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.