The Ethics Duncehood Of WaPo Blogger Eric Wemple, And Martin Bashir’s Forced Apology For, Uh, Saying That Someone Should Defecate In Sarah Palin’s Mouth

When is an apparent #1 class apology not good enough? Well, in the case of the matter at hand, there are two reasons.

The apology in question came from Martin Bashir, who, as I mentioned in a previous post, used his MSNBC show to suggest that Sarah Palin’s overblown analogy between the financial burden on future generations created by U.S. debt and actual slavery warranted her having to submit to someone expelling excrement into her mouth, and urinating on her as well. He really did say this. On the air. Carefully and deliberately.

See? Yet suddenly, after the weekend, Bashir was contrite, and delivered as elegant and sincere-sounding apology as one could imagine:

“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. 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. I deeply regret what I said, and that I have learned a sober lesson in these last few days. That 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.”

This would qualify as a #1 class apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology List, which is defined as…

1. An apology motivated by the realization that one’s past conduct was unjust, unfair, and wrong, constituting an unequivocal admission of wrongdoing as well as regret, remorse and contrition, as part of a sincere effort to make amends and seek forgiveness.

But it was not, I think it fair to assume, so motivated. Bashir’s apology was motivated by a message from his bosses saying in essence, “Are you nuts? You say someone should shit in Sarah Palin’s mouth on the air? You apologize now, pronto, and as remorsefully as you can, or you will be be back writing posts for the Daily Kos and living on dog food, capiche?” Martin, being a boor and a jerk, but not a complete fool, complied.

How do I know this? Signature significance. Nobody who is as sensitive, reasonable, fair and ethical as Bashir feigns being in his lovely mea culpa would ever suggest that shitting in a woman’s mouth is appropriate, to do or to suggest, or to even describe in mixed company, even once on television. This wasn’t something Bashir blurted out in a moment of anger or fury. His attack on Palin was scripted and planned in advance, and he obviously saw nothing wrong with it…until he was threatened with termination, of course. Thus his #1 sounding apology must be downgraded to a #6:

6. A forced or compelled version of 1-4, when the individual (or organization) apologizing knows that an apology is appropriate but would have avoided making one if he or she could have gotten away with it.

The second factor that would render such an apology inadequate is when said apology is for a media personality, pundit or journalist stating publicly that someone ought to take a dump in Sarah Palin’s mouth. That is a firing offense, not a “now don’t do it again” warning offense. Isn’t that obvious? Does MSNBC maintain some kind of a list of people whose mouth one must never suggest that you want shit to enter, and those for whom such an expressed desire is considered rude, but forgivable? Isn’t the appropriate rule for national broadcast journalists, even vile demagogues like Bashir, that ” I wish somebody would shit in her mouth; that would teach her” is taboo? Why do I even have to write this?

Perhaps its because liberal journalists like the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple  are incomprehensibly tolerant of filthy attacks, as long as they are against people Wemple doesn’t like. Here is Wemple, on his blog, after quoting the offensive passage that got Bashir taken to the MSNBC woodshed:

“With those words, Bashir managed to accomplish a mammoth fail: matching Palin’s offensive statement and point of view with his own offensive statement and point of view.”

Matching? There is no match. Palin engaged in obnoxious hyperbole, the kind that we hear and read all too often, like all the Democrats and writers in the Washington Post that compared Sen. Ted Cruz and House Republicans to  terrorists, who, as I’m sure you know, kill people. Bashir said that someone should shit in her mouth. That’s not equivalent, or a tit-for-tat. Palin was wrong. Bashir was unethical, unprofessional, uncivil, hateful and disgusting.

Wemple needs to apologize.

Bashir needs to be fired.


Sources: Washington Times, Washington Post

25 thoughts on “The Ethics Duncehood Of WaPo Blogger Eric Wemple, And Martin Bashir’s Forced Apology For, Uh, Saying That Someone Should Defecate In Sarah Palin’s Mouth

    • “Cos’ it’s a bittersweet symphony this life…
      ’cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life
      Trying to make ends meet , you’re a slave to the money then you die.

      The Verve must be shat on!

      • Which dovetails into the post soliciting ethics pop songs (I have almost 40 submissions, by the way—working my way through them):

        You load sixteen tons, what do you get
        Another day older and deeper in debt
        Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
        I owe my soul to the company store

  1. I don’t believe that Palin’s comment on the subject was that far out in left field. There has been, and still is to some extent, active “Debt slavery”.

    From Wiki: “Debt bondage (or bonded labor) is a person’s pledge of their labor or services as repayment for a loan or other debt. The services required to repay the debt may be undefined, and the services’ duration may be undefined. Debt bondage can be passed on from generation to generation.[1]

    Debt bondage was very common in Ancient Greece. In ancient Athens, Solon forbade taking out loans using oneself as a security and ended any current such debts. In modern times, debt bondage is most prevalent in South Asia.[1] Debt bondage in India was legally abolished in 1976 but it remains prevalent.”

    Now, I forecast we will default on the debt before an actual debt slavery scenario presents itself. If it were to present itself, I believe it would be in the form of a “head tax” that everyone has to pay regardless of net worth or income. Essentially forcing everyone to a certain amount of labor to pay off their share of the debt. Improbable perhaps, but not impossible.

  2. When will the time come when everyone gets together from all sides and says enough of this? Or as we have discussed before is chivalry truly dead? This is the type of incident in which the threat of job loss should have followed him getting his ass kicked by the nearest man who had any sense of honor.

