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Martin Bashir

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Martin Bashir
Bashir in May 2007
Martin Henry Bashir

(1963-01-19) 19 January 1963 (age 56)
Alma mater
  • Journalist
  • news anchor
Years active1986–present
Notable credit(s)
Living with Michael Jackson
Spouse(s)Deborah Bashir
Musical career
  • Bass guitar

Martin Henry Bashir (born 19 January 1963) is an English journalist and news anchor. He came to prominence on British television with his BBC interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, and then his fly-on-the-wall documentary with pop singer Michael Jackson on ITV. On 4 December 2013, Bashir resigned from his position at MSNBC after he made comments described as "ill-judged" about the former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.[1][2][3]

Bashir was born and raised in Wandsworth, London, to parents of Pakistani Christian origin. He started work as a journalist in 1986. He worked for the BBC until 1999 on programmes including Songs of Praise, Public Eye and Panorama and then joined ITV. Bashir was an anchor for ABC's Nightline, a political commentator for MSNBC, hosting Martin Bashir,[4] and a correspondent for NBC's Dateline NBC. Bashir was appointed as BBC News Religious Affairs correspondent from October 2016, taking over the post from Caroline Wyatt.[5]

Early life

Bashir was born and raised in Wandsworth, London, to parents of Pakistani Christian origin. He was educated at the state comprehensive Wandsworth School for Boys and King Alfred's College of Higher Education, Winchester, studying English and History from 1982–1985, and at King's College London. Bashir was one of five children, one of whom suffered from muscular dystrophy and died in 1991. Bashir dedicates his decisions in life to his brother, including his appearance on Celebrity X Factor. Bashir said in 2019 "Every time I have faced a challenge I have heard him whispering saying, 'What excuse do you have? You have no excuse.'"[6]


He started work as a journalist in 1986. He worked for the BBC until 1999 on programmes including Songs of Praise, Public Eye and Panorama and then he joined ITV, working on special documentary programmes and features for Tonight with Trevor McDonald.

Bashir came to wide prominence in 1995 when he interviewed (for the BBC's Panorama programme) Diana, Princess of Wales about her failed marriage to the Prince of Wales.[7][8] Since then he has conducted interviews with, among others, Louise Woodward, the five suspects in the Stephen Lawrence case, Michael Barrymore, Jeffrey Archer, Major Charles Ingram, Michael Jackson, and Joanne Lees.

Bashir was employed by ABC and co-anchored their current affairs show Nightline. Along with Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran, he took over Nightline from Ted Koppel in 2005.

In August 2010 Bashir left ABC for MSNBC where he served as a political commentator until 4 December 2013, as well as an occasional substitute host for Lawrence O'Donnell.[4]

It was announced in September 2016 that Bashir was returning to the BBC as religious affairs correspondent.[9]

Bashir had a role as himself in the satirical comedy film Mike Bassett: England Manager.

In 2003, Bashir presented a documentary titled "Major Fraud" detailing the story of British Army Major Charles Ingram who cheated his way to the prize money in a 2001 episode of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

Michael Jackson interviews

In 2003, Bashir conducted a series of interviews with pop singer Michael Jackson, as part of an ITV documentary Living with Michael Jackson, which Uri Geller, a friend of Jackson's, had arranged. Following the broadcast, which was viewed by 14 million in the UK and 38 million in the US, Jackson complained to the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Commission, accusing Bashir of yellow journalism. In response, Jackson and his personal cameraman released a rebuttal interview, which showed Bashir complimenting Jackson for the "spiritual" quality of the Neverland Ranch.

Bashir defended the documentary, stating, "I don't believe that I've betrayed Michael Jackson at all. I agreed that we would make an honest film about his life. The film was fair to his musical achievement and gave him every opportunity to explain himself. I'm not accusing anybody of being a child molester or a paedophile."[10]

After Jackson's death in 2009, Dieter Wiesner, the pop star's manager from 1996 to 2003, said of Bashir's documentary:

Bashir later said during ABC's coverage of Jackson's death:

Juju Chang comments and suspension at ABC News

In 2008, while working as a reporter for Nightline, Bashir was suspended from ABC News after making remarks described as "crude and sexist" during a dinner speech at the Asian American Journalists Association convention in Chicago.[1][13] During the speech, he stated, "I'm happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes. I'm happy that the podium covers me from the waist down."[13] He continued and said that a speech should be "like a dress on a beautiful woman – long enough to cover the important parts and short enough to keep your interest – like my colleague Juju's,"[13] referring to Bashir's ABC News colleague Juju Chang, a reporter for 20/20.[13] ABC News suspended him.[13] He wrote an apology to the journalist association which stated, "Upon reflection, it was a tasteless remark that I now bitterly regret. I … hope that the continuing work of the organization will not be harmed or undermined by my moment of stupidity."[13]

