Mark Halperin apologizes and is suspended from MSNBC over vulgar comment about Obama

July 1, 2011

MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin was suspended indefinitely by the network after a comment he made about President Obama on ‘Morning Joe’. As Lisa De Moraes reported:

Cable news network MSNBC indefinitely suspended senior political analyst Mark Halperin after he called President Obama “kind of a [vulgarism for male organ]” on the network’s “Morning Joe” show.

He did so after he’d been assured by co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that the show had a seven-second delay in effect and that he should “take a chance.”

“Are we on the seven-second delay today?” Halperin said when asked for his thoughts on Obama’s Wednesday news conference.

“I want to characterize how I thought the president behaved,” Halperin added.

“Well, we have it. We can use it, right, Alex?” Brzezinski asked a producer off-camera.

“Yeah, sure. Come on. Take a chance. Have faith,” Scarborough told Halperin.

“Go for it. Yeah, let’s see what happens,” Brzezinski added.

“I’m behind you. You fall down, I catch you. Trust me,” Scarborough told Halperin.

“And the precedent has been set on this show, so we’re good,” Brzezinski added.

“I thought he was kind of a [vulgarism] 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?” a strangely surprised Scarborough said.

“I hit it. I hope it worked,” a man is heard saying off-camera.

Cue Scarborough stuttering about how shocked he is and Brzezinski 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.”

Halperin apologized for the comment minutes after it aired, but that was not enough to avoid a suspension. As Sarah Anne Hughes explained:

Halperin later offered an apology to the president and the viewers. “I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President and the viewers of Morning Joe. My remark was not funny. I deeply regret it,” he said.

After his suspension, Halperin made a second statement saying that he was in complete agreement with MSNBC. “I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate. 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.”

Should Halperin be blamed for disrespecting the president? Should the producer be blamed for missing the button? Or should we all be blamed for watching morning television shows?

The White House responded to Halperin’s comment, saying the analyst’s off-color comment was ‘innappropriate’, and top Obama adviser David Alexrod called the remark ‘stupid and tasteless’. As Greg Sargent reported:

I happened to be interviewing top Obama adviser David Axelrod this morning on another topic, so I got a chance to quickly ask him for a response to Mark Halperin’s claim that Obama was “kind of a dick” at yesterday’s presser — a crack that has now earned Halperin an indefinite suspension.

Axelrod condemned the remark, but he also took the high road, suggesting it was likely a “mistake” that shouldn’t be seen as representative of Halperin’s career.

“What he said was obviously stupid and tasteless, and he exercised poor judgment,” Axelrod said. “I think he’d be the first to acknowledge that. I strongly disagree with his analysis. But I’ve known him for decades. He’s a decent person and a good journalist. I’m sure that no one regrets this more than he does.”

Axelrod declined to comment on MSNBC’s decision to suspend Halperin indefinitely, but he seemed to hint that he thought the punishment might be giving too much weight to this one incident.

More from The Washington Post

Opinion: Halperin v. Obama: Who wins the euphemism battle?

Right Turn: America’s peevish president

Politics: White house says analyst’s off-color comment about Obama was ‘inappropriate’

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