Obama adviser on Halperin: ‘He’s a decent person and a good journalist’

Presidential adviser David Axelrod is less distressed by Mark Halperin’s “Morning Joe” insult to the president than his former colleagues in the White House.

Axelrod told The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent Thursday that he’s known the Time magazine editor-at-large for decades and “he’s a decent person and a good journalist.” (For eight years before he worked in politics, Axelrod was a political writer for the Chicago Tribune.) Axelrod continued:

“I’m not going to comment on a network’s hiring and firing policies,” he said. “But I do think you have to take into account who the guy is and what he’s done over the long course of his career. While I disagree with him, and while he clearly made a mistake here, I don’t think it characterizes the sweep of his career.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney complained about the Halperin comment to MSNBC.

Here’s the “Morning Joe” exchange:

Joe Scarborough: Mark Halperin, what was the president’s strategy?
Mark Halperin: Are we on the 7-second delay today?
Mika Brzezinski: Oh, lordy.
Halperin: I wanted to characterize how I thought the president behaved.
Off-camera: How do you think he behaved?
Brzezinski: Well, we have it, we can use it, right, Alex?
Scarborough: Yeah, sure, come on, take a chance.
Brzezinski: Go for it.
Halperin: I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.

Given the discussion before the comment was made, it almost seems like perhaps Halperin — who knew he was about to say something objectionable and sought the cover of an audio beep — was encouraged to make it. As mediaite Rachel Sklar said in a series of tweets:

The Halperin story is more a Morning Joe story – about the off-the-charts comfort level for chummy conversation between regulars. …it makes for great, real, informative and exciting TV – but there is a lot of jokey skating close to the edge. Halperin skated over. That said, I can’t ever see Jon Meacham – also a chummy regular – ever saying that. It’s more about greater risk for expressing publicly… …what you’d express privately. Morning Joe is the closest to that kind of conversation on the air. Makes for great TV. But higher risk.”

On “The Daily Show” Thursday night, host Jon Stewart led his faux newscast with the Halperin story.

“People can argue whether that’s appropriate, whether Halperin crossed some sort of line, whether journalism has lost its professionalism, personally I could give a f— (bleeped out on air). That horse left the barn years and years ago. What’s interesting to me is not what he did, it’s what happened after they came back after the commercial.”

Stewart went on to mock “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist’s expression during Halperin’s apology.

Gawker notes this is not the first time Halperin has used profanity to describe Obama.

Halperin has been suspended indefinitely from MSNBC. Time magazine released a statement saying it reprimanded Halperin for the remark.

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  • Anonymous

    Please, respect. Let us not forget that he has grown in office to become the Racist-In-Chief.

  • Anonymous

    As in so many other things, you lose that bet.

  • Anonymous

    “No folks, President Obama can take anything they dish out. He paid his dues in the Chicago political wards.”

    And let us not forget the old saying, so true, “You can’t insult a whore.”

  • Anonymous

    Ms Green can’t help it. As a modern professional “journalist,” she’s undoubtedly spent her entire life cocooned in the soft fascistm of progressive institutions, where thought-crimes are not tolerated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sylvia-Kronstadt/1233698902 Sylvia Kronstadt

    The problem is not just that Halperin used a “bad word.”

    He used the WRONG word.

    Obama is a pussy and a weenie. He doesn’t have the balls to be a dick.

  • Rebecca Green

    Sigh. Aren’t you cute. Oh, to be young enough again for a Newsweek internship! It’s not a “colonized mindset,” it’s an actual recognition of a Glenn Beck quote, wrongly then attributed to Obama by the poster.

    I’m betting this is your first visit here?

  • Anonymous

    It’s amazing how authoritarian some lefties and journos can be. We’re supposed to be open-minded and opposed to knee-jerk dictums and authoritarianism. Let’s not forget that. More people listen to Glenn Beck than have ever heard of Tina Brown or Eric Boehlert of Media Matters.

  • Anonymous

    You’ve got to love the kind of colonized mind that slams Fox/Beck in one comment and then derides “partisan potshots” in the next.

    Hope that Newsweek internship works out for you this summer, Rebecca. Tina’s especially partial to biscuits with her tea.

  • Anonymous

    From a comment at the discussion over at The Belmont Club:

    “Google “teabagger on MSNBC” and you will get nearly a million hits.(970,000+) Google the more specific search phrase: “use of the term teabagger on MSNBC” and you will get more than half a million hits. (550,000+)

    “So somehow it’s acceptable to use the pornographic term “teabagger” repeatedly on MSNBC, to use it enough to generate nearly a million web hits, yet we are told it is “unacceptable” at MSNBC to use the term “dick” to describe a president (who himself is quoted using the term “teabagger” in Jonathan Alter’s 2010 book. BTW and for the record, Mr. alter is also a very frequent guest on a variety of MSNBC shows…)”No wonder they got their signals crossed.”

  • Anonymous

    Oh nonsense. Who made you hall monitor? You don’t get to make the rules here just because you’re cute when you get mad.

  • Rebecca Green

    How so, BM? This is a journalism site, for journalists to discuss the business and practice of journalism. This is not a place for partisan potshots, in the vein of your comment above.

  • Anonymous

    This is a very “soft” headline: He’s a good person. Yadda yadda yadda. What if some chap on FOX News had called Obama a “d***?”

    We’d never hear the end of it. Halperin and Morning Joe and MSNBC deserve the scorn they have reaped, at least for the weekend.

  • Anonymous

    Cheap shot, RG.

  • Rebecca Green

    Michael G and Patriot Mark: This is a forum and website where journalists discuss the news and the people who make it. If you want to use your FoxNews/Glenn Beck talking points, please wander off to another forum.

  • Anonymous

    Obama  need to realize what comes around gos around. He was the one that started the 2nd civil war when he went on the TV and said he has an extreme hatred of white people. 

  • Anonymous

    Okay can we back up a bit here? President Obama, that’s who was insulted? Right? and hand Rahn Emmanuel as his side kick? That Obama? The Obama who was raised in the rough and tumble political wards of Chicago? That Obama? Oh come on people, for crying out loud. Get over it. You’re  telling me that the Obama camp and the political machine can’t make light of that ….as in…example: OBAMA: “You know, I’ve been called worse in Chicago, and I think some of the others on the right have even called me worse. There’s a saying that goes, If it’s too hot in the kitchen get out.” That’s all that needed to be said. I took journalism in college and do I think that was a correct answer? Probably since he was asked and I don’t see the moderator being taken to the wood shed.   At least Halperin was historically consistent. No folks, President Obama can take anything they dish out. He paid his dues in the Chicago political wards.

  • Anonymous

    Okay can we back up a bit here? President Obama, that’s who was insulted? Right? and hand Rahn Emmanuel as his side kick? That Obama? The Obama who was raised in the rough and tumble political wards of Chicago? That Obama? Oh come on people, for crying out loud. Get over it. You’re  telling me that the Obama camp and the political machine can’t make light of that ….as in…example: OBAMA: “You know, I’ve been called worse in Chicago, and I think some of the others on the right have even called me worse. There’s a saying that goes, If it’s too hot in the kitchen get out.” That’s all that needed to be said. I took journalism in college and do I think that was a correct answer? Probably since he was asked and I don’t see the moderator being taken to the wood shed.   At least Halperin was historically consistent. No folks, President Obama can take anything they dish out. He paid his dues in the Chicago political wards.