Let's Examine What Constitutes "Appropriate" Speech on MSNBC
July 1, 2011
RUSH: The White House says an off-color remark about President Obama by MSNBC analyst Mark Halperin was inappropriate. I heard other people play it and they bleeped it out. I don't know why anybody bleeped it out. They said it. Here's something else now. I'm also being told that Halperin on MSNBC was told that what he was going to say wouldn't be heard because there was a seven-second delay. Now, folks, I'm a highly trained broadcast specialist, you're sitting there on live television, "Look, I want to say something, but can we bleep it?" You just don't say it! (interruption) We use the deedle button. Is our deedle button even hooked up now? Let me hit the deedle button. Nothing happens. Okay, here's the deedle button. (deedle) There we go. See, I can deedle myself. (deedle) Yeah, I'll do it again here. You know what I love to do? You get some sweet little old lady on the phone, "Hi, Mr. Limbaugh, I just love you so much, I and my husband, we have been listening to you for 35 years, you are the greatest... (deedle)." I love deedling these little old ladies saying nothing wrong making everybody in the audience say, "What the heck did she just say that they had to deedle?" I have fun with the deedle.
We take no chances with our delay here. We're on a 40-second delay. It used to be standard seven-second delay in the broadcast business. We, of course, are trend-setters. We went to 40 seconds, and the reason we went to 40 seconds, there's two reasons. One, to have fun with it. If somebody says something we know we've got 40 seconds to on-air decide, while you can hear us deciding, "Gee, should we let that go by or not?" Count down, ten seconds to go, five seconds -- okay, bleep it. Another reason why there's 40 seconds is so that there is no panic on the part of anybody at the broadcast engineer console. We got time to make the decision. The point is that what you're hearing me say now actually occurred 40 seconds ago. So any of you people on the phone attempting to corrupt the program or pollute it with your own profanity, you're not gonna get away with it. It's impossible. (interruption) Now, when I say deedle little old ladies, I mean this (deedle). Come on, Snerdley, where is your mind today? (laughing) Here, ladies and gentlemen, Mark Halperin yesterday on MSNBC Morning Joe, the Joe Scarborough show with Mika Brzezinski.
HALPERIN: Are we on the seven-second delay today? I wanted to characterize how I thought the President behaved. ... I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.
RUSH: Now, the White House says that that remark was inappropriate. The White House says it's inappropriate. White House spokesman, Mr. Claire Shipman, Jay Carney said that "the comment was an inappropriate thing to say about any president," except George W. Bush. Well, he didn't really say that, but you know damn well if Halperin had called Bush that name they wouldn't even have apologized. "White House spokesman Jay Carney said the comment was an inappropriate thing to say about any president. Carney also said he had expressed that sentiment to network executives. Halperin quickly apologized on the air Thursday. MSNBC suspended him indefinitely hours later. MSNBC also said Halperin's comment was completely inappropriate and unacceptable. The network apologized to Obama."
So let's take a look here. The word "dick" inappropriate. But the Republicans will hurt disabled kids is totally permissible. The Republicans will hurt college kids. The Republicans will take food out of old people's mouths. Totally appropriate. The Republicans want to take Social Security checks away from old people, totally appropriate. Paul Ryan will push your grandmother to her death over a cliff in a wheelchair, totally appropriate. The rich are selfish, mean-spirited, extremist racists, totally appropriate to say. Conservatives are racist, sexist, bigot, homophobes, totally appropriate to say. It is totally appropriate to make up quotes I never said and attribute them to me. It's totally appropriate for left-wing sportswriters to invent things I never said, that's totally appropriate.
The word "dick" is inappropriate. It's totally appropriate for the president of the United States to tell a mother asking him about her 100-year-old mother whether or not his health care plan would give her a pacemaker, it's totally appropriate for the president to tell that woman, we'll just give your mom a pain pill. That's totally appropriate. I'm gonna bankrupt the coal industry. You can go ahead and open a coal-fired power plant if you want, but you're gonna go bankrupt 'cause that's my intention, said Obama, totally appropriate. You can't just get on your corporate jet and go to Vegas anymore; those days are over. That's totally appropriate. Don't listen to Rush Limbaugh, that's not how things get done. Totally appropriate. It is totally appropriate to lie, to malign, to impugn people if you are a liberal Democrat from the White House on down. But it's inappropriate to use the word "dick" on NBC.
