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.”
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.