Mark Halperin made some news instead of analyzing it on MSNBC Thursday morning when he said President Obama was "kind of a dick" during his press conference Wednesday. Halperin apologized profusely--four times--but the cable network indefinitely suspended him anyway. More than a few twitterers are taking a bit of glee in watching Halperin squirm. But did he really deserve to be fired?
- The New Republic's Jonathan Chait dubs the morning mini-scandal "The Other Dickgate" and says, "The merits of Halperin's political commentary skills aside, this seems like a wild overreaction." It's not a crime in America to speak ill of the Dear Leader. "If Halperin thinks Obama is a dick, he should go ahead and say so," Chait writes. "Put another way: Would Halperin be apologizing and facing suspension if he called, say, Donald Trump a dick?"
- Salon's Alex Pareene says this was a "great excuse" to fire Halperin, but it's disingenuous for MSNBC to act scandalized.
When you have a wacky "cocktail party" morning show where "anything can happen," sometimes what will happen -- especially if your guestlist features a lot of useless tools like Mark Halperin -- is that someone will call the president a "dick" because he thinks it's endearingly naughty. There was even a big, smirky build-up to Halperin calling the president a "dick." It didn't just slip out. 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 hijinks! High-quality political analysis, everyone.
- Media Matters' Jeremy Holden, who obstinately refused to make jokes in his Other Dickgate post, says of MSNBC, "This is how responsible news organizations behave. While Halperin has apologized for his comments, it is simply unacceptable to call the president of the United States--or any president--a dick."
- And Talking Points Memo's David Kurtz finds the controversy has grown tiresome before it even reached three hours old. "The somnambulant press corps has been aroused from its summer torpor by the kind of controversy that sends DC into a tizzy... It's given one half of DC the chance to acknowledge that Halperin himself is a dick. The other half is wringing its hands over the level of our 'discourse.' Rest assured that within a week we can all go back to being dicks again."
- But Hot Air's Allahpundit has a more practical response. He tweets: "If we can get another three or four pundits to call Obama a dick on TV, today might end up being okay traffic-wise #newslull"
- Update: Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod says Halperin's comment was dumb, but an isolated incident. Axelrod told The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "What he said was obviously stupid and tasteless, and he exercised poor judgment... But I've known him for decades. he's a decent person and a good journalist. I'm sure that no one regrets this more than he does."