MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin was suspended on Thursday by the cable network after he called President Obama “a dick” on a popular morning show and then quickly apologized.
“I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin, who also is an editor-at large for Time, said on Morning Joe, referring to the President’s conduct during his press conference.
A couple of hours later, MSNBC issued a statement, saying, “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.
The cable outlet also put out a statment from Halperin at the same time, saying, “I completely agree with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark. 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.”
There’s not much to say about this, honestly. Personally, I don’t even like it when Fox News’ Sean Hannity refers to the president as “The Anointed One” — like it or not, Barack Obama is the president of the United States, and regardless of your politics the institution of the presidency deserves respect. (Yes, even if you feel that the person currently inhabiting that institution isn’t affording it the respect it deserves.) But was MSNBC right to suspend Halperin? Considering the things that were said about George W. Bush for eight years on that network, I think not.
Frankly, I’m surprised that someone like Halperin failed to follow the cardinal rule of broadcast: assume that the microphone is open, and the camera is running. Immediately, I think of the lesson learned by CNN’s Kyra Phillips, whose ladies’ room conversation about her husband was available for all to hear during a speech by George W. Bush, thanks to an open microphone.
All seriousness aside, Halperin’s gaffe led to some funny things said among some acquaintances of mine, and some other folks on Twitter. The highlights:
- “I hope both viewers of MSNBC accept the network’s apology.”
- “Like the old tree falling in the forest … if Obama is called a ‘dick’ on MSNBC, did anyone really say it?”
- “Tonight: @MSNBC’s Mark Halperin called @BarackObama “Dick”. Almost 3 years and he hasn’t bothered to learn the president’s name?” — The Daily Show, via Twitter
- “Maybe he was hacked.” — Ace of Spades, via Twitter