Cable news network MSNBC has suspended the network’s senior political analyst, Mark Halperin. Halperin was suspended indefinitely after he called President Obama “kind of a [expletive]” on the network’s “Morning Joe” show — after having been assured by co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that there would be a seven second delay.
“Are we on the seven second delay today?” Halperin asked, in response to a question about President Obama’s “feisty” comments at a news conference yesterday. “I want to characterize how I thought the president behaved.”
“Well, we have it, we can use it, right Alex?” Brzezinski asked to a producer off camera.
“Yeah, sure, come on, take a chance. Have faith,” Scarborough responded.
“Go for it, yeah, let’s see what happens,” Brzezinski said.
“I’m behind you, you fall down, I catch you. Trust me,” Scarborough assured him.
“And the precedent has been set on this show, so we’re good,” Brzezinki added.
So Halperin spoke:
“I thought he was kind of a [expletive] yesterday,” Halperin said.
“Oh my God! Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe you — I was joking! Don’t do that. Did we delay that?” Scarborough said.
“I hit it, I hope it worked,” said a producer’s voice off-camera.
Cue Scarborough stuttering about how shocked he is, and an also-shocked Brzezinki doubled over laughing.
Later, MSNBC released a statement about Halperin’s suspension:
“Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.”
Minutes after making the crack, Halperin, who is also the editor-at-large for Time Magazine, was already apologizing on air, with Scarborough and Brzezinki trying to explain the incident.
“We didn’t think it was going to go on the air, it was said by you in jest,” Scarborough said.
“We goaded you into saying it, and then we didn’t think you were going to say it, and we were kind of shocked, and then we laughed because we did not think it was on the air,” Brazeznski explained.
Halperin — the co-author of “Game Change,” the book about John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign that’s being made into an HBO movie — also offered a written apology, and says he subscribes completely to MSNBC’s response.
“Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it.”
Watch Halperin’s comments here. (ADVISORY: adult language.)
And later, Halperin’s on-air apology.