The British journalist Martin Bashir has resigned from his job as an MSNBC talk show host after he made comments suggesting someone should defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth.
The broadcaster, who first made his name in the late 1990s with an exclusive interview with Princess Diana, took issue with a speech in which the former vice-Presidential candidate compared US debt to China with slavery.
Mr Bashir called Ms Palin a “world class idiot” for making the comparison, and said she would “qualify” for the sort of punishment some slaves were subjected to – having others urinate and defecate in their mouths.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr Bashir wrote: “I deeply regret what was said.
“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.”
His resignation, effective immediately, was accepted by MSNBC president Phil Griffin, who in a statement thanked him “for three great years” with the network.
Mr Bashir had previously issued an apology to the former Alaska governor and to his viewers, calling his remarks “wholly unacceptable” and “deeply offensive”.
Ms Palin nonetheless pushed for further action from the network, and cancelled an appearance on NBC’s Today show with Matt Lauer. Her organisation SarahPAC said she wanted “to know what disciplinary measures (MSNBC) are taking about Martin Bashir’s appalling statement”.
Mr Bashir had criticized Palin and what he called her “long-diseased mind”. He told the story of Thomas Thistlewood, a former overseer at a plantation who described in diaries how he dealt with wayward slaves by, in one case, having another slave defecate in the mouth of the miscreant. In another case, someone urinated in the face of a slave being punished.
“When Ms Palin invokes slavery,” Mr Bashir said, “she doesn't just prove her rank ignorance, she confirms (that) if anyone truly qualifies for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, then she would be the outstanding candidate.”
Mr Bashir’s slots on MSNBC have been covered by contributor Joy-Ann Reid in recent days, and the network said a permanent replacement will be named in the coming weeks.
Bashir came to MSNBC in 2010 from ABC News' Nightline. He had joined ABC in 2004 as a correspondent for the 20/20 programme.
Prior to that, the London-born journalist won attention for documentaries including “Living With Michael Jackson,” which in 2003 aired on ABC to a huge audience, and his interview with Princess Diana in 1995.
Bashir's exit from MSNBC coincided with the network parting company with actor Alec Baldwin, who was suspended from his weekly talk show after just two weeks for using an anti-gay slur in a New York City street encounter.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press