Time magazine’s Mark Halperin called Barack Obama a dick on MSNBC this morning. The video clip is posted all over the web today, and Halperin and MSNBC have both apologized.
Forget about that for a second, and ponder why Halperin said it. The media line on Obama’s press conference is that he was unusually feisty, partisan and/or populist. These are qualities the media tend to abhor in Democratic politicians, who are constantly counseled to work with Republicans or stay in the media-defined “center” in order to succeed (and remember that their “center” is often off to the right, politically speaking).
It would seem that Halperin’s outburst came in that context– see this transcript from Mediaite:
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 — I was joking. Don’t do that. Did we delay that?
Halperin: I said it. I hope it worked.