Lesson from Halperin’s MSNBC suspension: Don’t dare trash Barack Obama

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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You can give money to political candidates. You can call a conservative radio talk show “a slut.” And you can even go as far as suggesting a former First Lady is “pimping” her daughter out and get a slap on the wrist.

But don’t you dare besmirch the name of President Barack Obama.

That would be the conclusion one could draw from the indefinite suspension of MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin after he declared Obama was “a dick” during his press conference on Wednesday. Although Halperin apologized, the suspension came within an hour of the end of the show he made those ill-advised remarks, “Morning Joe.”

But if you look at other punishments MSNBC has handed out publicly, the indefinite suspension doesn’t measure to other prominent examples in the past:

  1. Ed Schultz – gets a one-week suspension without pay for calling conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham “a slut” on his radio show last month.
  2. Joe Scarborough – gets a two-day suspension for contributing to political candidates without clearance from NBC-Universal management in November 2010.
  3. Keith Olbermanngets a similar two-day suspension two weeks earlier for political contributions as well.
  4. David Shustersuspended indefinitely for violating terms of his contract by shooting pilot with CNN. Was also suspended briefly in 2008 during Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination for suggesting Clinton’s daughter Chelsea was “pimped out” for political purposes.
  5. Donny Deutschreportedly suspended for criticizing Keith Olbermann in April 2010
  6. Don Imus – Initially suspended in 2007 after making disparaging remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, but show was later completely dropped by MSNBC.

But what about some of the MSNBC indiscretions that have gone unpunished? “Hardball” host Chris Matthews has made outrageous statements including saying the country should “put Exxon signs up over Arlington Cemetery” and has also alleged tokenism from the Bush administration by calling former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell “showcase appointment[s].” And former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has also been a target – calling her “profoundly stupid,” “a dolt,” and an “empty head,” all having gone unpunished.

One of MSNBC’s more mild-mannered hosts, Rachel Maddow hasn’t been innocent of her derogatory comments about others. In 2009, the host of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” along with the now-defunct Air America host Ana Marie Cox went into a long borderline-inappropriate rebuke of the Tea Party movement.