We vetted this issue for quite a long time on another, nearly infamous thread. I won't rehash my position here.
I will say that Juan Williams, author of the book, 'Enough', even though he agrees with the consensus here, acknowledges that it's sort of silly for the Jesse Jacksons of the world to suddenly become indignant about the use of the word NOW, when a white person said it, after years of ignoring it in the pop culture. (he said this on the Laura Ingraham radio show, which I heard on my way to work last night.)
While you might think that at least they are coming out against it now, it's way too little, too late: this horse was long ago let out of the barn in the pop culture.
I agree that the men castigated by Richards are more interested in what's in it for them than they are motivated by any true measure of damage. It's also true that Richards is so desperate to put the issue behind him, that he will buy them off. I don't even think it's unseemly for them to ask for money.
After all, if, for example, Russell Crowe threw a telephone at ME, I'd ask for a pretty penny to make the issue go away. . .
What I want to know is THIS: how much should Britney pay me to get over being offended by the pics of her going commando? Shoot, how much should she pay me to get over even knowing she exists? I think that I can make a reasonable case that I'm scarred for life.