Standards and Double Standards at MSNBC

So here we are in a brand new week and Mark Halperin, a senior political analyst at Time magazine and a regular contributor on MSNBC, is still suspended for calling President Obama a “dick” on “Morning Joe.”

Never mind that Halperin thought he was on a seven-second delay and that his remark would never be heard by the public.  Never mind, too, that he immediately apologized, on the air.  The White House press secretary called MSNBC to complain and, poof, Halperin was gone.  Suspended indefinitely.

MSNBC issued a statement saying, “Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. 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.”

Really?  When did MSNBC start to care about what is and what is not appropriate when it comes to commenting on a sitting president of the United States?  And when did the network start to strive for a high level of discourse?

I offer up two words to show how self-serving and disingenous the MSNBC statement is:  Keith. Olbermann.

Perhaps the MSNBC suits missed the show when Olbermann, talking about then President Bush, said, “You’re a fascist! Get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it!”

Maybe they also missed the one when Olbermann said Presidsent Bush was guilty of “murderous deceit” and then, working himself up into a frenzy, looked into the camera and yelled at the president to “Shut the hell up.”

Or how about the time this popped up on the screen while Olbermann was ranting about President Bush:  “Pathological presidential liar or an idiot in chief?”

Call me cynical, but I’m guessing they didn’t miss any of it.  They just didn’t care, since bashing W appeals to their audience, which consists (even now)  of folks who foam at the mouth at the mere mention of George W. Bush’s name.

Halperin’s use of a mildly vulgar word aimed at President Obama was wrong.  And arguably he deserved a slap on the wrist, nothing more, given his overall civility on the air and his immediate apology – and especially given the fact that Joe Scarborough, the show’s host, egged Halperin on, assuring him that there was indeed a fail-safe delay.

But an indefinite suspension that may very well lead to a permanent dismissal?  It looks like MSNBC executives caved after that call from the White House press office.  Or maybe they were just pandering to their Obama-adoring audience.  Or probably both.

MSNBC views a  single naughty word we don’t use in polite company as “completely inappropriate and unacceptable” but manages to look the other way when it’s (former) number one “star” calls George W. Bush a “fascist,”  says he’s guilty of “murderous decit,” tells him to “shut the hell up” and then wonders if Mr. Bush, a sitting president at the time, is a “pathological liar” or an “idiot.”

Why do I think the word used to describe Mr. Obama would be better used to describe the folks who run MSNBC, who for years let Keith Olbermann get away with hate-filled rants for just one reason – ratings, a commodity that has always been in short supply over there. I suspect they would have allowed Olbermann to call President Bush a rapist and a child molestor, or just about anything else that would satisfy their tiny band of Bush haters.

I have often thought that television news executives in general would run their own mother over with a bus if it somehow would help ratings.  Nothing the brass at MSNBC has done has made me think differently.  Not even their relief when Olbermann and MSNBC (under new corporate management) decided to break off their dysfunctional relationship.  By that point, Olbermann was making Howard Beale, the screwy anchor in the movie “Network” look sane.

One more thing:  another MSNBC contributer, Ronald Reagan, Jr once went on the air and said that President Bush’s belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, even when others said there were none, was “not just spin.  That’s dementia.”

No suspension for that either, indefinite or otherwise.

It’s good to know that at MSNBC they have integrity and high standards, that they consider certain comments “innappropriate and unaccpetable,” and that they “strive for a high level of discourse.”

It would be wrong if I said, What a bunch of dicks they have running that network.  So I won’t.

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  • Will Swoboda

    Good afternoon Bernie,
    The so called main stream media are like me when I was an alcoholc. My poor behavior was pointed out to me numious times. But being alcoholc, I didn’t see anything wrong. I use to wonder what the heck was all the fuss about. I actually thought I was right in the way I acted most of the time. Thank God I’ve been sober for 33 years and was a true nit-wit.

  • Granite

    Halperin wasn’t wrong. It’s that simple if you put aside the politically correct b.s.

    By the way, I doubt this truly offended anyone in the White House after having Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff for nearly two years.

  • kevin

    So, you’re actually comparing the President being called a “dick” (which is considered a curse word, hence being censored), to idiot, dementia (?), fascist, shut the hell up, etc., which never get censored. Wow, Bernie… do you know what curse words are? Nobody should get suspended for calling the president an idiot, fascist, or telling him to shut up. That’s free speech that isn’t considered cursing. Conservatives on television and radio have been saying either similar language or worse for the last 2 1/2 years, and I don’t see you calling them out.

