by david bauder ap television writer
Sarah Palin on Wednesday cancelled a scheduled interview with NBC's Matt Lauer following MSNBC host Martin Bashir's suggestion that she deserved a graphic punishment for comments made about slavery.
An NBC executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person is not involved in booking "Today" show guests confirmed the cancellation, first reported by Fox News. NBC hopes to reschedule Lauer's trip to Alaska for the holiday season interview, the executive said.
Palin has proven a potent ratings-grabber for the second-place morning show, where she once appeared as a guest host.
Bashir apologized Monday for suggesting that someone defecate in Palin's mouth because of a remark she made comparing the United States' indebtedness to China with slavery. MSNBC has not responded to repeated queries about whether Bashir will face disciplinary action. Bashir anchored his show on Wednesday.
Last Friday, the same day Bashir made his comment, MSNBC suspended weekly talk show host Alec Baldwin for two weeks for using an anti-gay slur in a street confrontation.
Palin's political action committee has written to MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC News President Deborah Turness asking whether Bashir would be disciplined. Tim Crawford, treasurer of Palin's PAC, said in the letter that "Americans deserve to know that your network doesn't condone violent and hateful rhetoric."
NBC News has sought to separate itself from MSNBC and the cable network's programming that largely appeals to a liberal fan base, despite the networks sharing ownership and some personnel.
Bashir had criticized Palin and her "long-diseased mind" after playing video of her speech about China. 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 Baldwin's punishment in his letter, as well as MSNBC's firing of 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 on Wednesday, 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."