Eric Deggans of National Public Radio sat in the guest-host chair on CNN's "Reliable Sources" show on Sunday, and pressed Amy Holmes of TheBlaze TV several times on how she should be more forgiving of Martin Bashir's outrageous remarks about Sarah Palin. First, he suggested, "Martin Bashir apologized for his comments. He reached out to the Palin family.Is there really a problem here? Or are competitors and partisan people try to make an issue being made out of something that has already passed?"
One doesn't have to be a partisan to suggest an on-air apology might seem like a weak punishment. Holmes cited that MSNBC removed David Shuster from the air (never to return) for suggesting Hillary Clinton "pimped out" her daughter Chelsea on the campaign trail. So Deggans turned the issue to Glenn Beck, who Holmes works for: [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
DEGGANS: I'd like to push back just a bit and note that your boss, Glenn Beck, accused President Obama of being a racist. Later reconsidered his words, apologized, people moved on. Shouldn't Martin Bashir get the same sort of consideration?
HOLMES: I don't think the remarks compare. I can't speak for Glenn Beck. You know, you can make your decision about what you think about the president's racial outlook. But what Martin Bashir was doing was actually casting himself in the role of an 18th century slave owner who suggesting that Sarah Palin be treated to what we agree is vicious, vulgar punishment.
Surely, Deggans knows there's a difference in severity between an unsubstantiated charge that Obama hates white people versus the notion if Beck had said someone should defecate in the President's mouth. Demands to fire Beck would have been enormous if that had ever occurred.
Deggans did turn around and ask the other guest, Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple, if Bashir was getting easy treatment:
DEGGANS: Now, Erik, you said his apology should be enough and went to a book signing by Chris Matthews and asked him to comment on it. He wouldn't talk about it. But if that apology isn't coupled with some kind of punishment or suspension, is it really enough?
ERIK WEMPLE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, my point is in media, we apologize a lot, because we screw up a lot. So, this dance of screwing up big-time and then apologizing is something we do a lot. I though Bashir, I mean, there's controversy about whether Martin Bashir wrote his own apology. But whoever wrote, he seemed quite sincere, quite contrite, and I do believe that a good media apology needs to be celebrated at some level. It appears that he's genuinely regretful about what he had said and that he will learn and move on from this.
I mean, as NewsBusters itself, which is conservative media Web site, has shown, Bashir has done a lot of bomb-throwing in the past but never gotten this vile, this terrible in the past.
I don't know whether more is needed. I will say that I do think that the continued pressure that this hasn't gone away is not just a partisan thing. I think there's always a tipping point in these stories. At some point that tipping point is at which it either fades away or it has the fuel and has the fumes to keep going. And I think that this one somehow does. I don't think you can just contribute that to people who already hated Martin Bashir. I think what he did was really, really wrong and bad.