Time’s Mark Halperin Calls Obama A “Dick” On Morning Joe

The early morning segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe included a moment that everyone involved probably wishes hadn’t happened:

Mark Halperin, editor-at-large for Time, called President Obama “a dick” on Thursdayon a popular MSNBC morning show and then quickly apologized.

“I thought he was a dick yesterday,” Halperin, who also is a senior political analyst for MSNBC, said on Morning Joe, referring to the President’s conduct during his press conference.

Host Joe Scarborough hoped to prevent the comment from being broadcast, saying, “Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe… don’t do that. Did we delay that?”

Just minutes later, Halperin quickly apologized to the president and viewers for his choice of words. “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,” Halperin said.

“We’re going to have a meeting after the show,” Scarborough said.

According to Scarborough, there had been a mishap with the seven-second delay button – a new executive producer apparently didn’t know how it worked. “You are supposed to know how to do the job,” Scarborough said of his producer. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push.”

Later in the show, Halperin again apologized, saying, “I can’t explain why I did it. It’s inappropriate, disrespectful. I’ve already apologized, and I will again to the President. I’m sorry, I’m sorry to the viewers…It is disrespectful, what I said was disrespectful to the president and the office but it also lowers our discourse.”

He also tweeted to his followers, “I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President and the viewers of Morning Joe. My remark was not funny. I deeply regret it.”

Politico has an edited version of the video, but here’s a longer one that puts the whole thing into context:

A minor kerfuffle, or a rare moment of honesty?

Update: Here’s a much longer video that puts the entire incident, and the aftermath into context:

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Matt says:

    A minor kerfuffle, or a rare moment of honesty?

    Both, I think. ‘Petulant’ would have been more accurate than ‘dick’, but reporters tend to have small vocabularies.

  2. lunaticllama says:

    Our media is so “liberal”!

  3. hey norm says:

    I’m pretty sure that the President cares a great deal about clowns like Halperin. The funny thing is that Halperin has never had an original thought in his life. He’s the definition of the Washington stenographer, and everything that is wrong with todays journalism. So who did Halperin hear actually say this?

  4. lunaticllama says:

    Also remember, Matt Drudge rules Mark Halperin’s “world”

  5. hey norm says:

    This too is like when Obama called out the Ryan plan for what it actually is…and Ryan got all pouty and called him a big meany. Heaven forbid the President should ridicule the so-called republicans for bending over to preserve corporate jet deductions and oil subsidies and farm subsidies while slashing medicare and education. This posse of insane clowns who call themselves republicans was elected on promises of repairing the economy and bringing back jobs. Since then all they have done is propose to increase the debt, vote to increase the debt, and move to gain further control over the uteruses of America. Their one single economic policy idea – cut taxes – is a proven failure at providing growth or jobs. Yeah – if I were them I’d be upset too, because as they say, the truth hurts.

  6. Franklin says:

    I don’t really give a rat’s ass. If he was a dick, call him a dick. But coming from Halperin, it doesn’t really mean anything anyway.

  7. legion says:

    Wow. I’m not a big fan of either Scarborough or Halperin, but the fact that they both seemed genuinely apologetic and – in Scarborough’s case, since it’s his show – appalled at a moment of unprofessionalism, that’s really uncommon in this day and age. Darn near unheard-of that the host wouldn’t just ‘double-down’ on the sentiment. I actually have to respect that.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    I vote for a minor kerfuffle and a rare moment which shows the truth of how silly the claim our media is liberal actually is. I await with bated breath some pundit of Halperin’s stature saying the equivalent at McConnell or Cantor or Boehner saying no increases to taxes are possible. But Obama is being a dick for saying the Democrats have agreed to spending cuts, so the Republicans need to agree to remove tax loopholes.

  9. IanY77 says:

    Meh, this was the guy who bent over backwards during the 2008 election to praise McCain. When McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he owned, Halperin called it a win for McCain. It got to the point that I really believed that McCain could have been caught with a dead girl and a live boy, and Halperin would have awarded the week to McCain.

