People in the spotlight seem to be having a bit of trouble thinking before they speak these past few days. Time editor-at-large and MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin is the latest to make a remark that has him in hot water. On MSNBC's Morning Joe show, Halperin and others were discussing yesterday's press conference when the reporter decided to put his faith in his fellow panelists' promise that there would be a "seven-second delay" (so producers could bleep out any offending material) and spoke freely, noting, "I thought Obama was kind of a d--- yesterday." But whoops! The seven-second delay didn't work, the word wasn't bleeped, and now Halperin and MSNBC can't stop saying "sorry, sorry, OMG, sorry!" Halperin was even suspended indefinitely.
Lots of news sources are calling this a "gaffe," but I'm not even sure that's the right word to describe it, because a gaffe would be a "clumsy social error."
And while this certainly was a big fat social error, I don't see it as clumsy. Someone at the forefront of news journalism should have known better.
This isn't a matter of freedom of speech. Halperin can say whatever the hell he wants -- off-camera. But in front of the camera and in print, he is paid to be a PROFESSIONAL journalist. (FYI, that's different from an opinionated blogger.) Maybe it's been a while since he was in journalism school, but I'm sure the backlash to this incident will be a wake-up call that the position he's in (or was in) is a privilege that demands a certain level of decorum.
Deciding to throw all caution to the wind and opt for frat boy word choice was in no way acceptable. And if it were to -- in some alternate, freaky future Idiocracy universe -- become okay, can you just imagine what would be next? Would it suddenly be alright for a Sunday morning newsmagazine panelist to call Michele Bachmann a "slut"? Maybe it would be no big deal if FOX came right out and called Jon Stewart an "a$$----."
You get the idea.
It's commendable that Halperin apologized immediately, and I give MSNBC props for doing the right thing by slapping him on the wrist with a suspension right away. Thank goodness they didn't just let it slide, because the quality of news journalism in this country has already been tanking hardcore for a while.
Here's a video of the incident, in case you missed it.
What do you think -- should Halperin and other news journalists be able to use that kind of language or should he/they be held to a higher standard?
Image via MSNBC