Sarah Palin comments and resignation from MSNBC

On 15 November 2013, Bashir criticized Sarah Palin for comments that she made comparing the Federal debt to slavery.[14] Bashir attempted to counter Palin's comparison by referencing the punishment of slaves described by slave overseer Thomas Thistlewood, specifically a punishment called "Derby's dose" which involved forcing slaves to defecate or urinate into the mouth of another slave as punishment. Bashir then concluded by saying "if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate."[15][16]

Bashir apologized on 18 November, stating among other things: "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."[16][17] On 2 December, Bashir was suspended by the network and then resigned two days later.[2][16][18][19] He issued a statement upon his resignation that said, "I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers."[2][20] As of January, 2017, he is the Religion Editor for the BBC.[citation needed]


Bashir enjoys playing bass guitar.[21] He released a reggae album, Bass Lion, on 26 October 2010.[22] In October 2019, he began competing in The X Factor: Celebrity.[23]

Personal life

Bashir is fluent in English and Urdu. He identifies as a committed Christian,[24] and has occasionally been seen visiting Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.[25][26] He and his wife Deborah have three children: Samuel, Phoebe and Eliza.[27]


  1. ^ a b Carter, Bill. "Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC Over Palin Comments", The New York Times, 4 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Christopher, Tommy. Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC, Mediaite, 4 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Princess Diana made him, Sarah Palin destroyed him: the rise and fall". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Nightline's Martin Bashir Headed to MSNBC, Dateline".
  5. ^ "Martin Bashir appointed BBC religious affairs correspondent". BBC News. 26 September 2016.
  6. ^ Jeffries, Mark. "Martin Bashir on heartbreaking death that made him do Celebrity X Factor". The Mirror. Archived from the original on 5 December 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Transcript of the BBC1 Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales". Great Interviews of the 20th century. The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  8. ^ "Neophyte reporter makes journalistic coup". Manila Standard. 18 November 1995. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Martin Bashir returns to BBC News as religious affairs correspondent – Press Gazette". Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Bashir defends Jacko interview".
  11. ^ "Former manager unveils scale of Michael Jackson's drug use". London. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  12. ^ ABC News (25 June 2009). "Bashir: The Greatest Entertainer Has Died". Retrieved 26 March 2018 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Kurtz, Howard (5 December 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Martin Bashir, out at MSNBC over Palin slur, was previously suspended". FOX News. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  14. ^ "MSNBC not commenting on whether further action contemplated against Bashir", Associated Press via Washington Post (19 November 2013).
  15. ^ Williams, Rob. "Martin Bashir says Sarah Palin is an 'idiot' and suggests someone should defecate in her mouth", The Independent (18 November 2013).
  16. ^ a b c Byers, Dylan. MSNBC's Martin Bashir 'on vacation' after Sarah Palin remarks, Politico, 2 December 2013.
  17. ^ Coscarelli, Joe. "MSNBC Host Sorry for Saying Disgusting Thing About Sarah Palin’s Mouth", New York (18 November 2013).
  18. ^ Airens, Chris (4 December 2013). "Martin Bashir Out at MSNBC". TVNewser. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  19. ^ Kurtz, Howard. Martin Bashir quits at MSNBC over Palin slur, FOX News, 4 December 2013.
  20. ^ Ross, Robyn (3 December 2013). "Martin Bashir Resigns from MSNBC After Sarah Palin Scandal". SeattlePI.Com/TV Guide. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  21. ^ NBC Universal. "Martin Bashir". NBC Universal. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  22. ^ Salisbury, Vanita (15 February 2012). "Martin Bashir Can't Stand the Cost of Cat Boarding". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  23. ^ Duke, Simon (12 October 2019). "When is X Factor: Celebrity on? ITV show returns with star lineup". Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  24. ^ Wells, Matt (22 January 2003). "Talk to me". The Guardian. Birmingham.
  25. ^ "25th Anniversary weekend". Redeemer Presbyterian Church website. 18 September 2014. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  26. ^ Merritt, Jonathan (13 August 2014). "How American Christians can stop being bullies and start winning converts". The Week. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Journalist Martin Bashir, age 53, shares how he fell in love with his wife all over again while battling cancer".

External links

Preceded by
Ted Koppel
Nightline anchor
28 November 2005 – 6 August 2010
With Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden
Succeeded by
Bill Weir
With Terry Moran and Cynthia McFadden