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MSNBC panelist suspended after Obama insult

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Hosts told commentator he was on delay, "Go for it"
  • Time columnist Mark Halperin has been kicked off MSNBC indefinitely
  • He has delivered both on-air and written apologies for the remark

New York (CNN) -- The MSNBC news network suspended political analyst Mark Halperin on Thursday after the Time magazine columnist used a four-letter insult to describe President Barack Obama.

Halperin quickly apologized for the remarks, in which he told fellow panelists on the "Morning Joe" program that Obama was "kind of a d--k" for blasting Republican lawmakers during a Wednesday news conference. He had been told the program was on a seven-second delay before he delivered his assessment.

He delivered what he called "an absolute apology, heartfelt" to Obama and to viewers after a commercial break and remained on the air. But MSNBC called his comments "completely inappropriate and unacceptable" and said Halperin would be suspended indefinitely from his on-air role. Halperin said he agreed with the move.

"My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it," he said.

Halperin is an editor at large at Time and the senior political analyst for the magazine, which like CNN is a subsidiary of the media conglomerate Time Warner. The magazine responded to reporters' inquiries by pointing them to Halperin's verbal and written apologies.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the remark "inappropriate" and said he had "expressed that sentiment to executives at the network."

"I have no comment on that, whatever action that network -- any network, any newspaper, whatever -- might take, because that's not for us to decide," Carney told reporters.

The exchange began as the show's host, former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, questioned whether Obama's Wednesday criticism of GOP leaders was merely "showmanship" ahead of tough negotiations over raising the federal debt ceiling.

"Are we on the seven-second delay today?" Halperin asked. "I wanted to characterize how I thought the president behaved."

He was told the delay was in place, with co-host Mika Brzezinski telling him, "Go for it." Scarborough added, "I'm behind you. You fall down, I'm going to catch you."

Halperin then said, "I thought he was kind of a d--k yesterday," as Scarborough and Brzezinski responded with a combination of shock and laughter.

"Oh my God. Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing?" Scarborough said. "I can't believe you. I was joking. Don't do that. Did we delay that?"

Told later that the delay hadn't worked, Halperin noted the remark "may have ended my career." After a break, he said he was sorry for the comment.

"This is not a pro forma apology," he said. "This is an absolute apology, heartfelt, to the president and to the viewers. I became part of the joke, but that's no excuse. I made a mistake, and I'm sorry and I shouldn't have said it."

CNN's Jordana Ossad contributed to this report.