The D.C. press corps has been in a tizzy Thursday, after MSNBC indefinitely suspended senior political analyst Mark Halperin after he insulted the president on Morning Joe. Asked to comment on Obama's tough talk in Wednesday's news conference, Halperin (who's also a TIME editor-at-large) first inquired if the network was employing a seven-second delay to censor any naughty words he might say. Halperin then offered up this analysis of our nation's president: "I thought he was a dick yesterday." (Watch it here.) In a statement, MSNBC called the remark "completely inappropriate and unacceptable." Halperin has also apologized. Did he get what he deserved?
Yes. MSNBC acted appropriately: "It is simply unacceptable to call the president of the United States — or any president — a dick," says Jeremy Holden at Media Matters. TV stars, be they Keith Olbermann or Ed Schultz, need to be held accountable for their actions. That's "how responsible news organizations behave."
"MSNBC holds Halperin accountable for inexcusable comments"
No. This is no big deal: "The merits of Halperin's political commentary skills aside, this seems like a wild overreaction," says Jonathan Chait at The New Republic. "Since when do political commentators owe the president respect?" Halperin should be able to say whatever he wants about Obama — "this is not a monarchy." We wouldn't care if he'd said the same thing about Donald Trump, and the rules should be no different for our dear leader.
"Dickgate (The Other Dickgate)"
No. But MSNBC should can this hack anyway: "This is a great excuse for MSNBC to fire Halperin," says Alex Pareene at Salon. "If they won't fire him for being incompetent at understanding and explaining politics," this is a passable reason to oust him, too. It's time for this hack to retire.
"Mark Halperin comes up with great excuse to fire Mark Halperin"
No. But it does show the dismal state of commentary: "Of course Mark Halperin should not be fired," says James Fallows at The Atlantic. But this whole kerfuffle does illustrate how "dickish" our mainstream political coverage has become. We should focus on "the economic, financial, political, and Constitutional showdown Obama was discussing," not whether he was right to be frustrated and emotional. It was a presidential press conference, not "a free-skate program where a contestant should be judged on poise, costume, and sticking the landings."
"The real dickishness problem"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
- 10 burning questions you've always wanted to ask about investing
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
Subscribe to the Week