Friday, December 06, 2013

Remorseful, He Had To Go

On Friday, November 15, Mediaite wrote at the time, MSNBC's Martin Bashir

played a clip of Palin’s comments from last weekend, in which she told a crowd at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition event, “Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children, and borrowing from China. When that note comes due — and this isn’t racist, so try it. Try it anyway. This isn’t racist. But it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due.”

“It will be like slavery,” Bashir repeated. “Given her well-established reputation as a world class idiot, it’s hardly surprising that she should choose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone who knows anything about its barbaric history.”

“So here’s an example,” Bashir continued. “One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years. Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer, who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750, and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation.”

“What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime,” Bashir added. “In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’”

“This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity. And he mentions a similar incident in 1756, his time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. ‘Flogged punch well, and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper, made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth,’” Bashir recited.

“I could go on, but you get the point,” Bashir said, concluding “When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.”

Bashir's remarks were rather loathsome, even though comparing anything to slavery (as Palin did) is bad behavior itself.  (The video below is of the Young Turks' Cenk Uygur, dismissed from MSNBC in mid-2011, though because he was not averse to criticizing Barack Obama.) The following Monday, Bashir did something extraordinary. He issued an "unreserved apology"- not to the classic 'anyone who might have been offended' but to the ex-governor's friends and family, her supporters, and MSNBC viewers.  His words, he conceded, were "wholly unacceptable," inaccurate, unfair, and "unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics." "They brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network" and, Bashir, added, no one but he was responsible for the remarks

He requested a vacation and this week issued a statement explaining

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.

Forthright, contrite,and repentant, Bashir had to go. Once a public figure has admitted that he alone is responsible for his transgression and it is completely unjustified and unjustifiable, he is cooked.

That only encouraged Karl Rove.   Appearing on "The O'Reilly Factor" on GOP TV

Rove acknowledged that “everybody does make mistakes” while in the heat of the moment and on air, but he said Bashir “prepared” his attack against Palin calling it “more than just sort of a misstatement.”

“This was a deliberate attempt to engage in the most foul and disgusting kind of commentary on a political opponent,” Rove said.

Rove also slammed the network, which he said “made it appear like he resigned on his own, which was a mistake.”

Outrageous statements by individuals in the public eye are not uncommon, such as the one made in 2010 by the chairman and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, one of the world's largest private-equity firms. The New York Post at the time reported

Stephen Schwarzman—the leading John McCain supporter in a firm that, in 2008, gave more money to Obama—was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose. “It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

Attendees at the board meeting (who provided details on condition that they and the organization not be identified) were shocked. “War? Hitler? Poland? A little over the top for a proposal to make hedge-fund managers pay their fair share in taxes,” one attendee says about the comments.

Blackstone is still president and CEO of the Blackstone Group, perhaps because unlike Bashir, he followed an apology with a "however."

Rove was silent about Blackstone. Nor has he criticized the talk show host who has said: “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”; "Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it;"  and to an African-American female caller “take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”  Calling Senator Obama a "halfrican American" has been followed by equally reprehensible remarks about President Obama.  Rove is still silent.

MSNBC, though it pushed Bashir out the door, nevertheless did so while allowing the host to retain some dignity.  That's how it's done in most public, private, and non-profit organizations, in which humiliation of the employee is generally avoided because it's unnecessary.   Rove, however, complains "They let him go off and have his pre-arranged holiday. Then they came back and then let him sound like it was his idea and express their regret at his departure."

Sarah Palin, uncharacteristically, reacted with near-class, responding in part "My role is to accept his apology and be humble enough to accept it and move on."  Karl Rove could not even clear the bar set by Sarah Palin- behavior far more outrageous than anything attributed to Martin Bashir.

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