Daytime host Martin Bashir has resigned from MSNBC in the wake of controversial comments he made about Sarah Palin, the former candidate for vice president and popular conservative pundit. The anchor’s departure marks the second recent imbroglio for the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news outlet, which recently parted ways with actor and Friday-night host Alec Baldwin over similar unpleasant remarks.
“Martin Bashir resigned today, effective immediately,” said Phil Griffin, the network’s president, in a statement. ” 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.”
Bashir, who hosted a 4 p.m. program on the network, has not been on the air in days, with MSNBC spokespersons telling people he was taking a vacation. In November, Bashir, a documentarian who has worked for the BBC and served as a co-host of ABC News’ “Nightline,” suggested Palin should be made to suffer slave-like conditions that involved the forced consumption of feces.
He apologized for the remarks subsequently, but that action has not diminished calls for him to be taken off the network.
In a statement, Bashir said he had taken “time out around the Thanksgiving holiday” after making an on-air apology. ” 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,” he said.
Joy-Ann Reid has been hosting at 4 p.m. during Bashir’s absence, and is slated to host today’s hour as well, said Lauren Skowronski, an MSNBC spokeswoman, via email. “We’ll have an announcement about a permanent replacement host in the coming weeks,” she said.
The resignation adds to a strained time at the outlet, which took newly-christened Friday-night host Alec Baldwin off the air November 15 in the wake of an anti-gay slur he was heard uttering during a street conflict with press photographers. While Baldwin and Bashir do not represent the bread and butter of the lineup, their remarks are likely to fuel increased scrutiny of MSNBC’s programming and partisan stance. The network has long presented itself as a place for progressive political views.