Opinion: Mark Halperin suspended by MSNBC for off-color, on-air characterization of Obama


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Mark Halperin is an editor at Time magazine and a political analyst at MSNBC. While on the news network’s ‘Morning Joe’ program Thursday morning, he was asked to analyze President Obama’s news conference Wednesday where the leader of the free world suggested that Congress’ work habits were lacking when compared to his two young daughters’.

“Are we on the seven-second delay today?” Halperin asked ‘Morning Joe’ co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, a hint that what he wanted to say would in some way be spicy language that the Federal Communications Commission might possibly fine the network over. “I wanted to characterize how I thought the president behaved,” Halperin added.

“We have it we can use it,” Brzezinski said, encouraging the analyst to express himself frankly. “Go for it.”

“Take a chance,” Scarborough goaded.

“I thought he was kind of a ... yesterday,” Halperin said, using a crude anatomical reference.

“Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing?” Scarborough said excitedly. “I can’t believe you! I was joking. Don’t do that! Did we delay that?”


It turned out the producer did not ‘delay that’ and the derogatory term hit the cable airwaves. Reportedly the producer who was given fair warning hit the wrong button. ‘I would tell you what I think of you,’ Scarborough told the producer, ‘but you don’t know what button to push.’

MSNBC however quickly pushed the ‘Suspend Halperin’ button and fired off a statement distancing themselves from their analyst.

“Mark Halperin’s comments [Thursday] morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” MSNBC said in a statement. “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 followed suit and fell on his sword.

“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,” Halperin wrote in a statement. “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.”

You can view a video of the incident on our sister blog, Politics Now.


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