White journalists have had a variety of reactions to Time magazine analyst Mark Halperin’s off-color characterization of President Obama Thursday on MSNBC, but black journalists are taking the insult much more seriously.
In social media, in conversation and among the few who have access to opinion columns, the Halperin remark is seen as nothing less than part of a continuing pattern of disrespect of the nation’s first black president and further evidence of an old (white) boys network that controls the plum jobs in the news media.
“Imagine if it had been, oh, never mind,” a member of the National Association of Black Journalists wrote to his colleagues, leaving unsaid the words “a black journalist.”
“Do the rules of decency not apply with Obama?” read a headline on theGrio.com over a column by Goldie Taylor.
On Thursday, cable news network MSNBC indefinitely suspended Halperin, a senior political analyst and prominent Time magazine columnist, after he called Obama “kind of a dick” on the network’s “Morning Joe” show. According to Webster’s New World dictionary, a slang definition of the word is “a man who is regarded as obnoxious, stupid, etc.: mildly vulgar.”
“He did so after he’d been assured by co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that the show had a seven-second delay in effect and that he should ‘take a chance,’ as Lisa de Moraes reported in the Washington Post.
Time did not suspend Halperin but said, ‘We have issued a warning to him that such behavior is unacceptable’ and noted that he had ‘appropriately’ apologized.
Journal-isms asked the three candidates for president of the National Association of Black Journalists for their views about the incident. In these edited comments, each mentioned respect and implied a double standard was at play, if they didn’t say so outright.
Deirdre M. Childress, entertainment/film/weekend editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, said: