Jon Stewart found a unique way to comment on the MSNBC Mark Halperin presidential profanity snafu – he focused more on “Morning Joe” regular Willie Geist than Halperin himself.
And it was a hilarious choice. Stewart opened “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central Thursday night with the story about how Halperin – editor-at-large for Time magazine who is also a political analyst on MSNBC talk shows – called President Obama a “d**k.”
As everyone knows by now, the remark was uttered on Joe Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” show Thursday morning, and it went out over the air apparently because the show’s rookie executive producer didn’t know how to work the seven-second delay button.
“We’re going to start with something that I saw on the TV box this morning that was maybe one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Stewart said. He then played the offending remark and expressed his utter disbelief that someone – particularly a political expert accustomed to appearing on television – would make a remark like this about the President of the United States on live TV.
But Stewart emphasized what happened afterward – when “Morning Joe” returned from a break and a contrite (and stricken-looking) Halperin issued a very strong apology to viewers, to MSNBC, the White House, the President, and just about everybody. But while he was apologizing, Geist was seen in the camera shot sitting next to Halperin and staring at him (Stewart called it “glaring”).
Rightfully, Stewart questioned why a director or producer included Geist in this camera shot in the first place. Usually, when one person is talking on a TV talk show, directors call for what’s known as a one-shot – which is a shot of just the person who is speaking. A so-called “two-shot,” in which another person just sits there saying nothing, is generally not the way these things are handled.
Could it have been another problem caused by an inexperienced executive producer? Who knows? Stewart then went on to portray Geist as the go-to guy for public apologies and we then saw a collection of clips of famous apologizers – Anthony Weiner, Elliot Spitzer, Tiger Woods, President Clinton, even President Nixon – in which a still image of Geist from “Morning Joe” was inserted nearby.
The result was to position Geist as the “Zelig” of public apologies – popping up in the background like the Zelig character in the famous Woody Allen movie to glare at public figures whenever they have to face the music and say they’re sorry.