    But yeah, this is the “liberal” MSNBC? Could anyone imagine a conservative commentator on Fox calling Bush a “dick”?

  10. BJH says:

    one guy says one word on one show and now the takeaway is that the media isn’t liberal? lol.

  11. sam says:

    Heh. On what was Dave Schuster’s final appearance on MSNBC as an anchor, his last comment was about the Tea Party, FreedomWorks, and, I think, the rally in DC. His last words were, “It takes a Dick Armey to do that.”

  12. Dan Rather says:

    one guy says one word on one show and now the takeaway is that the media isn’t liberal? lol.

    That seems to be the JournOList talking point making the rounds on the lefty blogs.

  13. This one probably kills his next book deal.

  14. Dan Rather says:

    Looks like the high priests of the leftist collective at MSNBC have already stepped in to crush the heresy. Halperin’s been suspended for the crime of criticizing Obama.

    “What liberal media?” “The one that suspends people for criticizing a Democrat.”

  15. EddieInCA says:

    Here’s what irks me about this: It clarifies the “inside the beltway” mentality, where a guy like Halperin is considered a “straight shooter”, who is a “dispassionate arbiter of truth”. He’s presented as a middle of the road moderate – an everyman.

    His Dad worked for the Nixon White House.
    He’s been a Washington “insider” his entire life.
    He was one of the largest defenders of the Bush II White House.
    He spun EVERY McCain debacle as a plus for McCain.
    He never fails to take a shot at Obama, even when unnecessary.

    In other words, he’s a right-leaning pundit presented as a moderate. He’s not a moderate. Never has been, if you have been following his career at all.

    Lastly, if Obama was a “dick” yesterday during his presser? What does he call McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, etc, etc for their many, MANY comments disrespectful to the president?

    Right….. Nothing.

  16. narciso says:

    Well not surprisingly he accepted outright lies and distortions, in ‘Game Change’ including
    anonymously sourced garbage about McCain cursing out his wife, so what’s the difference.

  17. narciso says:

    His father, works for the Soros Center for American Progress, when he left the Administration,
    as head of the Washington Office of the ACLU, supported Phillip Agee’s campaign against
    the CIA, that we now know, from Mitrokhin, was a KGB/DGI effort. this claimed at least one life in Richard Welch, and he opposed the law preventing disclosure of Intelligence status, he has been on a crusade against law enforcement and intelligence since that time. From his perch at CAP he fanned the flames, in the Plame matter, while ignoring the myriad burnings
    of rendition flights and intelligence officials involved in the war on terror, thanks for playing,

  18. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Joe Scarborough still is on the airwaves? Time Magazine still is being published??

  19. Simply Devine says:

    Not only should he be suspended…..but Joe and Mika too….let the young guy in the middle stay on by himself he seems to have more intelligence than the other ones…particularly Joe and Mika…they too are very disrespectful to this President. Joe continues to feed his lies and his I know everything ideas to the public…as his partner in shame stands by and agrees. Kissing up is easy when it comes to Mika she does it well.

    And to the Republicans you guys haven’t had a IDEA since 2003 or beyond…..just down right pacifier suckers.

  20. Simply Devine says:

    It’s also a shame that the Republicans are playing the No game at such a crucial time in America….already considered the Party of NO….they seem to be unwilling to grow up and stand behind our President….who happens to be doing a great job. THe Debt ceiling needs to be raised and not be gambled with, August 2nd is fast approaching and the Treasury Department has made it plain and clear that we are going to default on our country’s debt…..what a dice roll that the Republicans are playing with…on our Country’s future. Boehner and McCullough are gambling with all of the American people’s future. It’s time out for playing games….it’s not funny, it’s not smart and it’s not right….How can we be the land of the free and the home of the brave and the greatest country ever with all of these unnecessary games being played by the Republican party. It’s not right!!!! Raise the debt ceiling because it needs to be…then let’s talk about it….but let’s not put our country in default simpy because the President is a Black man.