    By the way, Halperin is a repeat offender of this kind of stuff. He posted a picture of Senator Mary Landrieu on an article he wrote for Time Magazine where it showed her hair stuck up in the air with the title “There’s something about Mary”, just like Cameron Diaz’s hair was that way in the aforementioned movie. For anybody who has seen the movie, that was a very poor attempt at sexism. Do more research next time, Bernie.

    • joe from louisiana

      I think the point is how uncivil and disrespectful libs were to President Bush with not a peep. It would not be tolerated if reversed. Very childish behavior, indeed. Remember the Joker facepaint?

  • Wil Burns

    Bernie, What’s so special about Mark Halperin that has you in such a state of perplexity. Olbermann was fired and they suspended Ed Schultz. You said ” I suspect they would have allowed Olbermann to call President Bush a rapist and a child molester” …Really? That is your problem Bernie, you ‘suspect’ too much.

    • Bruce A.

      Wil, I found something on the AOL Huffpost website which may interest you. Fox News is still #1 in ratings. How do you like that?

      • Wil Burns

        High ratings tell us only that people are buying what they’re selling. More people go to NASCAR races than museums; doesn’t mean the former is a better place to learn.

        • Bruce A.

          Do you have the attendence figures for both? NASCAR races have a lot of empty seats this year, the experts are blaming the economy. Something is driving the Fox ratings, even die hard liberals like you tune in.

        • joe from louisiana

          And more people get their news from Comedy Central than MSNBC. Of course, Comedy Central probably checks their sources.

  • Vince Ricardo

    Should’ve just called Obama a jerk. He was acting like one (he’s very good at it, one of the few things in which he is fully competent). Jerk, “dick,” same thing. Slap on the wrist.

  • david7134

    What is wrong with what Halpren said? Some times only the most base of terms will explain your feels. We don’t owe the president respect in a free society, he must earn that.

  • Terry Walbert

    I thought Halperin was using 1930s slang and calling Obama a ‘detective.” As in the W.C. Fields movie, The Bank Dick.

  • Kathie Ampela

    The M.O. of progressives is to slander the opposition..that’s been well documented. I’m reading a book which includes an extensive section about the history of the progressive movement dating back to Theodore Roosevelt..ridicule is a very old trick. Keith Olbermann and the previous management of MSNBC were merely following the century old playbook. But to slander your own..what does this mean? Either progressives are turning on Obama or they’ve slandered so many for so long they’ve forgotten how to PRETEND to be civil. The recent suspension of Ed Schultz after his “slut” comment about Laura Ingraham and his forced public apology coupled with this new Halperin incident are the policies of new management…obviously non-progressives.

  • Nancye

    MSNBC is an asylum for liberals. Several years ago Michael Savage said that liberalism is a mental disease. I believe him. “Nough said!!!

  • TomSr

    Thanks for the article, Bernie. Two points, though:

    1. I think Halperin is being disingenuous with his apology. He called him a dick and he meant it. Let MSNBC apologize, perhaps, for the mild profanity, but he should stand by his opinion.
    2. I agree with Halperin’s characterization, or should I say, definition of Obama.

  • Ron Kean

    I’m curious how long he’ll be suspended. Not long ago Ed Schultz was suspended for a very short time after calling Laura Ingraham a slut. People in high places should start a ‘Bring Back Halperin’ campaign just to put MSNBC on the spot.

    By the way, Halperin (I think it’s the same one) wrote a very good book about the Italian Front in WWI. It’s long but it kept my interest.

    And to all the liberals who frequent this blog, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have called people idiots but tell me if conservatives have ever called people names like Schultz, Olberman or Maher (twat) have.

  • CCNV

    The liberal thing to do would be for MSNBC to create/fund sensitivity training for anyone who has ever referred to a guy named “Richard” as “Dick”.

  • Carlo

    There is no difference between networks like MSNBC and the Nazi propoganda machine. Had Halperin referred to President {insert last name of any Republican president}, they would have laughed about it on the air and the guy would have been a hero. If any group of people are pathological, it’s these mindless, lemming-like liberals.

  • Bruce A.

    Good article. But is change in the air at MSNBC with the Comcast buyout?
    Is it possible that the dicks running the network may be looking to save a few of their jobs?
    Is it possible that Comcast is beginning to slowly clean house in order to increase ratings & revenue?
    BTW, the last ratings I saw had Fox on top Again!