A few weeks back MSNBC host Martin Bashir leveled a severely brash commentary against Sarah Palin’s comment comparing the continued borrowing of money from China to slavery. While his point was to accurately lay out the imbalance between two things she’d claimed were equally distressing, his delivery was almost schoolyard in its immaturity. Cries from both sides, right and left, induced Bashir on the very next night to apologize for his crude manners and his choice of words. Then after a few days of vacation Bashir and his MSNBC bosses concluded that he should step down from the show permanently.
Was this a fair turn of events? Did his apology hold no weight at all? I wasn’t a regular viewer of his show, mainly because I didn’t like his attack dog style. I saw him conduct an interview with two guests, one on each side of the political spectrum, in which he continually talked over the person from the right while defending the person on the left against being cut off. It was unambiguous bias, plain and simple, which for me is a turn-off for any show claiming to try and get to the “truth.”
While I may not have liked Bashir, I did what every person in the industrialized world has the right to do: Change the channel. Don’t watch.
In regards to the statement he made which ended in his resignation, he won’t be the last host to step over the line and for sure wasn’t the first. The oddity is that you don’t find hosts on the right losing their spots for incredibly inflammatory remarks. Rush Limbaugh suffered a fairly costly evacuation of advertising dollars after he repeatedly called Sandra Fluke, a young female Georgetown student, a “slut” just because she had the gall to defend the idea of contraception being paid for by health insurance. But in the end he still has his show and Clear Channel stuck by him. Sean Hannity also has made his share of not only outrageous remarks, but also blatant lies on his show (as proven by fact checkers). Again, for someone claiming to be there to inform and educate the viewing public, creating so-called facts out of thin air and disguising the truth to suit your own needs seem like good grounds for termination to me.
But before you go thinking that I think Limbaugh and Hannity should be taken off the air, that’s not the point I’m trying to make. What I believe is that justice and repercussions for equal offenses should be equal along the political spectrum. If Ted Nugent gets to run around telling Hillary Clinton to “ride his machine gun into the sunset”, among other ever-increasing vulgarities, Bashir should be able to live past childish remarks which he quickly recanted.
The other lesson to be learned from the recent banishing of foul-mouthed personalities from the MSNBC lineup (here’s looking at you, Alec Baldwin) is that free speech is a right, but being paid to be on television is not.