MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday touted Barack Obama's handling of the BP oil spill and enthused, "I think they're doing better now, right? I think the past couple days have been great." It was left to Time magazine's Mark Halperin to offer the non-White House spin. He deadpanned, "Except the hole's not plugged." [Audio available here.]
Reversing the usual positions of a conservative and a member of the mainstream media, Halperin derided, "As long as the President's doing important things like going to rock concerts, I think everybody will understand." A defensive Scarborough shot back, "Nah, that's a cheap shot."
The Morning Joe host, supposedly the voice of conservatism on MSNBC, proclaimed, "...Nobody, when they go to the polls this fall, voting for a Democratic or Republican candidate, are [sic] going to blame Barack Obama and Democrats for not plugging a hole, I don't think."
Thursday's comments came in the wake of Scarborough attacking Karl Rove and other Bush administration conservatives on Wednesday.
On that day, Scarborough lectured Rove, "Just keep your mouth shut. I'm not saying don't criticize the president, but if you were involved in Katrina, keep your mouth shut."
On Thursday, Halperin sounded very much like those Scarborough told to shut up. Closing out the segment, the Time journalist opined, "I just think that, right now, people are saying his presidency could be defined by this. Because, if the stakes are that high, then he should be on the phone more. I think [Obama's] a smart guy and a great problem-solver. I would like him to spend every hour he has trying to work on it."
A transcript of the June 3 segment, which aired at 6:07am EDT, follows:
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: From my perspective, I think if there's any mistake made, that we haven't communicated clearly enough what the president has done on this oil spill from the beginning. We were there the first day, the first morning after that well had blew, and that platform collapsed. We were in the oval office. He mobilized everyone in the White House in the West Wing, made it clear that every single asset of the federal government should be made available.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Interesting. Actually, Joe Biden seems to make a lot of sense.
MIKE BARNICLE: So, why would they be mad at us?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It's what we said a couple days ago, actually.
BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, there's a little bit of a problem with getting the message out that they were on it from the get go.
SCARBOROUGH: I think they're doing better now, right? I think the past couple days have been great.
MARK HALPERIN: Except the hole's not plugged.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Right.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, I know, I know. I mean, but, again, nobody, when they go to the polls this Fall, voting for a Democratic or Republican candidate, are going to blame Barack Obama and Democrats for not plugging a hole, I don't think. Nobody–nobody–nobody believes that they can plug that hole. They believe that they can take charge, and be aggressive, and get out in front of it.
HALPERIN: As long as the President's doing important things like going to rock concerts, I think everybody will understand.
SCARBOROUGH: Nah, that's a cheap shot.
HALPERIN: I really don't think it is.
SCARBOROUGH: You don't think he should have had Paul McCartney in the White House?
HAPERIN: I mean, I just think the accumulation of how he's been spending his time in the last two weeks–you know, I hate to steal from Jon Stewart, except what I do–you know all the sports stuff, and golf, and basketball, and concerts--
SCARBOROUGH: Nah, I didn't see the Jon Stewart stuff. Somebody told me yes–I guess Phil Griffin told me yesterday that Jon Stewart went after him for all the basketball games and all the other stuff going on.
HALPERIN: I don't think he should curtail his life completely but this is a serious thing. And, you know, there's a line between cheap shot and criticism, but I just think symbolically–
SCARBOROUGH: For how long, though? I mean it's not going to get better until August, possibly December. How long do you tell the President --
HALPERIN: Until people have confidence that everything that can be done is being done. That may be true, but it's clear that people in the media don't have that confidence, and I think public opinion shows that people are concerned as well. And I just think it's too much. Every day, he's doing visible stuff that doesn't show a focus on this.