MSNBC Host Resigns After Palin-Slavery Comments
By Chris Hoenig
Martin Bashir has left MSNBC after making crude remarks about Sarah Palin on his show last month.
On Nov. 15, Bashir was responding to Palin’s comparison of the national debt to slavery and said that the former Vice Presidential nominee’s comments dehumanized the horrifying pain and torture that slaves endured. He specifically noted the story of Thomas Thistlewood, a slave owner who forced his slaves to defecate in each other’s mouth as a punishmenteven spelling out the “s” wordand suggested that someone should do the same to her.
“When Mrs. Palin invoked slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance,” Bashir told his audience. “She confirms that if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she would be the outstanding candidate.
The backlash began almost immediately, with Palin calling the comments “vile” and “evil.” Bashir took two weeks’ vacation to step away from the scandal, but the lack of formal punishment from the network only served to fuel the outrage, which was happening at the same time as MSNBC was dealing with hurtful comments from another of its hosts.
MSNBC execs had initially suspended Alec Baldwin for two weeks after he directed an anti-LGBT slur at a photographer. Ultimately, both men met the same fate: parting ways with the network, though neither was officially fired.
“It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments,” Bashir wrote in a statement posted on the MSNBC website. “I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewerswho are the smartest, most compassionate and discerning of all television audiences.I would also wish to express deepest gratitude to my immediate colleagues, and our contributors, all of whom have given so much of themselves to our broadcast.”
MSNBC President Phil Griffin added, “Martin Bashir resigned today, effective immediately. I understand his decision and I thank him for three great years with MSNBC. Martin is a good man and respected colleaguewe wish him only the best.”
Appearing on FOX & Friends on Thursday morning, Palin briefly responded to Bashir’s resignation. “My role was to accept his apology and be humble enough to accept it and move on,” she said, adding that it was “refreshing to see, though, that many in the media did come out and say, ‘Look, our standards have got to be higher than this.'”
Bashir had joined MSNBC as a political commentator in 2010. The British journalist is best known for his 2003 interviews with Michael Jackson for an ITV documentary and his 1995 interview with Princess Diana on the BBC.