- Television broadcaster who has worked for the BBC, ABC, and MSNBC
- Believes that Republicans and conservatives are racists, sexists, and elitists
Born in South London, England on January 19, 1963, Martin Bashir worked as a broadcaster for the BBC from 1986-99, and first came to wide prominence in 1995 when he interviewed Diana, Princess of Wales, about her failed marriage to Prince Charles. Bashir was then employed for a number of years by ABC Television, where he co-anchored the current-affairs show Nightline from 2005-10. In August 2010 he left ABC for MSNBC, where he served as a political commentator with his own daily program.
Bashir’s worldview is informed by the premise that Republicans and conservatives are, at heart, racists, sexists, and elitists. In July 2011, for example, Bashir grossly mischaracterized a pro-traditional-marriage pledge that Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum had signed. Drafted by The Family Leader, a conservative social group in Iowa, the pledge noted, among other things, that “a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.” According to Bashir, this “sounded like to me something of a Freudian slip that this organization does believe that African-American children were better off if their parents were slaves.” “Did two Republican [presidential] hopefuls really sign a pledge suggesting a return to the days of slavery?” he asked.
In October 2011, Bashir depicted pro-life conservatives as “misogynists” and called it “hardly surprising” that the proposed Protect Life Act, designed to bar federal funding for health-insurance plans that cover abortion services, “has earned the moniker the ‘Let Women Die Act.’” This legislation, said Bashir, was “yet another bill that takes dead aim at a woman’s right to choose.”
On January 6, 2012, Bashir denounced Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich for characterizing President Barack Obama, under whose watch the nation’s food-stamp rolls had reached a record-high 46 million, as “the most effective food-stamp president in American history.” The broadcaster was also angered by Republican Rick Santorum for saying, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money, I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” “There’s nothing subtle about Newt Gingrich or Mr. Santorum,” said Bashir. “Their comments are clearly targeted at the President, who’s black, and at other members of society, who haven’t made millions of dollars from lobbying.”1
In February 2012, Bashir depicted Santorum as a “theocrat” with a “totalitarian” mindset who had “asserted that the right to privacy does not exist” and had “equated same-sex relationships with bestiality.” “If you listen carefully to Rick Santorum, he sounds more like Stalin than Pope Innocent III,” said Bashir.
Portraying Congressional Republicans as insensitive to the needs of the poor, Bashir in October 2012 warned that if Repubican Paul Ryan’s “vicious and callous budget” were ever to pass, “then Meals on Wheels would be killed, transportation services to the disabled would be destroyed, food stamps would be eviscerated, [and] many Americans would end up in soup kitchens.”
When Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott advocated budget cuts to some programs that served disabled residents in early 2013, Bashir compared Scott to Nicolae Ceausescu, the late Romanian dictator who killed thousands of people through deprivations created by his austerity programs. “I was reminded of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania,” said Bashir, “whose treatment of disabled children there, which started in the 1970s, where they were hidden and housed in the most appalling conditions…. But is this [Scott’s] preference for disabled children in America in 2013?”
On January 14, 2013, Bashir condemned America’s “gun lobby” for “unashamedly invok[ing] the name of Adolf Hitler” when making the point that “history proves tyrannical leaders begin by robbing law-abiding citizens of their firearms.” “Of course,” said Bashir, “for a nation hell-bent on genocide, Hitler did not allow the Jews to possess firearms, but virtually everyone else was free to do so. Which I guess turns this story on its head. Because if anyone deserves to be equated with Hitler on the issue of firearms, then it’s not the President, it’s the NRA.”
In June 2013 Bashir addressed recent revelations that from April 2010 to April 2012, the Internal Revenue Service had delayed the processing of tax-exempt-status applications that it had received from hundreds of conservative Tea Party organizations. “Despite the complete lack of any evidence linking the president to the targeting of Tea Party groups,” said Bashir, “Republicans are using it as their latest weapon in the war against the black man in the White House.”
Bashir has long held former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in deep contempt, claiming that she “represents the very worst form of American opportunism: Vacuous, crass, and according to almost every biographer, vindictive too.” His denunciations reached new heights in November 2013, however, after Palin warned that America’s growing national debt would force future generations to live in a form of economic “slavery.” Taking umbrage at Palin’s analogy, Bashir derided her as “America’s resident dunce” and “a world class idiot” with a “long-deceased mind.” He then proceeded to state that “she would be the outstanding candidate” for a series of punishments described by a brutal slave overseer in the 1750s, who had written of one slave who was “well flogged and pickled,” another who was made to put “s-h-i-t in his mouth,” and yet another who was subjected to “piss in his eyes and mouth.” After 19 days of considerable controversy over his remarks, Bashir, professing to “deeply regret what was said,” resigned from from his MSNBC program on December 4, so as to allow his colleagues “at this special network … to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.”
1 A few days later, Bashir asserted that about 500,000 “more people were collecting food stamps under George W. Bush than are under President Obama.” But in fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that over 46 million Americans were on food stamps at the end of 2011, 40% more than the highest number of recipients ever recorded during the Bush years.