Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, TIME editor-at-large and Beltway Terminator Mark Halperin said the president acted like “kind of a dick” at yesterday’s press conference. Naturally, every Tom, Dick Mick, and Harry is seizing on Halperin’s comment because of its volcanic implications for the debate over how Washington should address the debt and job crises. Okay, that’s a lie, but still… it was pretty funny.

Take a look at this video courtesy of Politico.

If you’re going to call someone a dick, best to do it from a perch of total non-dickishness. Alas.

Before making his honest assessment of the president’s performance, Halperin asked Joe co-host Joe Scarborough if the show was able to switch on the seven second delay because, “I wanted to characterize how I thought the president behaved yesterday.” Then he made his dick assessment, grinning like a six year old saying the F-word for the first time. Immediately, Scarborough told someone to “delay that,” which they did not, because, according to Politico’s report, a new executive editor didn’t know how to work the button. Scarborough was not pleased. “We’re going to have a meeting after the show.” (Dickish TV types make a habit of blaming those hard-working behind-the-scenes folks.) Halperin apologized with what sounded like a complete pro-forma caught-with-my-pants-down “sorry” which he insisted was genuine and not pro-forma at all. Fair enough. The guy needs access—he’s been given a $5 million advance on his next book.

Kudos to ineptitude on all fronts, I say. This little incident has revealed/reinforced the fact that a) folks like Halperin are concealing or at least massaging their honest assessments when appearing on shows like Morning Joe, slipping into off-the-record Washington whispers when they want to talk honestly among friends during what some viewers might mistake for live and frank political discussion, and b) shows like Morning Joe are willing to accommodate just that.

I know, I know: mom dyed those eggs and hid them, my baby teeth are in a jar somewhere in the garage, and Santa isn’t a shoddy gift-wrapper, dad just likes his lagers. But sometimes it’s nice to see the mall Santa’s beard slip a little.

And just as I finish writing this… MSNBC has announced Halperin “will be indefinitely suspended from his role as an analyst.”

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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.