  21. That Guy says:


    Using the “logic” of the left, one could say that George W. Bush wasn’t a Republican because he had a number of liberal policies.

  22. EddieInCA says:

    Using the “logic” of the left, one could say that George W. Bush wasn’t a Republican Conservative because he had a number of liberal policies.

    Fixed that for you.

  23. That Guy says:

    Fixed that for you.”

    That doesn’t negate what I said.

    Your statement is a completely different claim.

  24. Frances says:

    There are many Americans who would like to see the country fail because we have a black president. They will use any means necessary to prove that a black man cannot govern. Unfortunately, some of them are in very high places including elected govermental officials.

    This President has worked harder than many presidents and has done a very good job with all things considered. God Bless you Mr. President. Continue to work for a better America for all its people.

  25. bandit says:

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  26. Robert in SF says:

    @Dan Rather: Not for criticizing President Obama, but for using classless language like that…sure, it might be a uniquely suited word to describe how he feels the President acted, but to use it in this context, on a morning talk/political discussion show, just reveals that the person doesn’t have the wherewithall to act in a dignified manner…sort of like calling a person a “douchebag” when they don’t refer to the President with the proper respectful title, even if the person disagrees with him vehemently about issues …sure it’s a perfect word to describe them, but it’s not professional or classy in any way to do it on that show, at that time…So MSNBC wanted to do something about it, and they did…it’s the free market after all.

  27. Dan Rather says:

    Robert in SF, that’s a nice story you tell, but it’s a lie.

    Halperin got booted because he criticized Obama. (Note: I don’t worship Obama like some obsessed cultist, so I don’t feel any compulsion to chant some PBUH-type honorific every time I mention his name. Despite the delusions of some on the left, he’s not a god; he’s a politician.)

    If Halperin had called Bush (or McCain, or Palin, or Boehner, or another Republican Emmanuel Goldstein du jour) a “dick”, he’d’ve been just fine. MSNBC hosts and commentators use pretty vulgar and insulting language against Republicans and conservatives on a regular basis without management crashing down on them like a ton of bricks and suspending them within a few hours. But for his heresy against Obama, Halperin was punished.

    (And I haven’t seen anyone claim this wasn’t the free market at work. MSNBC is free to be as liberally biased and left-leaning as they want, and if they choose to keep their on-air talent in line by suspending the ones who insult Democrats, they’re within their rights to do so.)

  28. Muffler says:

    You know calling the President a “dick” just shows Halperin’s underlying dislike of Obama and complete lack of respect for him being the President. He can say anything he wants off air, but “losing” his sense of awareness on air shows how deeply he hates him.

  29. hey norm says:

    @ Dan Rather…
    I have to disagree. Had anyone called Bush a dick I’m pretty sure they would have been gone. Ed Shultz was suspended for saying something nasty about a silly republican pundit, so the facts don’t seem to match your ideology.
    In addition Fox News would have fanned the flames of faux indignation so hard and fast it would make the Arizona wildfires look like a single match stick.
    I am not a pundit on TV…but I always say that George Bush could not say no to Dick…………(Cheney that is).

  30. An Interested Party says:

    Who knew that referring to the President as “President Obama” made one an obsessed cultist…

  31. john personna says:

    I think Halperin was wrong, but that the word was not out of line for early morning cable. They get a little fuzzy as the coffee kicks in.

    That said, Hey Norm had a good explanation of why Halperin was wrong.

  32. NoEmptySuits says:

    The truest thing anyone has said about Obama.

    A president shouldn’t use a WH presser to call out his political opponents. He was being petulent and unprofessional.

  33. sonrisa says:

    @NoEmptySuits: not quite- a dick has a head.

    but I agreethe presser was petty & unprofessional