Lean Forward

Mark Halperin didn't pull any punches when assessing President Barack Obama's attitude during a recent press conference.

To suggest President Barack Obama is thin-skinned is an understatement on a par with: “Michael Moore should cut back on the Ben and Jerry’s.” In fact, as our embattled President has watched events spiral well beyond his meager talents, he appears to be developing a mild case of paranoia — even lashing out at his friends.

Last week, MSNBC’s senior political analyst Mark Halperin made a rather unfortunate choice in describing the hostility the President directed toward the White House press corps in a now-infamous press conference, saying: “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.” Obama was so infuriated by Halperin’s description that he dispatched White House spokespuppet Jay Carney to step on Halperin’s neck. Carney called MSNBC, and less than four hours after Halperin made the remark, he was suspended.

Here’s the tricky part: I have no problem with MSNBC suspending Halperin, and not just because I remember Halperin from his days as ABC News’ political director — (in 2004, Halperin instructed his staffers at ABC to tilt their coverage to favor Senator John Kerry over President George W. Bush). It’s their network; if they want to run like dogs every time Obama rolls up a newspaper, they’re welcome to it. But when did MSNBC develop such a heavy hand with their “talent?”

Let’s be honest, kids. As much as we all agree with Halperin (and as much as we all might want to laugh at Obama for dropping the hammer on the guy), Halperin shouldn’t have said it, and MSNBC was right to sit him down. Not that the word he used isn’t a fair assessment of Obama; it is. But there are so many other words he could have substituted. His choice just seems lazy to me. Halperin would have been just as accurate describing Obama as an idiot, a buffoon, a moron, a clown, a jackass, self-important, smug, arrogant, rude, a jerk, a twerp, an Alinskyite loon or (my old man’s favorite) the south end of a northbound bear.

But MSNBC’s suspension of Halperin does provide us with one of those “teachable moments” of which Obama is so fond. The same network that was willing to send Halperin to the showers for insulting Obama dithered for two days before deciding its morbidly obese misogynist Ed Schultz needed a little time-out after he interrupted his usual hate-filled lunacy to call Laura Ingraham a “slut.”

Trying to determine whether to keep a bloviating moron like Schultz on the air would be a Sisyphean task on the best of days. I don’t envy MSNBC management’s struggles after his verbal assault on Ingraham. But it is worth noting that they took two days to discipline the big fella.

Schultz is hardly the lone talking hairdo on MSNBC who has stepped across the line. Keith Olbermann has finally been consigned to Al Gore’s television gulag. But the word from inside the organization was that Olbermann’s dismissal was related to his notoriously unpleasant general demeanor (ask the boys at ESPN, but make sure you’re wearing earplugs before you do), not because of his mendacious on-air shrieking. Left behind in the wake of Olbermann’s exile is his pathetic mini-me, Rachel Maddow, who once claimed Congressman Steve Stockman (R-Texas) knew about the Murrah Building bombing before it happened. Maddow, who ultimately blamed the gross defamation on “an editing error,” didn’t miss a day of work at MSNBC, despite having said a then-sitting member of Congress was essentially an accomplice of Tim McVeigh.

I don’t have the space to recount the myriad examples of MSNBC’s distinct port-side lean; and Mr. Livingston doesn’t have the bandwidth. As a true conservative, I fervently believe in MSNBC management’s right to employ whomever they wish and to discipline them as they see fit. But I can’t help but notice that the same liberals who spent the eight years of President George W. Bush’s Administration calling him everything from weak-minded to a war criminal have suddenly discovered dignified discourse.

My problem with the events surrounding Halperin’s visit to MSNBC’s time-out chair has nothing to do with the events themselves and everything to do with why they occurred. Someone at a redoubtably liberal outlet like MSNBC evidently can say almost anything he wants about conservatives, and the consequences — should there be any at all–– will be slow in coming and low in severity. But take a swipe at Obama, and all hell breaks loose. If I’m going to “lean forward,” it means only that I’ve lost the remote and I’m changing the channel.

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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