Martin Bashir

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Martin Bashir
Bashir at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan on May 5, 2007
Born (1963-01-19) 19 January 1963 (age 52)
Wandsworth, England, United Kingdom
Alma mater King's College London
Occupation Political commentator, journalist, news anchor, musician
Years active 1986–2013, 2015-present
Spouse(s) Deborah Bashir
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Martin Bashir (born 19 January 1963) is a British journalist who was a political commentator for MSNBC, hosting Martin Bashir,[1] and a correspondent for NBC's Dateline NBC. He was previously an anchor for ABC's Nightline after initially gaining prominence on British television with his BBC interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, and then his series of interviews with pop musician Michael Jackson on ITV. On 4 December 2013, Bashir resigned from his position at MSNBC after he made "ill-judged comments"[2] about the former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.[3]

Early life[edit]

Martin Bashir was born in Wandsworth, South London, to parents of Pakistani Christian origin, and grew up in Wandsworth. He was educated at the state comprehensive Wandsworth School for Boys, King Alfred's College of Higher Education, Winchester (since 2004 the University of Winchester), studying English and History from 1982–1985 and King's College London. He is fluent in English and Urdu. He identifies himself as a committed Christian.[4] Bashir has attended Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.[5][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, 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 for MSNBC until 4 December 2013, as well as an occasional substitute host for Lawrence O'Donnell.[1]

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

Michael Jackson interviews[edit]

In 2003, Bashir conducted a series of interviews with pop singer Michael Jackson, as part of a 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, claiming that he deliberately doctored the recordings in order to paint Jackson in an unflattering light,[9] as well as emphasising the allegations of child molestation made against Jackson. In an interview with Louis Theroux, Geller said that he felt betrayed by Bashir, and claimed that the ITV documentary had ruined Geller's own relationship with Michael.[10] The New York Times called Bashir's journalism style "callous self-interest masked as sympathy."[11]

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 also described Jackson as a wonderful father and said that Jackson's relationship with his children "almost makes me weep".[12]

Dieter Wiesner, the pop star's manager from 1996 to 2003, said of Bashir's documentary:

"It broke him. It killed him. He took a long time to die, but it started that night. Previously the drugs were a crutch, but after that they became a necessity."[13]

Bashir later said of Jackson during ABC's coverage of his death,

"When I made the documentary, there was a small part that contained a controversy concerning his relationship with young people. But the truth is that he was never convicted of any crime, and I never saw any wrongdoing myself."[14]

Juju Chang comments and suspension at ABC News[edit]

In 2008, while working as a reporter for Nightline, Bashir was suspended from ABC News after "making comments considered crude and sexist" during a dinner speech at the Asian American Journalists Association convention in Chicago.[2][15] 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."[15] 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,"[15] referring to Bashir's ABC News colleague Juju Chang, a reporter for 20/20.[15] ABC News suspended him.[15] 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."[15]

Sarah Palin comments and resignation from MSNBC[edit]

On 15 November 2013, Bashir criticized Sarah Palin for comments that she made comparing the Federal debt to slavery.[16] Bashir attempted to counter Palin's comparison by referencing the cruel and barbaric 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."[17][18]

After many[citation needed] complaints, Bashir apologised 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."[19][18] On 2 December, Bashir was suspended by the network and then resigned two days later.[18][3][20][21] 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."[3][22]


Bashir plays the electric bass guitar.[23] He released his first reggae album, Bass Lion, on 26 October 2010.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Nightline's Martin Bashir Headed to MSNBC, Dateline". 
  2. ^ a b Carter, Bill. Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC Over Palin Comments, New York Times, 4 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Christopher, Tommy. Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC, Mediaite, 4 December 2013.
  4. ^ Wells, Matt (22 January 2003). "Talk to me". The Guardian (Birmingham). 
  5. ^ "25th Anniversary weekend". Redeemer Presyterian Church website. September 18, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ Merritt, Jonathan (August 13, 2014). "How American Christians can stop being bullies and start winning converts". The Week. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  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. ^ Branigan, Tania (6 February 2003). "I was betrayed by Bashir, rages Jackson". Star complains to TV watchdogs over interview. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2013. Yesterday Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and the mother of his two eldest children, told GMTV that no one could be a better father. "It breaks my heart that anyone could truly believe Michael would do anything to harm our children, they are the most important thing in his life." 
  10. ^ Yapp, Will (Director); Theroux, Louis (Writer) (17 November 2003). Louis, Martin & Michael (Television production). BBC. 
  11. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (6 February 2003). "TELEVISION REVIEW; A Neverland World of Michael Jackson". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  12. ^ Low, Valentine (27 June 2009). "Michael Jackson: PR suicide with the help of Martin Bashir". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  13. ^ "Former manager unveils scale of Michael Jackson's drug use". (London). 1 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  14. ^ "Bashir: Jacko was the greatest". The Sun (London). 27 June 2009. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ "MSNBC not commenting on whether further action contemplated against Bashir", Associated Press via Washington Post (19 November 2013).
  17. ^ Williams, Rob. "Martin Bashir says Sarah Palin is an 'idiot' and suggests someone should defecate in her mouth", The Independent (18 November 2013).
  18. ^ a b c Byers, Dylan. MSNBC's Martin Bashir 'on vacation' after Sarah Palin remarks, Politico, 2 December 2013.
  19. ^ Coscarelli, Joe. "MSNBC Host Sorry for Saying Disgusting Thing About Sarah Palin’s Mouth", New York (18 November 2013).
  20. ^ Airens, Chris (4 December 2013). "Martin Bashir Out at MSNBC". TVNewser. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  21. ^ Kurtz, Howard. Martin Bashir quits at MSNBC over Palin slur, FOX News, 4 December 2013.
  22. ^ Ross, Robyn (3 December 2013). "Martin Bashir Resigns from MSNBC After Sarah Palin Scandal". SeattlePI.Com/TV Guide. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  23. ^ NBC Universal. "Martin Bashir". NBC Universal. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 
  24. ^ Salisbury, Vanita (15 February 2012). "Martin Bashir Can't Stand the Cost of Cat Boarding". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

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