Documentary-maker Martin Bashir apologised after he had a “moment of stupidity” and made a “tasteless” comment about Asian women, it emerged today.
Bashir, who came to prominence after interviewing Diana, Princess of Wales, about her failed marriage in 1995, issued the apology after making the sexist comment in a speech at the Asian American Journalists Association annual banquet in Chicago on July 25.
In a letter to the organisation, which was published in the latest New York Magazine, Bashir, 45, wrote: “Upon reflection, it was a tasteless remark that I now bitterly regret.
“I am grateful to you for the opportunity to address those present and hope that the continuing work of the organisation will not be harmed or undermined by my moment of stupidity.”
His apology came as Jeffrey Schneider, a spokesman for US TV network ABC on which Bashir hosts the news documentary show 20/20, told reporters: “This kind of remark has no place in any setting and Martin knows that and is truly sorry for his serious error in judgment.”
During the speech, Bashir told the audience: “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.”
With his 20/20 co-presenter Juju Chang standing nearby on stage, Bashir 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”.
“See what I have to put up with?” Ms Chang responded, as some members of the audience booed.
Bashir, who was born in London, moved to the US four years ago to work for 20/20, and was named co-anchor on Nightline, the network’s equivalent of BBC‘s Newsnight, a year later.
He rose to fame after his Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, in which she told him “there were three of us in this marriage”, with reference to Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.
In 2003, he also interviewed Michael Jackson and the controversial documentary, Living with Michael Jackson, led to the pop star being charged with molesting one of the boys featured in the programme.
Jackson was later acquitted and filmed his own response to Bashir’s interview, accusing him of editing the tapes in a sensational manner.