MSNBC contributor suspended over crass quip
June 30th, 2011
11:11 AM ET
11 years ago

MSNBC contributor suspended over crass quip

(CNN) - MSNBC contributor Mark Halperin was suspended indefinitely Thursday from the cable network after calling President Obama a "d**k."

"Mark Halperin's comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable," read a statement from MSNBC. "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."

Halperin, an editor at TIME magazine, said "I thought he [Obama] was a d**k yesterday," on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," referring to the president's Wednesday press conference. The comment came after he asked host Joe Scarborough if there was a delay on the program to allow words to be bleeped.

Halperin later apologized in the broadcast and in a statement.

"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 said in the 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."

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the remark "inappropriate" and said he had "expressed that sentiment to executives at the network."

TIME magazine is owned by Time Warner, which is also the parent company of CNN.

Filed under: MSNBC
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    At this point, if President Obama is asserting his office enough to get that kind of comment, MAYBE he's FINALLY asserting himself ALMOST enough.

    June 30, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. TomT

    I would not suspend Mark Halprin for more than a day or two for the indelicate characterization of President Obama.

    But I would suspend Joe Scarborough for a week and Morning Joe's director for the same amount of time.

    The statement by Scarborough to Halprin that the 7-second delay worked and that it would be OK to use an uncomplimentary characterization because it would not be broadcast gave Halprin a level of confidence to use the word. It is Scarborough who should be apologizing and be suspended because he stated as fact something that was not totally true.

    Then there is the director - where is Chris Lick when you need him - who was not sufficiently knowledgeable about where the correct button was for the 7-second delay. The director did mention later that he figured out that he pushed the wrong button and that it was the other one he should have used. Because of this new director's lack of total competence, he should be forced to apologize to Halprin and everyone else and should also be suspended.

    The MSNBC management punished a member of the family who was trusting of the primary personality of the show and the man who is responsible for what goes on. Halprin did apologize for the less than socially correct characterization as soon as he could and before it was even determined that the word was not taken out by the 7-second delay.

    Though a lot of folks have characterized President Obama's Press Conference with similar words, Halprin used the cruder word. That is freedom of speech. He should be allowed back on Morning Joe next week. But Joe Scarborough and the director should be suspended for at least a week. The director should also take come training in how to use all the equipment available to him.

    I like all the folks on Morning Joe. This was a family that messed up. This is not a big deal. I am sure President Obama has heard a lot worse and is adult enough to not be bothered.

    June 30, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Mtwildflower

    He should be fired!

    June 30, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Jilli

    Halperin shouldn't be suspended, he should be fired. Not only for his derragatory and unnecessary comment about our president – but if you check his record, the only consistency is that he's consistently wrong. If it weren't for his father, he'd be sacking groceries at Kroger. He should be fired.

    June 30, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Well done. I appreciate anyone who steps up and admits a mistake. Too bad we don't see that often enough from our elected officials.

    June 30, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  6. KenSanDiego

    Well done. I appreciate anyone who steps up and admits a mistake. Too bad we don't see that often enough from our elected officials.

    June 30, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. tiara

    I think I have to cut off my TIME mag subscription.

    June 30, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Laverne

    I always knew Mark Halperin did not care for President Obama, but to have such a lack of discipline as a journalist to keep comments such as this one out of your mouth shows his lack of integrity and obvious respect for our president. The level of disrespect that this country has shown to President Obama is very disturbing and very telling about where we are as a nation. We can argue all day long and say oh no it's his policies, well it goes a lot deeper than his policies. Some people are literally foaming at the mouth at the fact this man is president and ever since he has been president, I have never see so many racist and quacky people come out of the woodworks. These so called conservative republicans and tea party people are so out of touch with reality and they want things back the way they use to be when they suppressed everybody else. The only thing about wanting things back the way they use to be means there are a lot of folk (ie. blacks, gays, mexicans, women, jews) who will be back in bondage and that is not about to happen, there will be a civil war first!

    June 30, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Ben

    Thinker – "Its one thing to insultAnCoulter. She herself is a walkng insult"

    Typical Liberal response.

    June 30, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. JJinCVCA

    Oh so many anti-Obama-bots out here saying Halperin was speaking "the truth" about the President of United States, and that's not even the point of the article and his suspension ... it's really about the fact that MSNBC as a forum for political discourse is not the place for crass, childish commentary like that. SURE, you can disagree and be angry with the President of the United States of America, and there are ways to voice that without ad hominem banter. The right-wingers are just angry that we have a president who's not going to take what the Republicans have to dish out sitting down.

    June 30, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Molly Weasley

    Mark Halperin should be suspended for the comment, but he should be fired because he's a no-talent, partisan hack. He hasn't done any "analysis" worthwhile for MSNBC or for Time in years.

