By now, everyone is familiar with Martin Bashir’s rant against Governor Palin on his MSNBC show this past Friday. This was the most vile thing a TV host has ever said about her, and it did not go unnoticed. Stacy chronicled Mark Levin’s response to it, and many others expressed their outrage over his editorial. Bashir took to the airwaves today to issue an apology for his comments. I believe we should be magnanimous in acknowledging Bashir’s apology was right in tone and words. He didn’t throw out the classic "I apologize if I offended anyone" non-apology apology that so many public figures spew after they put their foot in their mouth. He did what one has to do when one apologizes- he came across as sincere, he said the right things, and he stated he hopes to learn from his mistakes. While he should get credit for that, we should not give him too much credit, since that is what one should expect from someone who is giving an apology.
This raises the other question of what next. Now that Bashir has apologized, should that be the end of it? We certainly don’t want to make a federal case of this and drag this on for too long, especially on this site. If we were to pay attention and respond to every unfair criticism or smear of Governor Palin, all of the editors and contributors in this site would have to quit their days jobs to devote full time to that endeavor. None of us has the time, energy, desire, or financial resources to do that, so that activity is out of the question. And, when others have slighted Governor Palin in the past and later apologized, that has usually been enough. However, in a civil society actions have consequences. Sometimes, a sincere apology, while a good first step, is not enough. Bashir’s commentary on Friday is one of those cases.
Let’s take a look at one of Bashir’s assertions in which he states one of his goals is to "elevate political discourse." That is a worthwhile goal, but unfortunately Bashir has never practiced it. In a network filled from top to bottom with dishonest, bomb-throwing smear merchants, Bashir is one of the worst offenders. At foxnews.com, Howard Kurtz, who no reasonable person would ever identify as a conservative, pointed out this very fact. Here is a little of what he had to say:
I’ve long been amazed by Bashir’s brand of name-calling. He despises Republicans, we get it. But the highly personal nature of his assaults, while delivered in an erudite British accent, stands out even by the loose standards of cable news.
This guy was a co-anchor of “Nightline” when he was at ABC, but was apparently seething with liberal resentment that we now see displayed daily on his weekday show. MSNBC once suspended Ed Schultz for calling Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut”; why on earth does it tolerate Bashir’s brand of bile?
Bashir once said that the NRA “deserves to be equated with Hitler,” so he’s practiced at incendiary comparisons.
If Bashir really did have a reputation of someone who was trying to elevate the political discourse, there would be a small chance some would be willing to give him a mulligan on this one. While Friday’s commentary went over the top even by his standards, he has a pattern of using incendiary language against those who differ politically from him.
We also have acknowledge a very simply fact about Bashir’s editorial- on Friday afternoon, a man went on national TV and called for the physical assault of a woman. It is undeniable that there a rare instances when two guys will get in a heated verbal confrontation and use fighting words. Oftentimes, they don’t mean what they say literally, cooler heads prevail, and they both move on. We simply chalk it up to something that was said in the heat of battle. However, in a civil society it is never acceptable for a man to use that kind of language towards a woman. A normal, decent man would never even think of wishing violence on a woman, let alone express it verbally. Bashir did.
In Bashir’s case, he doesn’t even have the heat of battle excuse, although that excuse doesn’t apply here, since his vitriol was directed at a woman. Governor Palin made her comments on future generations being enslaved to debt in Iowa on Saturday, November 9th. Three days later, Jake Tapper of CNN asked her about those comments, and she responded. Governor Palin’s Iowa speech, especially the comments in question, were talked about for days across many different media outlets. This past Friday, a full six days after her analogy, Bashir gave his commentary. Since he makes a living as a political commentator, we can reasonably assume that he was not hearing about Governor Palin’s comments for the first time five minutes before he went on his rant. So, Bashir had days to think about what he was going to say, wrote his commentary, edited it, had it fed into the TelePrompTer, and read it live on the air. He could have expressed his disagreement with Governor Palin in a thousand different ways, but he chose to call for her physical assault.
Obviously, it goes without saying that if a conservative commentator such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Mark Levin called for violence against a left-wing female politician such as Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton, they would be fired and probably never work in media again. But besides that clear double standard, the one remaining question I have is what kind of darkness has to reside in a man that he would even think that about a woman? I fully understand that the political arena can get very emotional at times. We are engaged in a fight for the future of our county, and in which direction it will head. People have passionate views on both sides of the aisle. Many of us here live that passion every day. And we all know the other side can be infuriating with how unreasonable they can be. Nobody embodies that more than Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the House Minorty Leader and DNC Chair, respectively. We are all aware of their extreme left wing politics, which run contrary to everything this county stands for. But, they are also poison to the political discourse. They both engage in vile personal attacks against their opponents, and Wasserman-Schultz is a pathological liar. I have repeatedly said this about them and will continue to do so, because I believe it to be the truth. But, it is just a given that calling for any kind of violence against them or wishing it on them would be completely unacceptable. In fact, if it weren’t for Bashir’s comments on Friday, it would not even have to be mentioned. Can anyone think of one conservative man on TV, radio, or print who would wish or call for violence against a left-wing woman? I can’t. Yet, when Martin Bashir had days to deliver his commentary in response to something Governor Palin said, it’s the first thing that came to his mind.
I’m glad Martin Bashir issued his apology today. It seemed sincere, and it’s a good first step towards his healing. But it’s not enough. I’m not one to call for boycotts, and, well, the American people have pretty much already done that to both MSNBC and Bashir’s show. Thankfully, I don’t work for MSNBC, so really have no say in his future. However, I am of the view that before Martin Bashir is ever given the privilege of having a larger than average sized microphone to articulate his views, he should be required to figure out what demons reside inside of him that would cause him to even have those thoughts in the first place, let alone say them out loud to a national TV audience.