Anchor mocks Indian diplomat's name on-air
VIDEO: NZ gov't forced to apologize to India officialsPolitically incorrect statements made by media personnel in the U.S. might lead to firings or early retirements, but that's nothing compared to the full-on "diplomatic incident" brought on by a New Zealand broadcaster's inappropriate snickering recently.
Paul Henry, a newscaster with TVNZ in New Zealand, couldn't help making some rather obvious jokes about New Delhi's chief minister. Her name: Sheila Dikshit.
For the record, it's pronounced "Dixit."
But even after the news anchor is provided the correct pronunciation, he laughs uncontrollably while his co-anchor shakes her head.
While TVNZ has suspended Henry, the damage has already been done. Folks in New Zealand who saw the TV broadcast complained, as did Indian officials, and the New Zealand government has apologized to the Indian Government. There was even talk of trade negotiations being impeded because of the anchorman's slight against Dikshit.
Friday on TVNZ, an expert went on the air to try to put things into perspective.
"He's a mere television presenter, and I think we should remember that," the expert said.
"Well, it has become a diplomatic incident," the news anchor countered.
"The diplomatic incident is resolved, in that New Zealand has made an apology," the expert replied. Watch here.
Henry, though, has a reputation for pushing the boundaries: He once used the term "retarded" when speaking about "Britain's Got Talent" sensation Susan Boyle, for example.
While the Henry-Dikshit affair might be similar to the Rick Sanchez-Jon Stewart squabble that resulted in CNN firing Sanchez, at least it hasn't led to an entire country having to apologize for the behavior of a single broadcaster.
Henry and Sanchez have lots of company nowadays. Dr. Laura Schlessinger said she'd end her free-to-air radio show at year's end and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell this week apologized to Republican National Committee head Michael Steele. Both incidents were sparked by insensitive remarks.