UK journalist Martin Bashir, son of Pakistani immigrants, is best-known for wringing titillating stories from celebs like Princess Diana and Michael Jackson. He’s also kind of a doofus when it comes to racial comments.
At a July 31 address to the Asian American Journalists Association, Bashir said he was “happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, he continued: “In fact, I’m happy that the podium covers me from the waist down.” A good speech, according to Bashir, 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.” Juju Chang, by the way, is an Emmy-Award-winning 20/20 correspondent who has won national awards for her groundbreaking reporting on transgender and women’s issues and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
I may be only half-Japanese but I’m more than half-offended by Bashir’s comments. The guy has experienced racism in his life, both as a person and a journalist. He knows better. He knows how hard people of all colors work in the field to get to where they are. Perhaps he felt that he was among friends, and that Asian women wouldn’t mind if he threw in a little sexism with his “ha ha, Asians are short” joke. At least he apologized: “Upon reflection, it was a tasteless remark that I now bitterly regret,” he wrote the AAJA. He also apologized to Chang for his “boorishness.”
While it’s admirable that Bashir apologized, Chang’s comment to the audience at the AAJA dinner says it all: “See what I have to put up with?” It’s funny ’cause it’s true.