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Oh Martin

TV journalist Martin Bashir has apologised for making what he called a “tasteless” comment about Asian women.

Speaking at the Asian American Journalists Association annual banquet in Chicago, he said: “I’m happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes. In fact, I’m happy that the podium covers me from the waist down.”

But in a letter published in New York magazine, the 45-year-old said: “Upon reflection, it was a tasteless remark that I now bitterly regret.”

Bashir currently hosts the news documentary show 20/20 on US TV network ABC. Jeffrey Schneider, a spokesman for the channel, said: “This kind of remark has no place in any setting and Martin knows that and is truly sorry for his serious error in judgment.”

Bashir made the speech last month with his 20/20 co-presenter Juju Chang standing nearby on the stage. He went on to say 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”.

As audience members booed the comment, Ms Chang said: “See what I have to put up with?” [BBC]


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2008 09:50 am (UTC)
Oh, dear Gods, who gave this man his journalism degree?
Aug. 7th, 2008 09:52 am (UTC)
This kind of remark has no place in any setting

ANY setting? Is he sure?

I think this is an example of a cultural misunderstanding. Americans don't tolerate casual sexism as well as English people do, in the same way that English people don't tolerate casual racism as well as Americans do. Both shouldn't happen at all, and definitely shouldn't happen in a speech at a banquet, but I imagine something like that wouldn't have ruffled feathers quite so badly in the UK.

I say this as an American woman whose only experiences of feeling squirmily uncomfortable about casual woman-related remarks have happened in the UK for the past 10 years, but who was glad to trade that for the lack of squirmily uncomfortable casual race-related remarks that happened so often in the US.

Edited at 2008-08-07 09:56 am (UTC)
Aug. 7th, 2008 10:02 am (UTC)
But doesn't "Asian babes" have a nuance all of its own? Its pornographic origin arguably makes it intrinsically demeaning for both race and gender. Good work there, Martin!
Aug. 7th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
In that case it's proper setting is somewhere between Chicago and London. Unfortunately I imagine the ocean is rather deep there. Oh, Martin!
Aug. 7th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)
"Asian Babes" is a well known soft core UK porn magazine which Bashir would definitely have known the existence of. He was probably bored or pissed. Or both.
Aug. 7th, 2008 10:25 am (UTC)
The part of that interview that was edited out:

BASHIR: Do you think Mrs Parker-Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?

DIANA: Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.

BASHIR: You're effectively living separate lives, yet in public there's this appearance of this happily married royal couple. How was this regarded by the Royal Family?

DIANA: I think everybody was very anxious because they could see there were complications but didn't want to interfere, but were there, made it known that they were there if required.

BASHIR: I've got a stiffy just looking at you, you know. I'll hold my clipboard here so you can't see it.
Aug. 7th, 2008 10:38 am (UTC)
Well that conclusively proves Bashir is secretly gay. No heterosexual man would have ever wanted to bang Diana, Princess of Hearts or whatever the fuck her title was. Or Kylie. Or post "Desperately Seeking Susan" Madonna.
Aug. 7th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
That's crazy talk! I am pretty hetero and yet there's almost no-one I want to 'bang' more than Madonna circa Like A Prayer/Cherish.
Aug. 7th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
While "Like A Prayer" era Madonna is not without her charms i prefer the younger, hanging out in clubs, eating from bins and sleeping with producers version.
Aug. 7th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
Well, at least he called them Asian babes instead of chinky hoes. : )
Aug. 7th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Some kind of chain-mail gardening implement? :)
Aug. 7th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
Precisely. I'd be really annoyed if someone called me a spade. ; )
Aug. 7th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
Surely the sight of one of TV’s creepiest men making himself even creepier is a spectacle all the family can enjoy.

Great response here from journalist Anna Chen in the Guardian:
An excitable Martin Bashir landed himself in trouble last week when he gave voice to the apparently sexist undertow of his inner world at a journalists' banquet in Chicago. It's not so much that he addressed the assembled women as "Asian babes" that so appals, or even that he did everything except demand that his co-host, Juju Chang, drop to her knees in front of him when he said 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".

No, it was saying all this to the Asian American Journalists' Association that was hilarious and stupid enough to justify a gold in the Doofus Olympics.

Bashir also declared himself "happy the podium covers me from the waist down". Chang's impressively restrained response was, "See what I have to put up with?" Indeed we do, Juju.

Most guys keep this sort of thing to themselves, rather than blurt it out under a spotlight and into a microphone. "Gee," the fried meanderings must go, "I'll just whisper sweet nothings and get all these sweet, sexy Asians aroused and compliant just like in Patpong."

Asian women who aren't soft-spoken, submissive and permanently on heat seem to short-circuit many western males' brains. If you are tall, opinionated and transgressive they call you a ladyboy.

Among many things, I'm a babe to my nearest and dearest. And I'm Asian (in the US, "Asian" is shorthand for east Asian, unlike in the UK, where it is more likely to refer to someone from the Indian subcontinent). But put the two together and you've got a fistful of top-shelf porn. "Asian Babe" reeks low-life desperation born of economic disadvantage: not the best description of a hall full of high-powered media professionals. Certainly not of journalists from the east Asian ethnic minority who have had a gut full of fighting ultra-low status with ultra-high achievement.

Whatever I may enjoy in the privacy of my own home, no bloke with his hand on the patriarchal helm is going call me an "Asian babe" and live.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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