Weeks after his controversial comments about Sarah Palin led to an extended absence from MSNBC, talk show host Martin Bashir has resigned his position at the network.
In a statement posted to the website Mediaite, Bashir express great regret at his comments and had high praise for network colleagues who stood by him as calls for him to step down mounted.
“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,” Bashir said. “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.”
In a November broadcast, after the former governor of Alaska and conservative firebrand compared the nation’s fiscal issues to slavery, Bashir called Palin a “world-class idiot” with a “long-deceased mind” and cited the first person account of a slave overseer named Thomas Thistlewood who described forcing slaves to urinate and defecate in one another’s mouths.
“When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance,” Bashir said. “She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.”
Bashir took a leave of absence from MSNC almost immediately after making the comments, in what the network described as an extended vacation. Today, in a statement, MSNBC president Phil Griffin had high praise for the host, who has headlined his own show there since 2012.
“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,” he said.
Bashir’s resignation marks the second high profile departure from MSNBC in little more than a month. Last week, actor Alec Baldwin ended his brief Friday night interview show after video footage surfaced of him shouting homophobic slurs at paparazzo photographers.
Bashir’s comments quickly set off a firestorm among conservative media watchers. TruthRevolt, a new media watchdog outfit associated with the website Breitbart.com called on advertisers to cease sponsoring the show. The group’s head, Ben Shapiro said in an email that commentators should be put on notice.
“Leftist hosts have made statements like this before, but they were rarely held accountable. That's what TruthRevolt does,” he said.