Mark Halperin Suspended From MSNBC, To Remain At Time Magazine After Calling Obama A Dick

Mark Halperin has been suspended by MSNBC after calling Barack Obama a dick on the air. Following is a transcript:

Joe Scarborough: Mark Halperin, What was the president’s strategy? We are coming up on a deadline and the president decided to please his base, push back against the Republicans.I guess the question is, we know a deal has to be done. Is this showmanship? A lot of times you go up there and both sides and they act tough so their base will be appeased, then they quietly work the deal behind the scenes.

Mark Halperin: Are we on the seven second delay?

Mika Brzezinski: Lordy.

Halperin: I wanted to characterize how the president behaved.

Scarborough: We have it. We can use it. Go for it. Let’s see what happens.

Brzezinski: We’re behind you, you fall down and we catch you.

Halperin: I thought he was a dick yesterday.

Scarborough: Delay that. delay that. what are you doing? i can’t believe — Iwas joking. Don’t do that. Did we delay that?

Halperin: I said it. I hope it worked.

Scarborough: My mom is watching! We’ll know whether it worked or not.

Halperin did apologize for this remark.

Time Magazine has not suspended Halperin but did issue this response:

“Mark Halperin’s comments on air this morning were inappropriate and in no way reflective of Time’s views. We have issued a warning to him that such behavior is unacceptable. Mark has appropriately apologized on air, via Twitter and on The Page.

I”m not terribly upset about a conservative pundit calling Obama a dick. I’m sure the president can handle such insults. The  bigger problem with Halperin is that he has had a long career promoting conservative memes, usually a bit more subtly, while being billed as an objective reporter. Hopefully the result of this will be that more people will be aware of his bias.  Plus, once his contract ends with MSNBC, I’m sure there will always be a spot waiting for him at Fox.

Keith Olbermann Out At MSNBC

Two months after having been suspended by MSNBC, Keith Olbermann has announced that tonight was his last show. Video hereCNN reports:

Keith Olbermann is leaving MSNBC, the “Countdown” host announced on his show Friday night.

The liberal commentator told viewers he had been informed “this was going to be the last edition” of his show, but offered no further details.

NBC/Universal confirmed the news in a statement Friday night.

“MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast
of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be this evening. MSNBC thanks
Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in
his future endeavors.”

Olbermann made the announcement in his typical deadpan style, evoking scenes from the film “Network” and thanking viewers for keeping him on the air for eight years.

“In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative,” Olbermann said before launching into a story about his exit from ESPN 13 years ago.

“As God as my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, ‘um, can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we get in this tennis result from Stuttgart,'” he said, half-smiling, pausing for composure.

“So I’m grateful I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless this is the last edition of ‘Countdown.'”

There were no comments on future plans but  Media Decoder reports that “one term of his settlement will keep him from moving to another network for an extended period of time.” They also report that Lawrence O’Donnell’s show will replace Countdown at 8 p.m. and Ed Schultz will move to 10 p.m.

Update:

My response on Facebook & Twitter:

Anyone want to start a rumor that Keith Olbermann left MSNBC to become White House Press Secretary, and watch some conservative heads explode?

The idea (regarding the rumor) and the underlying idea (Olbermann as press secretary) received a lot of favorable comments. There’s even media support from the idea. Among my Facebook friends giving this a “Like” on Facebook was Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune.

Update II:

Also got Rick Roll’d over this on Twitter.

Stephen Colbert Interviewed Out of Character

Steven Colbert assisted Reddit in a fund raiser for DonorsChoose by agreeing to do an interview out of his television character if $500,000 was raised. I’ve reprinted some of the questions here beginning  with his comments on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (text of his legendary talk here).

To this day I’m convinced that your appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was because the Bush Administration didn’t understand your show.

Did they? What happened behind the scenes there? Was it more “non-alcoholic beer in the Roosevelt Room” or “Dick Cheney peppering your limo with bird-shot as you beat a hasty retreat?”

