Opinion: White House complained to MSNBC over Mark Halperin’s ‘inappropriate’ analysis of Obama


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White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday that he contacted MSNBC big wigs over the offensive term that ‘Morning Joe’ political analyist Mark Halperin uttered earlier in the day.

“The comment that was made was inappropriate. It would be inappropriate to say that about any president of either party. And on behalf of the White House, I expressed that sentiment to executives at the network,” Carney explained.


Carney complained to the network after it had suspended Halperin indefinitely but didn’t want to discuss if the Obama administration was pleased with the swift move.

“I have no comment on that -- whatever action that network, any network, any newspaper or whatever might make and -- because that’s not for us to decide, and we didn’t -- certainly -- you know, we just expressed our concern about the inappropriateness of the comment,’ Carney said.

“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 contain spicy language.

“I wanted to characterize how I thought the president behaved,” Halperin said in reference to comments Obama made Wednesday in a news conference where he compared Congress’s work habits to that of his pre-teen daughters.

“Take a chance,” Scarborough goaded.

“I thought he was kind of an ... yesterday,” Halperin said, using a crude anatomical reference. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post had an interesting take in the wake of the suspension in which he called the network’s actions on the Time magazine editor crazy.

‘Halperin’s crack was crude and dumb, but it doesn’t deserve indefinite suspension. Halperin’s use of an expletive is trival when compared with the degradation of our political discourse we witness on a regular basis from Halperin and many others — degradation that is seen as perfectly acceptable because no curse words are employed,’ Sargent wrote.

‘Suspending Halperin only reinforces a phony definition of ‘civility’ in our discourse, in which it’s unacceptable to use foul language and be ‘uncivil,’ but it’s perfectly acceptable for reporters and commentators to allow outright falsehoods to pass unrebutted; to traffic endlessly in false equivalences in the name of some bogus notion of objectivity; and to make confident assertions about public opinion without referring to polls which show them to be completely wrong,’ Sargent added, and later criticized Halperin specifically for other reasons.


Alex Pardee of Salon, after calling Halperin a ‘useless tool,’ washed his hands at the entire ‘Morning Joe’ crew.

‘Everyone got really excited that Halperin was about to use a bad word, because these people are children, and Halperin looked very pleased with himself after he said the bad word on the TV. Chuckle chuckle chuckle! Faux-outrage! Fun and high jinks! High-quality political analysis, everyone,’ Pardee wrote in his piece titled ‘Mark Halperin comes up with great excuse to fire Mark Halperin’.


Keith Olbermann abruptly departs MSNBC

Obama says Congress could learn a lesson from his daughters

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

-- Tony Pierce

Andrew Malcolm is on vacation