MSNBC host Martin Bashir
opened his program Monday with an apology to Sarah Palin. He had gone off on Palin on Friday, calling her America's "resident dunce" and a "world-class idiot."
But the apology more likely stemmed from a more explicit suggestion.
Bashir on Friday played a video of Palin speaking to Iowa's Faith and Freedom Coalition in which she compared the United States' national debt to slavery.
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Story continues below video.
Palin has used the slavery analogy in other contexts and has been criticized for it. She said she expected she would be slammed for it again, but used the analogy anyway.
After the original video clip, Bashir read from the diary of British overseer Thomas Thistlewood, who described a series of inhumane punishments inflicted on a slave.
"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."
A petition was posted on TruthRevolt.org
calling for MSNBC to "Stop the Sexist Martin Bashir." It seeks 2,000 signatures by Jan. 1, and had almost 1,300 just after Bashir issued the apology on Monday afternoon.
"I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin, and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said," Bashir said. "My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics, and they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said.
"America leads the world in the battle of ideas," he said, "but what I did on Friday had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that great tradition, and I am deeply sorry. Upon reflection, I so wish that I had been more thoughtful, more considerate, more compassionate, but I was not. And what I said is now a matter of public record."
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Bashir said he deeply regrets the comments, adding that he has "learned a sober lesson."
He said, "The politics of vitriol and destruction is a miserable place to be, and a miserable person to become. And I promise that I will take the opportunity to learn from this experience. My hope is that it will renew in me a spirit of humility and humanity, that looks for the good and that builds upon the great things that this country has to offer to all of us, regardless of our political persuasion. This will be my guiding light and compass in the days ahead."
MSNBC skews left, especially during evening hours, with hosts such as the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Matthews. It recently suspended its newest host, Alec Baldwin
, after he used a gay slur against a reporter covering the trial of a woman accused of stalking him.
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