I was as surprised as the next guy that I was invited to roast the President and the press corps that spring.

Here’s how it works. The White House Press Association (or some name close to that) actually does the inviting, not the President or White House. The president of the press association that year was a man named, I believe, Mark Smith, I think from the AP. He invited me. When all was said and done, I wrote to thank him and said I hoped I hadn’t made trouble for him. He said there was zero fallout.

As for the backstage aspects of the night, the President has a nice, small gathering in a room near the banquet hall. The presidential seal is etched into the granite on the floor. A few news anchors, football greats, cabinet members and advisors (I remember Rove and Chertoff, there were others I think), Rich Dahm, Allison Silverman, my brothers and sisters and mom, my wife Evie, and the President and Mrs. Bush. Let me say that the President could not have been nicer, especially to my mother. I have some lovely pictures of her with him. The President and I had a brief conversation before we went on stage. There were in total maybe 60 people at the party, many of whom I should remember more about, but I was pretty focused on my job that night. There was no backstage event after the dinner, but several parties around town.

I had my family up to our room for a drink then hit a party, don’t remember which one. We all had a great time. but I had no sense of public reaction until Monday at work.

On the complications of doing all interviews in character:

Do you sometimes wish you could not be in character for some interviews? Being in character, do you feel that it prevents some people from coming on the show?

Well these questions are really related. I’ll say that from my end of the interview, I often have a guest whose subject I happen to know a thing or two about, and I want to engage them intelligently, but I am an aggressively ignorant character. That is frustrating. Of course knowing their subject lets me make the dumbest possible characterizations of their position or idea. If you ever see me truly being vigorously dense with a guest, I probably know something of his or her subject. And as I said, yes, the character aspect may give some people pause.

In response to another question, Colbert also stated that, “No one doesn’t know I’m in character. I tell everyone first.” Of course it could also be said that the anchors on Fox and MSNBC’s opinion shows are also playing a character:

Jon Stewart’s interview on Rachel Maddow highlighted Jon’s philosophy on the difference between his role and the role of news people like Rachel Maddow.

What, in your mind, is the difference between your responsibility or job and the responsibility or job of a news anchor or 24 hour news host / personality? Do you feel you’re fulfilling your role? Do you feel they’re fulfilling theirs?

Thanks for doing what you do. You’re a funny, funny man.

I think Jon’s appearance on Rachel highlighted his ability to be pretty sharp after vomiting for eight hours.

As for the 24 cable hosts / personalities fulfilling their roles, you bet they do — as those roles are defined by their companies. If not, they are fired. The fact that the roles they fulfill are hard to recognize anymore, and have little to do with informing us, but are instead used to emotionally “engage” us with their brand personas, means I have a steady stream of material.

I too would be fired if I wasn’t fulfilling my role as defined by my company. Happily they define that as comedy, and I agree. I have no real responsibility beyond working hard on jokes.

Jimmy Carter Accuses Fox Of Distorting The News

Jimmy Carter is clearly correct in accusing Fox commentators of deliberately distorting the news:

Jimmy Carter said Sunday that Fox News commentators including Glenn Beck have “deliberately distorted” the news.

Speaking on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday, the former Democratic president took aim at the cable news channel climate, often a target for President Obama as well who says he tries to avoid the cable chatter.

“The talk shows with Glenn Beck and others on Fox News, I think, have deliberately distorted the news. And it’s become highly competitive,” Carter said. “And my Republican friends say that MSNBC might be just as biased on the other side in supporting the Democratic Party, the liberal element.” 

Discussing only the commentators misses the real problem. The problem is not only that Fox commentators such as Glenn Beck distort the news but that the the shows billed as news as opposed to commentary repeat the same distortions.

