Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 09:54 UK

Bashir sorry for 'tasteless' quip

Martin Bashir
Bashir presents current affairs show 20/20 on US TV network ABC

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."

'Serious error'

He added: "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."

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."

Michael Jackson
Bashir gained global attention by interviewing Michael Jackson in 2003
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?"

Bashir, who was born in London, moved to the US four years ago. He is best known for his 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

In 2003 he also interviewed Michael Jackson for his controversial documentary, Living with Michael Jackson, which 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 sensationalist manner.

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