Good riddance, Martin Bashir.
Almost three weeks after his despicable on-air trashing of Sarah Palin, MSNBC host Martin Bashir has lost his job. That’s a hefty price to pay, but a fair one.
I stand with Sarah Palin on this one.
What could Bashir have been thinking when he announced in graphic terms that the former Alaska governor should receive the same vile, scatological abuse that was heaped on a 19th century slave?
He must have thought he was indulging in clever hyperbole by suggesting a physical punishment for Palin's tone-deaf remark comparing America’s Chinese debt to slavery, and her foolish insistence that her claim was not “racist.”
But neither Palin nor viewers of MSNBC deserved to hear about the vulgar comeuppance Bashir imagined for her.
His resignation statement was appropriately contrite:
"After making an on-air apology, I asked for permission to take some additional time out around the Thanksgiving holiday. Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation. 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.
"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 viewers -- who 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.”
I suppose it's to her credit that having left politics to cash in on her fame as John McCain's 2008 running mate, Palin continues to inflame the imagination of liberals.
At least twice in the last year, clearly bogus stories about her from the satirical website the Daily Currant have circulated in social media, promulgated as truth by people who really should know better.
In one story, Palin claimed Jesus Christ celebrated Easter.
In another, she was about to join Al Jazeera as a commentator. A “New York media analyst” named “Elizabeth Lemon” (that should have been the satirical tip-off right there) was quoted as saying that Palin would help rebrand the Qatar-based network for an American audience. “Alaska is located very close to the Middle East, yet for some reason we don’t have many Arab tourists,” went the made-up Palin quotes. “We may not have camels, deserts and genies, but we’ve certainly got lots of oil and caribou -- which are kinda like the Christian version of camels.”
Who could take that seriously?
The stories caught fire because they play into the stereotype of Palin as an intellectual lightweight. She may not have Ivy League degrees and she is often inarticulate, but she remains a political hero to plenty of conservative Americans who share her Christianist sensibilities.
In the last election cycle, Democrats coined a powerful catchphrase to describe the antiquated attitudes that led some Republican candidates to utter absurdities about rape, contraception and abortion. “The War on Women” was a brilliant stroke and served to crystallize the differences between the parties on important social issues. And the policies Palin embraces would hurt women.
But the War on Palin has nothing to do with policy or justice. It's a reflection of how easily sexist insults go down in our charged political culture. Though Palin has describe Bashir's attack as typical of the way conservative women are treated, both sides are guilty, and liberal women are often on the receiving end. (Just ask Hillary Rodham Clinton or Elizabeth Warren.)
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut.” Sexism Hall of Famer Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “prostitute” and “slut” after she testified in Congress about women who need birth control pills for medical conditions. (I can't even bring myself to repeat the disgusting things liberal TV host Bill Maher calls women.)
None of these men have ever paid a meaningful price. Schultz apologized and was suspended for a week without pay. After a sustained outcry, Limbaugh apologized, sort of, and soon renewed his contract. Maher is an unrepentant sexist.
It’s fantastic for Palin that people still get so worked up about her. Misguided men like Bashir allow her to take the high road, accept the apologies ... and laugh all the way to the bank.
Twitter: @robinabcarianCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times