MSNBC‘s joint announcement today with Alec Baldwin’s camp that they had mutually decided to end Baldwin’s Up Late interview show leaves the cable news network with just one on-air talent headache: Martin Bashir, whose apology for graphic comments he made about Sarah Palin hasn’t ended chatter as to whether he should be punished.
This past weekend, Palin, a Fox News analyst, said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that MSNBC was guilty of “executive hypocrisy” in not disciplining Bashir for his “vile, evil comments.” Following Bashir’s on-air apology, the network — 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 — told the Associated Press it was “handling this [Bashir] matter internally,” and wouldn’t comment further.
Bashir 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, the same day MSNBC suspended Baldwin’s show after the host’s off-screen behavior, much debate ensued as to why Baldwin’s reprehensible rant 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. (more…)