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Halperin’s Suspension is Much Ado About Very Little

Much of the political/media world is abuzz about MSNBC’s “indefinite suspension” of Mark Halperin, who during his appearance on “Morning Joe” used a (mildly) vulgar phrase to refer to President Obama.

It seems to me the punishment is too severe, in part because of extenuating circumstances. As you can see from the video clip, there was a lot of banter going on and Halperin was under the (mistaken) impression that a seven-second delay would keep his comment from being broadcast. In addition, Halperin, once he realized what happened, offered an unqualified and heartfelt apology. Beyond that, though, is the fact that what Halperin said – which virtually everyone agrees wasn’t terribly tasteful – was anomalous. He’s typically fairly careful, precise, and measured in his words. (Here’s Halperin on Charlie Rose earlier this week.) 

In situations like this, people need to be judged by the totality of their acts. And Halperin is, I think, an impressive reporter, someone whom I take seriously even when I disagree with his analysis. (The book he co-authored about the 2008 election, Game Change, was outstanding). I would only add this: if MSNBC could for years provide a home for and a microphone to Keith Olbermann, it can certainly forgive Mark Halperin for his momentary (and unusual) lapse in judgment.

This is much ado about, if not nothing, then about very little at all.


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