What choice did he have? If they let this slide, who knows how many “Obama’s a dick” jokes would be filling the airwaves at, um, the most famously liberal cable network in America? (Then again…)
Axelrod’s taking the high road on this, which is smart, but I do think they’re bothered by it and not without reason. “Obama’s a dick” is basically the opposite of the “adult in the room” crap they’re pushing as their 2012 messaging. It’s one thing for conservative media to say stuff like that (without the profanity, natch), it’s another to have it come in bracing, sensational form on cable news from a guy like Halperin who, for better or worse (read: worse), influences the CW among Beltway political journalists. Gotta nip those unhelpful memes in the bud before they propagate; as it is, the next time The One gets snotty at a presser or during an interview, reporters will point back to Halperin’s goof as a reminder that he’s been known to be petulant now and again. And yes, granted, they’ll all be in the tank once the campaign starts hopping, but the campaign won’t be hopping for nine more months. Lots of time still for damaging reads on O to spread in the media. E.g., if the economy continues to stagger and the public finally loses patience with him, the many stories about President Spock’s aloofness might start to play differently with voters than the “cool, cerebral” way in which they were intended.
As for the oft-repeated point today that calling a Republican a dick might have been treated differently on a network known for its fondness for “teabagger” jokes, well, yes. MSNBC wants access to the administration, and while there’s almost zero chance that the White House would punish them by cutting them off — especially when Fox stands to benefit — it was probably wise to play it safe and yank Halperin pronto.