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“60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney was suspended for three months without pay by CBS News on Thursday following remarks about blacks and gays attributed to him in The Advocate, a gay magazine based in Los Angeles.“I have made it clear that CBS News cannot tolerate such remarks or anything that approximates such comments since they in no way reflect the views of this organization,” CBS News President David Burke said in a statement released after he met with Rooney.
Rooney categorically denied having made racist remarks, saying he was talking about problems with educating people of all races, not just blacks.
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I am just infuriated by the notion that I am being called a racist.
Anyone who knows me knows that is not true.” But Rooney said in a formal statement that “Mr. (are) all known to lead quite often to premature death.”In a previous letter to The Advocate, Rooney had apologized for offending gays in the special and promised to be “more careful.” But representatives from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) were meeting this week for the second time with executives at CBS News to discuss Rooney’s remarks in the special and overall reporting on gays in the news.“We feel that justice has been done,” Craig Davidson, executive director of GLAAD, said in response to the suspension Thursday.
“He is an independent thinker and a courageous social critic.
His more outrageous comments are bound to offend one element or another of the population from time to time, but any suggestion that such a rare journalistic voice should be silenced indicates a dangerous weakness in our pluralistic, democratic society.”The racial remarks attributed to Rooney were made in what The Advocate said was a 20-minute interview conducted several weeks ago by Chris Bull, a New York-based correspondent for the publication.
But the statements show that different kinds of bigotry can exist in the same person.”“We are pleased that CBS has moved so promptly,” Benjamin J. for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement.
Although the interview was not tape-recorded, Bull said in an interview with The Times that “I stand by the accuracy of the story.”Bull said that he had called Rooney regarding his comments about gays in the December TV program.“He was not mean or vindictive, but I thought he expressed a lot of outdated ideas about AIDS and homosexuality,” Bull maintained.
Bull said that he was surprised by Rooney’s remarks about race.“I said, ‘What you just said sounds like racism,’ giving him a chance to respond.
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I never made any remark about blacks having ‘watered down’ their genes.