The situation at MSNBC is quite different even if the evening commentators may be as biased in the opposite direction. One difference is that, while they have a clear liberal ideological bias, MSNBC’s commentators do not see their job as promoting the Democratic Party as Fox promotes Republican candidates. MSNBC’s liberal commentators are often critical of the Democratic Party.

While MSNBC’s opinion shows are  biased, the information the opinions are based upon and information discussed is far more accurate than the supposedly equivalent shows on Fox.  MSNBC does not deliberatly promote deliberate misinformation as Fox does.

Another key difference is that the bias of the evening commentators is not carried around the clock. MSNBC has a conservative host during the morning hours. During most of the day they have legitimate news shows which do not repeat the views of the evening commentators the way Fox repeats distortions in their news.

The difference comes from how the stations were established. Fox was deliberately founded by Republican supporters with the intention of using the channel to distort the news to move the country towards the right. MSNBC is run by Republican supporters who found they can make more money by putting on liberals in the evening.

Name Change Possible at MSNBC

Media Decoder reports that NBC is thinking of separating the MSNBC web site from NBC News. In the long run this might be a good idea. The liberal bias of the evening shows on MSNBC have been a source of irritation to the news division at NBC, fearing that it taints their objectivity. MSNBC would also like to be able to use the web site to promote their own shows as opposed to being a straight news site.

It think it makes sense to have an MSNBC.com web site to promote MSNBC personalities such as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and a separate NBCNews.com to take over the news. The one downside to this from a business perspective is that the network might not want to give away the already established web site to their smaller division. Perhaps a better solution would be to continue MSNBC as the network news web site and come up with an entirely new name for the MSNBC cable network. This would allow them to establish a new web site to accompany the cable channel.

Fox does have it much easier, not caring if they have an objective news site at all as they don’t have a legitimate news division. Fox’s ability to distort the news comes from the manner in which their fake news shows reinforce the same ideas promoted by their openly labeled opinion shows. If Rachel Maddow devotes time to a story, such as C Street, only a portion of the MSNBC audience which is watching her show will see it. However Fox will coordinate their shows so that many of the “news” as well as opinion shows are talking about the same topics day after day. That way even trivial stories such as Obama’s birthplace or the new Black Panther Party are discussed endlessly until they move from Fox to the legitimate news media. Fox, unlike NBC, certainly has no need for separate web sites to differentiate their opinion shows from their news division.

David Weigle Gets Position At MSNBC

I’m glad to see that David Weigle found another job so soon after leaving The Washington Post (for reasons discussed here). Mediaite reports that he will be working for MSNBC. Keith Olbermann introduced him at the end of Countdown as new a “MSNBC contributor.” Mediaite has a video of the announcement and reports, “Mediaite has confirmed from MSNBC that Weigel’s role will be both paid and exclusive to the network. It’s likely, then that we’ll see Weigel show up on other non-Countdown programs on MSNBC as well.”

Advice For Republican Candidates

Former House majority leader Dick Armey has two pieces of advice for Republican candidates: don’t self- identify as a tea party candidate and stay off of MSNBC. This advice makes sense.Why would anyone in their right mind self-identify as a member of a band of people who have no understanding of the issues and limit their thought to simplistic bumper-sticker slogans? As for the second, it makes sense that Republican candidates avoid difficult interviews which would show they have no understanding of the issues and limit their thought to simplistic bumper-sticker slogans.

While the fundamentals work in favor of the Republicans in the upcoming off-year election, it is likely any gains will be a dead cat bounce unless Republicans take some additional action. Here’s some more advice I’d like to offer to them:

  • Don’t call yourself a supporter of small government and then support policies which increase the influence of the government in the lives of individuals.
  • Don’t call yourself fiscally conservative and then increase spending on credit while simultaneously cutting taxes for the ultra-wealthy.
  • Don’t run on national security credentials until you understand that going to war should be reserved as a last resort, and should not be done based upon lies.
  • Don’t talk about socialism unless you are really talking about socialists, and not centrist politicians such as Barack Obama.

