MSNBC suspends Mark Halperin over vulgar comment about Obama

June 30, 2011

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.”

Minutes after making the crack, Halperin was apologizing on air. He is also editor at large at Time magazine and co-author of “Game Change,” a book about John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign that is being made into an HBO movie.

Scarborough and Brzezinski began 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,” Brzezinski blah, blah, blahed.

Halperin also offered a written apology and said he subscribes to MSNBC’s decision:

“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.”

Colbert PACs ’em in

The Federal Election Commission has given Comedy Central faux news anchor Stephen Colbert the go-ahead on his plans to form a “super PAC” to raise and spend unlimited money in the 2012 elections. But the FCC said Comedy Central’s parent company, Viacom, would have to report anything it gives its star for political activities outside of his TV show.

“Change is coming — and I hope a lot of large bills, too!” Colbert said at the top of Wednesday night’s show, on the eve of his trip to FEC headquarters in Washington.

Colbert, who first announced his super PAC plans in April, planned to discuss in detail the FEC’s thumbs-up on the Colbert Super PAC on Thursday night’s “The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central said Thursday afternoon. But he gave a hundred or so media types and fans a sneak peek during a victory speech outside FEC’s headquarters Thursday, after the hearing was over.

“Some people have cynically asked, ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ Well, I for one don’t think that participating in a democracy is a joke,” Colbert told the crowd. “I don’t think that wanting to know what the rules are is a joke.”

“But I do have one federal election law joke, if you’d like to hear it,” Colbert said. “Knock knock!”

“Who’s there?” the crowd asked.

“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions,” Colbert said.

“Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?” the crowd roared.

“That’s the thing. I don’t think I should have to tell you.”

Glenn Beck’s swan song

In his last telecast as host of Fox News Channel’s 5 p.m. program, Glenn Beck said Thursday that he’s leaving because “this show has become a movement — it’s not a TV show, and that’s why it doesn’t belong on TV any more. It belongs in your home; it belongs in your neighborhood.”

He’s being replaced, however, with an actual TV show, FNC announced Thursday. Hours before Beck’s swan song, the network said it would replace him during the summer with a program called “The Five.”

Not to be confused with ABC’s “The View” or new “The Chew,” FNC’s “The Five” (debuting July 11) will feature a roundtable of five rotating FNC personalities. They will “discuss, debate and at times debunk the hot news stories, controversies and issues of the day,” FNC said.

Participants will include Greg Gutfeld, Juan Williams, Dana Perino, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Geraldo Rivera, Andrea Tantaros, Eric Bolling, Monica Crowley, Bob Beckel and Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as guest politicos, celebrities, sports figures and other newsmakers.

Beck reruns will fill the slot until “The Five” debuts — except on Friday, when a John Stossel-hosted “What Makes America Great” will air.

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