The Founding Fathers believed certain rights were so important they listed them in the 1st Amendment to the nation’s Constitution, and they certainly were specific in prohibiting the U.S. Congress from abridging any Americans’ right to assemble, exercise religion, speak freely, or express themselves in print. There is no group in America more fervent in their support of 1st Amendment rights than conservatives; particularly teabagger extremists and the religious right. However, they have claimed exclusive use of those rights in their crusade to suppress other Americans rights with frightening efficiency since the population elected an African American man as President. The practice of subverting the people’s 1st Amendment rights began under the aegis of the George W. Bush administration to quell opposition to its warmongering as it lied the nation into the Iraq War, but Bush and company at least kept the subversion out of the public eye; that has not been the case since conservatives rose to power after the 2008 presidential election.
If America is nothing else, it is a nation of rank inequality and disparity, and the same people promoting the rights of the rich over the rest of the population are guilty of upholding 1st Amendment rights of conservatives to subvert those of their perceived enemies. Conservatives could not wield inordinate power to restrict other Americans First Amendment rights without steadfast assistance from the all-encompassing conservative media, and besides prohibiting fair exchange of ideas from both sides of the political spectrum, they have enacted disciplinary policies for journalists who fail to toe the conservative line. The news that MSNBC political commentator Martin Bashir submitted his immediate resignation after a heartfelt meeting with the president of MSNBC is yet another example that there is a steep price to pay for any journalist expressing an opinion that is not supportive of, or cleared by, conservatives.
Martin Bashir’s mistake as a liberal commentator was two-fold; he articulated a widely-held opinion about a conservative charlatan, and he targeted mainstream media darling and perpetually self-identified victim Sarah Palin. It is true that Mr. Bashir was free to exercise his 1st Amendment right of free speech and freedom of the press, but he was not entitled to express his opinion with impunity; especially for exposing Palin’s moral deficiencies and pointing out her “well-established-reputation as a world-class idiot.”
Many news outlets, particularly on the left, errantly reported ad nauseum that “Bashir said someone should shit in Palin’s mouth,” but that simply is not true. However, left-leaning bloggers stated it as fact and parroted it mercilessly as if uttered from the mouth of god and those who repeated the lie are as complicit for the firestorm surrounding Bashir’s commentary as Palin’s phony outrage that led to his unwarranted apology and subsequent “resignation.” Regarding Bashir’s “resignation,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin paid “tribute” to Mr. Bashir and stated “I understand his decision. Martin is a good man and respected colleague – we wish him only the best.” Griffin’s tribute is as phony as the idea that there is freedom of speech and the press for liberal commentators, and is an affront to the definition of “good man and respected colleague.” Any decent human being, and American, would have supported a “good man and respected colleague” and defended Bashir’s 1st Amendment right of freedom of speech and told Palin to take her harpy victim act to Fox News, read the 1st Amendment on-air, and tell her ignorant acolytes why a “real American” demanded the “lame-stream media” take punitive action against a man for exercising his 1st Amendment rights.
Mr. Bashir is not completely without fault in this whole affair either. If he was expressing his true opinion, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, he should not have apologized, “resigned,” or claimed he “deeply regretted what was said.” All he did was embolden “America’s resident dunce” and empower her and conservative media to target and punish the next American who dares question, point out, or expose the certain instance of Palin’s morally insensitive remarks. Bashir is not the first, and likely not the last, journalist to experience the wrath of conservative media for exercising their 1st Amendment right of free speech, and besides the double-standard and hypocrisy rampant in America’s conservative media, it informs the 1st Amendment freedom of speech is reserved for conservative commentators exclusively.
What MSNBC accomplished by not supporting Bashir’s 1st Amendment right and journalistic freedom as a political commentator was muzzle, and pre-censor, the rest of the network’s on-air talent and send a strong message that expressing their opinion is perilous and risks termination whether it is through forced “resignation” or outright dismissal. They also positioned themselves as just another conservative media outlet serving the needs of “America’s world class idiot” evidenced by her gratitude for “the media who came out and said, look, our standards have to be higher than this.” Palin’s remarks are an insult to the media she perpetually insults for honest reporting, and an affront to Americans because no mainstream media outlet cited the blatant hypocrisy in her phony victim role.
Palin said she was “calloused,” and “at this point I’m used to it. My role is to accept his apology and be humble enough to accept it and move on.” But she clearly did not and cautioned “those with that platform, with a microphone, a camera in their face, they have to have some more responsibility taken.” It was clearly a warning to the next journalist that expressing their honest opinion about Palin will face conservative media’s wrath like this author for not apologizing, disavowing verified facts, or acknowledging anything other than exercising the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of the right of free speech. Mr. Bashir’s job was finished before his meeting with MSNBC president Phil Griffin or his alleged “resignation,” and the least he could have done was not give Palin the satisfaction of a humiliating apology. If he had to say anything, he should have confessed that he honestly believed exercising his freedom of speech was guaranteed in the 1st Amendment, accepted that it is a right reserved for conservatives like “America’s resident idiot,” and forced conservative MSNBC to terminate his employment.