A TV host has apologised for inferring that Sarah Palin should to be subjected to a cruel punishment dealt out to 18th century slaves.

MSNBC show host Martin Bashir reacted angrily to a speech Palin made comparing US federal debt to slavery in his show on Friday.

He read out a section from the diary of plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood, who is known for his cruel treatment of slaves.

"In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby 'catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth,' Bashir said.


Bashir then said Palin "would be the outstanding candidate" for that punishment.

He issued an apology over his "deeply offensive" comments on his MSNBC show today.

"I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said," the MSNBC host said.

"My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics. And they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said."

- nzherald.co.nz