Saturday, July 02, 2011

Is Mark Halperin a dick?

As you may have heard, Mark Halperin, of Time and MSNBC fame, a bona fide Beltway insider (for better but usually for worse), said this about President Obama on Thursday (on Morning Joe):

I thought he was a dick yesterday.

Okay. Whatever. Big deal.

He apparently didn't think his words would hit the airwaves (given the seven-second delay).

Everyone's entitled to an opinion and this was hardly an egregious overstep. Everyone can be a "dick" now and then. Including the president. (Though I watched Obama's news conference and found him to be anything but.)

Halperin apologized, as he ought to have done -- as he had to: "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."

And yet was suspended by MSNBC. Perhaps understandably so.

The thing is, it's not what he said that's the problem, it's who he is, or, rather, what he represents, what sort of a "journalist" he is.

The Daily Caller's Michelle Goldberg hit the nail squarely on the head:

Here’s why Mark Halperin is a disgrace. It’s not because he used a mild obscenity to describe our president on Morning Joe, disrespectful as that was. Rather, it was the circumstances of the slur. Right now, the Republican Party is threatening to blow up the world economy unless Democrats agree to savage cuts in spending while refusing any of the revenue increases that all serious economists say are necessary to actually address the national debt. Obama, whose greatest fault in office has been a misplaced faith in the GOP’s capacity for reasonableness, went on television and chided the party for this stance. Apparently, this struck Halperin as unreasonable. His response embodies all that’s rotten and shallow about D.C.’s pundit class, which fetishizes bipartisanship even as it only demands it of one political party.


Halperin should be forgiven for insulting the president. He shouldn’t be forgiven, though, for his role in perpetuating the idiotic assumptions of the establishment clique that lefty bloggers sometimes call The Village.


He’s part of a political class that has become so cowed by conservative attacks that it makes anti-liberalism its lodestar, constantly imputing strength to the right and weakness to the left.


Because Halperin is so determined to bend over backward for the right, he can’t come to grips with the central fact of modern politics—the death of Republican moderation. Today’s GOP is a congeries of Birchers, fundamentalists, nativists, and gold bugs that considers longtime conservatives like Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch unacceptably left-wing. Right now, it is playing a game of chicken with all of our financial futures, counting on the widespread fear that it really is crazy enough to unleash financial Armageddon, and the knowledge that the Democrats are not. The president tried, in a very mild way, to address his opponents’ dangerous intransigence. What kind of political journalist regards that as wildly inappropriate? Halperin has given us the answer.

I could not agree more. Shame on Mark Halperin. Shame on all those like him. Which is almost the entirety of the Beltway media establishment.

America suffers as a result of its distorted priorities, its willingness to play along with Republican bullshit, its inability to do its job properly.

Halperin is just part of the problem, one among many. But with his "dick" remark he encapsulated all that is wrong with this oh-so-influential corner of the media.

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