Morning Joe: Mark Halperin calls Obama a DICK on live television
Mark Halperin’s apology
The White House has expressed its anger to MSNBC after a senior political analyst called President Obama a ‘d***’ live on the Morning Joe show.
The network has already suspended Mark Halperin, also Time magazine’s editor-at-large, over the slur.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters last night that the remark was uncalled for.
He said: ‘The comment that was made was inappropriate. It would be inappropriate to say that about any president of either party. And on behalf of the White House, I expressed that sentiment to executives at the network.’
Halperin immediately apologised for the comment, made after the show’s host Joe Scarborough jokingly told him he could say what he thought of the president because the programme was being recorded on a delay.
But the producer failed to hit the seven-second delay button, so this morning millions of Americans heard Mr Halperin say: ‘I thought he was kind of a d*** yesterday.’
The suspension is unlikely to stop Mr Halperin himself being in Obama’s line of fire on tax – he is a millionaire in his own right after signing a $5million book deal last year to co-author a title on the 2012 elections.
A shocked Mr Scarborough immediately tried to save the situation, saying: ‘Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe… don’t do that. Did we delay that?’
He blamed the mistake on one of the show’s producers for not activating the delay which allows inappropriate remarks to be screened out of the broadcast.
Mr Scarborough said: ‘You are supposed to know how to do the job. I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push.’
Mr Halperin immediately apologised for the slur, saying: ‘Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that.’
As soon as the show ended at 9am, executives called a meeting, and by 10.30am Mr Halperin had been suspended indefinitely.
In a statement, MSNBC said: ‘Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologise 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. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.’
His comment was also sternly censured by White House press secretary Jay Carney, who called MSNBC officials to ‘convey the administration’s anger.’
He said: ‘The comment that was made was inappropriate. It would be inappropriate to say about a president of either party.’
Mr Halperin joined MSNBC as its senior political analyst last year, and before that spent 20 years at ABC News, with ten of those as political director.
Last year he published Game Change, a book about the 2008 election co-written with New York Magazine’s John Heilemann, which spent several weeks at the top of the New York Times’s bestselling list.
After its success, the two men won a $5million advance from Penguin to write a second book, this time about the 2012 elections.
In his own statement, Mr Halperin said: ‘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.
‘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.’
He also apologised on Twitter, and later Time Magazine also issued a statement, saying: ‘Mark Halperin’s comments on air this morning were inappropriate and in no way reflective of Time’s views.
‘We have issued a warning to him that such behaviour is unacceptable. Mark has appropriately apologised on air, via Twitter and on The Page.’
In yesterday’s press conference, Mr Obama launched a scathing attack on super-rich jet owners as he desperately looked for a way to deal with the country’s spiralling debt.
The president focused attention on class differences as he sought to increase taxes for people earning over $250,000 and tackle the Republicans over their plans for the economy.
But outraged critics retaliated by pointing out that just running a private jet costs $500,000 a year – far more than a family earning $250,000 could afford. Meanwhile, the average jet costs $5m just to buy.
They suggested that Obama’s announcements at a conference on Monday were simply a smokescreen in order to raise taxes among middle-class families.
Republicans and the Tea Party want to tackle debt by cutting public services while also lowering taxes for the average citizen.
Obama said that Democrats had agreed to billions of dollars in budget cuts that would inevitably lose them votes.
But he accused Republicans of refusing to compromise by not agreeing to eliminate tax breaks to owners of corporate jets and profit-rich oil companies.
‘I’m proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners,’ Obama said.
The president said Democrats had already shown they were ready to ‘take on their sacred cows’ by agreeing to big cuts in programs important to the party and its supporters. Republicans must be too, he said.
‘I’ve said to Republican leaders, ”You go talk to your constituents and ask them, Are you willing to compromise your kids’ safety so some corporate-jet owner can get a tax break?” ‘
Obama mentioned corporate jets three more times before moving on.
But he provoked anger after it was pointed out that hundreds of wealthy Democrat donors – who Obama has rewarded with cushy jobs in government – fly on corporate jets.
Commentators also highlighted the amount of private trips Obama takes on private jets when going for family holidays.
For the third consecutive year Obama is planning to return to Martha’s Vineyard for vacation this summer, according to a White House official.
The Obamas are scheduled to spend seven to 10 days on the island in the Cape Cod in New England in mid- to late August, according to the official.
Arrangements for White House staff members and Secret Service personnel who travel with the Obamas have been made.
Obama has began focusing on the economy after repeated warnings from financial organisations and appalling poll ratings.
The Treasury Department says it must be able to borrow more money by August 2 or the U.S. faces an unprecedented default on its mounting $14.3 trillion debt, predicted to grow by $1.4 trillion by the end of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Obama, facing a re-election bid in November 2012, has watched his poll numbers languish below 50 percent approval, primarily because of the sluggish economic recovery after the Great Recession.
Critics point out that Obama simply lacks the strength to take on the federal reserve and big businesses that are pulling government strings on the economy.
With the coming election fight clearly in mind, he openly attacked Republicans for holding to what he called an ‘unsustainable’ position. Regardless, the opposition party says it will not vote to raise the debt limit unless Democrats agree – without any taxes increases – to $2 trillion in cuts to government spending over 10 years.
Obama’s aggressive response came with the country souring on the recovery, the Republican presidential contenders taking aim at his economic record and opposition leaders in Congress challenging him to show more leadership in the debt stalks.
His re-election hinges on the economy, and Obama is trying to restore a sense of public confidence.
Obama has faced such countdowns before.