    • Ummm, I don’t think Jack would think it was ethical to physically attack someone you don’t even know because you didn’t like something he said to a third party. This isn’t medieval Europe where knights challenged each other to jousts, or Tokugawa Japan, where the samurai drew their swords if someone looked at them cross-eyed. Just a hunch.

      • So if the attacker knew her it would be ethical? You do realize that this was not something he said to a third party but to the world. He attacked her, with the intention of publically humiliating her. His intent was not to attack her ideas but to demean and dehumanize her. I had in mind more of 19th Century United States but the principals are much the same, but more to the point is that civility is important to society. What do you think would happen to bullying if someone were willing to step up and confront the bully? If someone said that on TV about your wife or daughter wouldn’t you knock the shit out of them? Or would you call a lawyer?

      • False. There are ways of discourse to get a jerk who is abusing a third party to actually start the fight so you can teach a solid lesson and hopefully get him closer to a paradigm shift. You see, brutes (barbarians) are generally guided by emotions, and those are such easy things to manipulate.

      • Steve-O, I don’t typically wish harm to anyone, even guys like Bashir who say jerky things like he said about Palin. But after watching that video, I caught myself fantasizing about her kicking a stiletto through Bashir’s oysters (if he has any), all by herself.

  3. Oh GOODY! My latest favorite of Jack’s quotables applies AGAIN – same DAY, even:

    “[Martin Bashir’s is a]…show that I [am not] able to watch for more than five minutes at a stretch without feeling like Lex Luthor’s diabolical brain sucking device [i]s reducing my IQ to that of an electric pencil sharpener.”

    “Palin was wrong.” How so?

    If your interest obligations on your debt are your biggest cost – and (as will also happen with federal debt, eventually, given that current trends will continue) exceed even your annual income – what else is a lender going to call his own and which represents your “payment,” besides pieces of your (living or dead) body?

    • It’s wrong because, as with the Holocaust, the victims of some kinds of inhuman treatment deserve the basic respect of not being used as cheap and exaggerated metaphors when the enormity of what was done to them cannot possibly be approached by whatever is being compared to their abuse. That’s why she is wrong. Similarly, Dick Cheney isn’t Hitler, and Barack Obama isn’t Vlad the Impaler. My kid’s quality of life may be diminished by the economic burden of the debt, but he isn’t going to be sold, whipped, hobbled, or have someone shit in his mouth.

      I think its pretty obvious, frankly.

      • Maybe it’s “obvious” if you reject the valuation of a figurative impact of what someone subjects someone else to, as inherently unequal to a literal impact. But I accept the effective equivalence of figurative and literal, in what Palin said. I think the realities that people face who are on the brink of multi-generational destitution amply demonstrate how the figurative and literal are indistinguishable. So I think Palin’s valuation is fair, and fair warning. It’s the difference between trying to wake up someone from a deep sleep who urgently needs waking up by using a vibrating pillow, versus slamming cymbals.

      • But then, the version of American slavery was particularly reprehensible – throughout the ages, the term ‘slavery’ has always had its shadier sides being really ugly, but that’s exactly why the Bible has rules for the proper treatment of a slave – which are infuriatingly used so often as ‘proof’ that the Bible endorses slavery.

        Sure, the fact that when applied to say, the Roman idea slavery is a stretch which really relies on focus on minutia, but then, aren’t insistances that a more apt comparison would be to mideval serfdom, sharecroppers, the plight of the irish/chinese railroad workers, or indentured servitude also? Apt they may be, but with the woeful state of education in this country ‘Debt is as bad as Indentured Servitude!’ isn’t exactly much of a rallying cry. And she wouldn’t exactly be doing her side much a service by trying to make it one.

        When the only metaphors which can even be UNDERSTOOD are the big, obvious ones, it doesn’t do much to insist that those be held in abeyance out of respect for the trials and privations suffered by the original victims.

        Also, it’s tenuous, but I can see parallels between Vlad’s tactic of mounting corpses as a tactic of horror in order to dispirit enemy forces with Obama’s use of drones. It’s not a great connection, but that’s why it’s a metaphor, and not a direct comparison.

        • “When the only metaphors which can even be UNDERSTOOD are the big, obvious ones, it doesn’t do much to insist that those be held in abeyance out of respect for the trials and privations suffered by the original victims.”

          Yes, I agree, because to do such holding-in-abeyance is to (here comes a verb) “KathleenParker” the ugliness of the impending oppression to the point of making the sounding of any alarm more easily negligible than a mosquito’s fart* – as well as set the stage for the same past oppression to be repeated, and more expeditiously.

          (*since we’re talking in context of possible acts of excretion into person’s mouths)

          “Metaphor-use is no job for weenies (including Martin Bashir).”

        • How is that a similar analogy? “Slave” is a good word and a useful one—the Founders used it a lot, and it was not usually in relation to slavery on the plantations, as George’s was not here. Sarah’s was, as her “racist” comment beforehand signaled (and as Taranto said, if you feel you have to say, “now this isn’t racist!”, its time to say something else.)

  4. I am no fan of Sarah Palin.
    I think some of the dumb stuff she comes out with makes all Conservatives look bad.
    Mostly I just wish she would go away.
    However, this remark by Scum-sucker Bashir crosses a line for me.
    It also tells me something about the people who are defending him.

    • “I am no fan of Sarah Palin.”

      Me neither, insofar as for any more elected or appointed political offices. She belongs on the McLaughlin Group – as a kind of anti-Clift. But I will defend her against attacks like Bashir made, even if I never vote for her.

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