up and then they should be shot right next to it," the commentator, Bernard McGuirk, said on the Imus in the Morning show that aired last Thursday. "And then we take it down."
The group also demanded a response from Fox Business, which airs the show on the television channel each morning.
McGuirk, who made the initial remarks during a segment with Imus called "Mensa Meeting," also retracted his comments that attributed Satanism to evil.
"My comments were rooted in ignorance. Satanists, they do not promote evil, a la Charles Manson or Hitler," McGuirk said. "Regardless, I don’t want to see anyone shot. That’s the truth of the matter. So I do apologize unequivocally."
A Satanic Temple spokesman, Lucien Greaves, told philly.com on Monday he feared that someone listening or watching McGuirk may actually follow through after such a provocation of violence.
"Advocacy of the murder of American citizens based on their religious beliefs is intolerable and sickening. For [Fox News] to disseminate such a position as part of a televised debate on a national network strikes at the heart of this country's founding principles and potentially places the Temple's members in imminent danger," according to a letter sent Saturday to Fox News.
Imus began the conversation that led to the apologies by describing the controversy as "not a big deal. It's a little deal."
He then ended the conversation, which began shortly after 6 a.m. and lasted two minutes, by reminding listeners that "I'm not serious."
"I’ve been doing this for 42 years in New York. I’m not serious," Imus said. "I’m also aware that you have to be responsible and consider the consequences of what you say and we’re going to try to do that. And we will do [that]. So, and we are sorry about that."
He then mumbled, "Calm down. Gosh. Man."
Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.