TV host out after inflammatory remarks
The host of a US cable channel has resigned from the network, three weeks after he suggested Sarah Palin should be punished for her remarks about slavery by having someone defecate in her mouth.
"I deeply regret" the comments, MSNBC host Martin Bashir in a statement Wednesday (local time). "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.
The uproar began last month after Bashir criticised the former Alaska governor and her ''long-diseased mind'' for a remark she made comparing the United States' indebtedness to China with slavery.
After playing video of her speech about China, Bashir told the story of Thomas Thistlewood, a former overseer at a Jamaica 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. He called this punishment ''Derby's dose''.
"When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery," 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."
Bashir apologised days later. But the controversy continued to rage, with Palin's political action committee writing to Griffin and NBC News President Deborah Turness seeking discipline for Bashir, and Palin cancelling a scheduled interview with NBC's Matt Lauer.
Bashir came to MSNBC in 2010 from ABC News. The London-born journalist had also won attention for documentaries including "Living With Michael Jackson," which in 2003 aired to a huge audience, and his exclusive 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.