    June 30, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    The sad thing in all of this is that people are viewing this as a freedom of speech exercise, nothing more. It does not matter to me which party they belong to, its an incredible lack of respect and its not something that contributes to a reasonable discourse in this country. We have all become far coarser in recent years, and always hide behind the fig leaf of free speech in order to do it. It does not matter if you refer to the POTUS as a body part, a conservative commentator as a woman of questionable virtue: its indicative of a sickness. We all engage in these verbal drive-bys when we blog: its safe, its easy, and its an easy way to to say horrible things we would rarely, if ever, say in public. Its one thing to have a strong opinion, its another thing to have an unrestrained mouth that immediately runs to the Bill of Rights, hides behind it and says its acceptable. I don't view Larry Flynt as a defender of my right to free speech: I am, and I will take responsibility for what I say, do, and hear. If someone does something that is beyond the Pale, then, as a free society, we have an obligation to call them out on it, not dismiss it or rationalize it away. If I do something stupid, then, by all means, call me on it.

    June 30, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Tiff

    I don't believe Mark Halperin is sorry! He said what he wanted to say and thought he could get away with it. Now he is just apologizing because he is being pressured to! I truely believe he has no respect for our President and should be fired from Time as well!

    June 30, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. edvhou812

    Lesson: Never say anything bad about Obama on MSNBC.

    June 30, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Marv

    Definitely needs to be fired for disrespecting the President in such a manner. I was never a George Bush fan. But I would have wrestle and arrested the knucklehead that threw his shoe at our President when he visited Iraq. I also thought it was extremely poor taste for comics to make fun of anyone, especially in a foreign country disrespecting our President at that time. Hence, there is never an acceptable reason to do so especially from a so-called professional representing an organization. Secondly he or the company should be fined by the FCC or whatever body regulates such violations. He should be held accountable until it hurts and feels like the comment he made.

    June 30, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  16. themikey

    I would like to know what 'thought process' was going thru his (Halperin's) head to make him come to this conclusion, i.e., calling President Obama a "d–k"??

    June 30, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Laverne

    The cover continues to get snatched off of these creeps! Mark Halperin has been pretending for the past 2 years to be a friend of the president and now we know how he really feels. President Obama take note of your enemies!

    June 30, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It was disrespectful people, let's at least be honest about that.
    Just as it was disrespectful to book Blair House and have him be the first President to have to live in a hotel before moving into the White House....and calling him a liar on national television during a world-wide address......
    The list is so freaking long that it is disrepectful in an of itself.

    Yes, and while I did NOT blog back then, I'm sure people called Bush all kinds of things that sounded disrespectful like MURDERER, and IDIOT, Vacationer-In-Chief, LIAR, and Cheney-puppet but those things were not disrespectful they were just true.

    June 30, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. Descarado

    Someone called the Emperor Obama a bad name on television and the network caved in like one of those cheap pimp suits that Al Sharpton wears? I am shocked! Shocked! How dare anyone malign the Emperor Obama?

    June 30, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. Tubby the Tuba TEXAS

    Fire the man for unbecoming conduct....he should know what the limits of good taste is by now...I'm tired of professional people, high up, say such unpresidential things about America's President. He won that office fair and square and didn't win it by a couple of vote like George W. did, but by over 10,000,000 votes!

    June 30, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Obama for 2nd term

    Why does this toolbag have a job. He is ugly to be a reporter

    June 30, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. Realist

    You libs are the biggest bunch if hypocrites; honesty too much for ya? Like the majority of the postings here state, if Halperin had said the same thing about a Republican, he'd probably would've gotten a long term contract with Obama's loudest cheerleaders (MSNBC). Libs whine and bemoan the fact that Obama hasn't lived up to their lofty expectations. And when the curtain of reality is pulled to the side they discover, to their dismay, he's just another low-life from one of the most politically corrupt cities in the US. To all you Libs, deal with this reality cuz Obama is going to go down as one of the worst Presidents this Nation has ever elected. Hell, he makes Carter look like a winner...

    June 30, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Flyboy7588

    So, when are the suits at MSLSD going to suspend Matthews, Schultz and Maddcow for all the slurs they deliver every night at Republicans and Conservatives?????? For Christ's sake, Matthews is drunk on the air most of the time.

    June 30, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. roger

    Forget affiliation. It's a rather distasteful remark and some kind of action needed to be done. I'm hoping the "same action" would of occurred if it were a Republican President.

    June 30, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. keeth in cali

    When did anyone on MSNBC ever call W. such a word on-air, and survive? Never. "Indiana Voter" can su ck it. He's just making stuff up.

    June 30, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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