December 5, 2022

Media Decoder: MSNBC Suspends Halperin Over Slur

12:55 p.m. | Updated MSNBC suspended one of its best-known political analysts, Mark Halperin, on Thursday morning after he directed a derogatory comment at President Obama on the channel’s morning show, “Morning Joe.”

Sitting on the set of “Morning Joe,” Mr. Halperin smiled mischievously as he disparaged Mr. Obama’s behavior at a news conference a day earlier. “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday,” Mr. Halperin said.

Time magazine, which employs Mr. Halperin as editor-at-large, issued him a warning but is not taking any further action.

“Mark Halperin’s comments on air this morning were inappropriate and in no way reflective of Time’s views,” a spokesperson for the magazine said. “We have issued a warning to him that such behavior is unacceptable. Mark has appropriately apologized.”

Before Mr. Halperin made the quip, he had asked if there was a seven-second delay available, a feature of television control rooms that can be used to bleep out stray curse words on live TV.

“Delay that,” the show’s co-host, Joe Scarborough, said after hearing the comment.

Minutes later, Mr. Halperin apologized on the air, saying “I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that.”

Mr. Scarborough complained on the air that the show’s executive producer failed to bleep the word. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push,” he said.

Immediately after the show concluded at 9 a.m., a meeting was convened about the incident, and by 10:30 a.m., Mr. Halperin had been suspended indefinitely from his analyst job at MSNBC.

“Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” the channel said 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.”

In a fresh statement from the channel, Mr. Halperin said he agreed completely “with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark” and added, “I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate.” He said he deeply regretted making the comment.

Mr. Halperin is a paid contributor to MSNBC and a regular guest on “Morning Joe.” He is Time’s leading political reporter and one of the magazine’s most recognizable bylines, a visibility that could complicate the fallout from his profane remark.

Mr. Halperin often takes the lead role for Time in reporting on the presidential campaign and writes the popular political blog “The Page.” He is also co-authoring a follow-up book to “Game Change,” the best-seller about the 2008 campaign.

Time had no immediate comment about how the comment could jeopardize his access to the president or his credibility as an objective journalist.

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