Elizabeth Edwards Doesn’t Want Rielle Hunter To Become Step-Mother To Her Children

While the separation of Al and Tipper Gore is receiving all the headlines today, the failed marriage of another Democrat who was recently on a national ticket provides for far juicer stories. The New York Daily News reports that Elizabeth Edwards is trying to deny John Edwards custody of their children should she not survive her breast cancer.  Reportedly she does not want John’s mistress Rielle Hunter near the kids and has been preparing their older daughter Cate to care for the younger children.

Legally it is doubtful that Elizabeth would be successful in preventing John from having custody should she die. There is one possible way it could happen. John is already under investigation for use of campaign funds to pay Hunter hush money. Elizabeth might know of additional skeletons in his closet which could send John to prison, leaving Cate to raise the children.

Update: Elizabeth Edwards sent an email to Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC News denying the story.

Rand Paul Chickens Out of “Meet The Press” Interview

After demonstrating that he is not ready for prime time (or to serve in the United States Senate), Rand Paul has now chickened out of a planned appearance on Meet the Press.  Actually David Gregory should be a lot easier to handle than Rachel Maddow.I doubt Gregory has the intelligence to challenge Paul’s beliefs, and demonstrate how absurd they are, as Maddow did.

If he’s not going to appear on MSNBC or NBC, does he have the guts to do another  interview on NPR? I’d love to see him do an interview with Terry Gross as I think back to what she did to Bill O’Reilly (who walked out without finishing the interview).

I imagine he’ll do what Sarah Palin did when she couldn’t handle real interviews and spend a lot of time on Fox.

Jon Stewart Taking on Fox

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Bernie Goldberg Fires Back
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Comedy Central responded to their upcoming competition from Conan O’Brien at 11:00 p.m. on TBS by extending the contracts of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert through 2013. Even more importantly than helping maintain Comedy Central’s ratings, the two help provide a counter to Fox’s right wing propaganda disguised as news shows. Criticism of Fox’s overt bias has become a common target for Stewart, as is seen in the above clip. Additional  clips of Stewart mocking Fox have been posted here and here. The New York Times has a report today on Stewart taking on Fox:

“Stewart does a great job of using comedy to expose the tragedy that is Fox News, and he also underscores the seriousness of it,” said Eric Burns, the president of Media Matters.

The segments about Fox are often replayed hundreds of thousands of times on blogs and other Web sites, amplifying their significance. “Media criticism has become part of his brand,” said Mark Jurkowitz, the associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, who noted that Mr. Stewart had also dissected CNN and CNBC in lengthy segments in the past.

It is true that the often-left-leaning “Daily Show” deals with a wide array of topics, but Fox is one that Mr. Stewart is overtly passionate about; he said on the show this week that he criticizes the network a lot because it is “truly a terrible, cynical, disingenuous news organization.”

According to “The Daily Show” Web site, thedailyshow.com, Fox News has been a subject of 24 segments so far this year, including eight in the month of April. The lower-rated news channel CNN, by contrast, has been a subject of five segments this year.

In many of the segments, Mr. Stewart questions Fox’s journalistic practices. He noted that Fox had hired former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to be a political analyst in a January segment he called “News of the Weird.” But he wasn’t laughing when he asserted that Fox is “functioning as her de-facto rapid response media arm, and they’re paying her for the privilege of doing it.”

In February he noted that Fox News had stopped showing President Obama’s widely praised meeting with Republican leaders while CNN and MSNBC had carried it start to finish. Mimicking a Fox anchor, Mr. Stewart said, “We’re gonna cut away because” — humorous pause — “this is against the narrative that we present.”

In March he ridiculed the news anchor Megyn Kelly for lining up guests who were opposed to the Democratic health care overhaul and citing polls that claimed the American people were opposed to it. Then he played a clip from October 2008, when Mr. Obama was leading in most polls, of Ms. Kelly’s saying “don’t trust the polls.”