RUSH: Matt, Morris County, New Jersey, welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, how you doing?
RUSH: Very well, sir. Thank you.
CALLER: I'm a huge fan, listen every day, even named my dog after you. I just wanted to let you know that you're actually not playing the full clip of the Mika and Joe excerpt there with Halperin. I think that speaking of sabotage, they sabotaged him. Even Joe goes, "Oh, we got your back." The camera pans to the production staff back there, "Oh, yeah, we'll hit the button, we'll hit the button." And they didn't. My question on top of this is, even if they hit the button, what woulda happened? Would the White House still be upset? I'd like to get your feeling on that.
RUSH: Well, two things there. You are right, we didn't play the whole clip because brevity is the soul of wit. We get to the meat of things here at the EIB Network. That's the first thing that we do. We don't dillydally around in all the extraneous stuff. But you're right, he did say, "Are we gonna be delayed here?" and Scarborough, they thought that they had a competent production board op back there that was gonna bleep it. But that's still no excuse. You don't take the chance. Folks, there's an old rule of thumb. When something is on tape, you intend for it to air, because there's always a chance to edit it if it's on tape, if it's not really live.
The Scarborough show is not really live. There's a seven-second delay. They are on tape. Now, they're claiming that their board op failed and didn't know how to implement the whole thing. I don't think they set him up. I think they like Halperin. But let's start with the sound bites on this since you bring it up. This is Mika Brzezinski, and this was this morning on Morning Joe, they were talking about the waning support for Obama on the network. They're being accused of not having enough support for Obama on that network.
BRZEZINSKI: We're getting hit a lot lately for not bringing on people who speak on behalf of the White House and really stick up for the president. But we are bringing people on, but they're not doing it as much lately.
RUSH: Could you imagine this, the White House thinks that Mess NBC doesn't have enough Obama supporters, and so Mika Brzezinski says, (paraphrasing) "Yeah, we're being hit for that. We're bringing people on, but they're really not sticking up for him as much." Can you believe this? (laughing) We're bringing in the supporters, but they're not supporting. Here's Mr. Claire Shipman, this is Jay Carney, this is yesterday afternoon at the White House, the daily press briefing, a reporter said, "What is your reaction to Mark Halperin's comments this morning and MSNBC issuing an apology."
CARNEY: The comment that was made was inappropriate. It would be inappropriate to say that about any president of either party. And on behalf of the White House I expressed that sentiment to executives at the network. We just expressed our concern about the inappropriateness of the comment.
RUSH: Is that how you sounded when you called? (imitating Carney) "I'm Jay Carney, going to call MSNBC." (imitating dialing)
"Uh, Phil Griffin, please. Yes. Yes. I'll wait. Jay Carney, the White House. Yes. Yes. Yes. I'll wait."
(imitating Obama) "Jay, what did they say?"
"I'm on hold."
(imitating Obama) "You let 'em have it, Jay, when they pick up."
"I'll handle it."
"Hi. Phil Griffin."
"Yeah. Phil, Jay Carney, White House. No, we met at a party. Dan Snyder's suite, Redskins, you remember? No, I'm at the White House now. Yeah, I'm the press spokesman. You know, Phil, I'm really concerned here. Well, Halperin, that was... I really wanted to express our concern about the inappropriateness, you know, the dick thing. Yeah, that'd be good, yeah, suspend him for awhile. Okay, okay, thanks, Phil, any time."
Is that what that call was like? But where does the White House get off calling a news network telling it what it can and can't say? Seriously now, where does the White House get off thinking it can call a news organization and say, "I don't like what you're saying. It's inappropriate." Let Richard Nixon try that. Let Dick Nixon try that sometime. Well, but the point is they don't call Fox, they call their buddies. MSNBC is their buddies. That's who they call. But Mika, you know, we love you here Mika, but you didn't do them any good there by saying you get some Obama supporters on, but you just can't get 'em to talk the guy up.