The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Mark Halperin Apologizes for Being Right

Posted on | June 30, 2011 | 22 Comments

President Obama’s press conference performance Wednesday caused me to declare that there was no prospect for bipartisan cooperation. This morning on MSNBC, it caused Time magazine’s Mark Halperin to be even more blunt:

“Do we have a seven-second delay? I want to characterize how I thought the president behaved. . . . I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.”

Unfortunately for Halperin, an inexperienced assistant producer on the Morning Joe program failed to hit the “bleep” button, so that Halperin’s comment was broadcast to hundreds of thousands of MSNBC viewers. Halperin immediately apologized, but was suspended “indefinitely” from further MSNBC appearances.

Ed Morrissey quips: “It was a dumb remark, but if MSNBC suspended everyone who made dumb remarks on their channel, they wouldn’t have any hosts left.”

Halperin’s resort to locker-room language may be regrettable, but “kind of a dick” is really rather a mild criticism of Obama’s outrageous assertion that Republicans are “willing to compromise your kids’ safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break.”

Halperin’s remark is all the more regrettable in that it distracts from Obama’s comment, which was as false as it was offensive.

UPDATE: Predictably, lefty Steve Benen claims that this somehow proves Halperin is a raging right-winger:

In candor, I don’t much care that Halperin sides with the right over the left, and takes cheap shots at Democrats. I care that Halperin is presented to the public as a neutral, even-handed expert, when that’s plainly not the case. . . .
Forget Halperin’s choice of words, and instead consider the argument he and his “Morning Joe” colleagues were pressing. They were annoyed, apparently, because President Obama wasn’t docile and conciliatory during his press conference. He showed some backbone, and this seems to have troubled the political establishment to no end.

Note that, in Benen’s worldview, “show[ing] some backbone” means accusing political opponents of bad faith. Would Benen praise a Republican for having “shown some backbone” if the situation were reversed and John Boehner had made a similar accusation of mala fides against the president? No, he wouldn’t.

Benen expects Democrats to employ class-warfare rhetoric, and expects liberal journalists to praise Democrats who do so. And while Halperin is a liberal in good standing, his accurate assessment of Obama’s press-conference performance — which was off-putting, in that the president seemed peevish and petulant — permits the Left to renew their bizarre claim that the media has a right-wing bias.

UPDATE II: Linked at American Powerthanks! — where Donald Douglas quotes Tim Graham on Twitter:

I’m sure oh-so-responsible MSNBC kept every host and correspondent from saying “teabagger,” right? … No?

Good point: In what sense is “dick” more offensive than “teabagger”? MSNBC has lowered the standards of discourse, but arrogates to itself the authority to decide just how low the standards should be.


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