As we reported earlier, TIME's Mark Halperin was "indefinitely" suspended from his contributor job at MSNBC this morning after calling President an expletive during a live broadcast. Despite his awkward apology, the brass at MSNBC apparently decided Halperin's remarks were so offensive, he had to be removed from the air. This got me wondering about the standards of what can and can't be said on the air at MSNBC and where they draw the line between political criticism and blatant disrespectful indecency.
Take for instance former host Keith Olbermann who took pleasure in deriding tea partiers as "poor, dumb, manipulated bastards":
Offensive? Apparently not by MSNBC's standards -- this kind of rhetoric was par for the course during Olbermann's primetime broadcast. Or how about when Olbermann characterized then-President Bush as a "murderous" "fascist."
And though Ed Schultz's horrendous comments about Laura Ingraham weren't made during MSNBC's air time, the network suspended him for only a handful of days.
Normally, I'd tell tell Mark Halperin not to fear -- MSNBC's standards of decency are about as high as their standards for reporting and he'll probably be back on the air before he knows it. But this wasn't a flippant remark about a conservative; this was a direct verbal assault on the apple of Chris Matthews' eye!
If you're he's going to be a good progressive team player, he'd better book that summer vacation now because he might be permanently benched.