Martin Bashir has resigned from MSNBC after the drum beat failed to die down after he apologized on air for having suggested, on air, that someone might defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth. “Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the president of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation,” Bashir said in an email first posted by Mediaite today. “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.”
Meanwhile, MSNBC president Phil Griffin, whose weeks-long silence on the subject of Bashir has been deafening, said today in a statement: “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 colleague — we wish him only the best.” Before this morning’s news, MSNBC — which fired Don Imus in 2007 for referring to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” and suspended David Shuster for two weeks in 2008 for suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign had “pimped out” daughter Chelsea by having her make phone calls to celebrities and convention delegates — had said the Bashir “matter” was being handled internally and it would have no comment.
This brings to two the number of on-air talent MSNBC has shed in the past several days. Late last week, the cable news network issued a joint announcement with Alec Baldwin’s camp, saying they had mutually decided to end Baldwin’s Up Late interview show.
Bashir, who joined the network in 2011, had used his weekday afternoon program on November 15 to criticize Palin for having compared U.S. indebtedness to China to slavery. Bashir cited the diaries of a former plantation overseer who punished slaves by having someone defecate in their mouth or urinate on their face. Bashir suggested the former Alaska governor was a candidate for the same treatment. After Bashir made that suggestion — on the same day MSNBC suspended Baldwin’s show in the wake of his off-screen behavior — much debate ensued as to why Baldwin’s reprehensible rant against a photographer during a heated off-air confrontation merited suspension, while Bashir’s thought-out, and deliberately gag-inducing, suggestion, made on air, did not. Bashir apologized during his next telecast, on November 18.
“Upon reflection, I so wish that I’d been more thoughtful, more considerate, more compassionate,” Bashir said in his apology.… I deeply regret what I said” about Palin. “I promise that I will take the opportunity to learn from this experience,” he said. “My hope is that it will renew in me a spirit of humility and humanity that looks for the good and that builds upon the great things that this country has to offer to all of us, regardless of our political persuasion. This will be my guiding light and compass in the days ahead.”
Two Sundays ago, Palin, a Fox News analyst, said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that she accepted Bashir’s apology. But she also said MSNBC was guilty of “executive hypocrisy” in not disciplining Bashir for his “vile, evil comments.” Meanwhile, Bashir’s apology did not hose calls for his resignation — Even Baldwin jumped in, noting his show had been terminated after he verbally tore into a photographer on the street, while Bashir’s scripted comments had been made on the network.
It had not been the first time a network has suffered a Bashir-induced headache. In 2008, the then-ABC News staffer was publicly slapped by that network after joking about “Asian babes” and erections during a speech at a diversity conference. ABC News responded via a spokesperson, saying, “This kind of remark has no place in any setting, and Martin knows that.” Bashir also apologized to the AAJA, writing, “Upon reflection, it was a tasteless remark that I now bitterly regret.”
Today’s news leaves MSNBC with yet another hole on its schedule. In Baldwin’s timeslot, MSNBC has said it plans to telecast longform programming.