NEW YORK – Sarah Palin has cancelled a planned interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer at her home in Alaska in the wake of MSNBC commentator Martin Bashir’s suggestion that she deserved a graphic punishment for a remark on slavery.
An NBC executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person is not involved in the “Today” show booking confirmed the cancellation on Wednesday. It was first reported by Fox News.
NBC is trying to reschedule the holiday-oriented appearance.
The MSNBC afternoon host anchored his show on Wednesday.
Palin’s political action committee has asked NBC News whether Bashir will be disciplined for his comments about the former Alaska governor, which the PAC called appalling.
Bashir apologized Monday for suggesting that Palin be punished for a remark she made about slavery by having someone defecate in her mouth. He made the commentary on his MSNBC show on Friday afternoon.
Tim Crawford, treasurer of Palin’s PAC, said in a letter to NBC News President Deborah Turness and MSNBC chief Phil Griffin that “Americans deserve to know that your network doesn’t condone violent and hateful rhetoric.”
NBC News and MSNBC representatives did not have any immediate answers about Bashir’s status today.
Bashir had attacked Palin and her “long-diseased mind” after playing video of a speech where she compared the United States’ potential indebtedness to China to slavery. He told the story of Thomas Thistlewood, a former overseer at a plantation who described in diaries how he dealt with wayward slaves by, in one case, having another slave defecate in the mouth of the miscreant. In another case, someone urinated in the face of a slave being punished.
Bashir said that when Palin talks about slavery, she’s a candidate for the same punishment.
Crawford noted that MSNBC on Friday suspended Alec Baldwin for two weeks for an anti-gay remark made in a street confrontation, and fired Don Imus in 2007 for an offensive comment about members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
Crawford said he wondered whether discipline had more to do with the target of the remarks rather than the remarks themselves.
Meanwhile today, Palin posted on Facebook her brother’s response to a tweet by singer Cher referring to Palin as a “dumb C word.” It’s not clear what set the singer off, although her tweet came on the same day of Bashir’s telecast.
Palin’s brother, Chuck Heath, said he was sorry to hear Cher make such “vile comments” about his sister.
“It’s sad because Sarah has never had a harsh word to say about you,” Heath wrote. “In fact, our grandmother was one of your biggest fans.”