MSNBC’s Mark Halperin drew an indefinite suspension for calling President Obama…well, something he hadn’t oughta never called him. at least according to network executives.
“Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” said MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines 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.”
Appearing on “Morning Joe” this morning, Halperin, senior political analyst at Time and MSNBC and co-author of the 2008 election opus “Game Change,” sought to characterize the president’s demeanor at a press briefing the previous day. You can watch the video below–though the term Halperin uses to characterize the president is vulgar, as the partial transcript after the jump will also show:
I suppose the network was right — Halperin’s characterization was on the vulgar side. Still — and this, I think, is what made Halperin think he could get away with it — the word he used wasn’t particularly damning. Compared to “slut” — Ed Schultz’s term of endearment for Laura Ingraham — which imputes a gross and chronic character defect, the Halperin merely suggests something slight and situational. The Greeks have a saying about physical courage: “He was a brave man that day.” Most every man I know, the author included, has been one of what Halperin said Obama was. Those who have seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High will recall Jeff Spicoli’s cry of protest when Mr. Hand distributes his pizza to the rest of the class. The act and the epithet are perfectly matched; Spicoli’s not suggesting his teacher is capable of genocide or human trafficking, just minor acts of spite from time to time.
In any case, I commend Halperin on taking his punishment so gracefully. If, say, Bill Clinton, stood accused of the same thing, he’d have claimed his intentions had been misconstrued. He’d meant to compare the president to John Shaft — “You know, a black private one, who’s like a sex machine with all the chicks. It was a compliment, honor bright.” He’d have gotten away with it, too, and earned Nixon’s nickname in the process.