During coverage of the Malaysian plane which crashed in Eastern Ukraine, MSNBC’s hosts of The Cycle were pranked… badly.

After introducing someone billed as an American Marine sergeant live from an American embassy in eastern Ukraine (where there is no American embassy), MSNBC host Krystal Ball asked what he saw.

“It would appear that the plane was shot down from a blast of wind from Howard Stern’s ass,” the helpful guest submitted.

A competent guest booker would have more thoroughly vetted this person, but mistakes are made when news is breaking fast. At this point, a producer should have cut this guest off from the control room. That is not what happened.

“So, it would appear that the plane was shot down,” Ball replied. “Can you tell us anything more from your military training of what sort of missile system that may have been coming from?”

Yes, tell us more, helpful guest.

He obliged. “Boy, you’re a dumbass, aren’t you?” he asked.

After a stunned silence, and another ill-advised attempt to seek clarification from her guest as to what he was talking about, Ball finally went to break.

Ball did what she could in this situation, and this program’s producers and bookers are more at fault for letting this offensive call through. It is especially unforgivable on a day like today.

But the prankster in this case deserves particularly vigorous condemnation. Dark humor in dark times is a perfectly human trait, but you are a special piece of garbage if you think interrupting a newscast in order to promote a radio host is a great idea. Hundreds died, including, as was reported for most of the day, some 23 Americans. Their panicked and grief-stricken family members may have been watching. We can only hope they didn’t see this segment.