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It was just supposed to be a joke?!

This morning (Thursday), Time magazine political editor Mark Halperin was, as he often is, a guest on the set of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he discussed President Obama’s feisty and combative press conference yesterday. Halperin, perhaps feeling a little feisty himself after being plied with free Starbucks, asked for and received assurances that the Morning Joe crew was on a 7-second delay, at which point he opined that Obama behaved like “kind of a d*ck yesterday.”

Unfortunately, the show’s new producer somehow didn’t know how to work the bleep button — um … you press it, with your finger, right? — and the expletive aired in all its vulgar glory. Halperin quickly apologized, but it was too late.

“I thought he was a d*ck yesterday,” Halperin, who also is a senior political analyst for MSNBC.

Host Joe Scarborough hoped to prevent the comment from being broadcast, saying, “Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe… don’t do that. Did we delay that?”

Minutes later, Halperin quickly apologized to the President and viewers for his choice of words. “Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that,” Halperin said.

“We’re going to have a meeting after the show,” Scarborough said.

According to Scarborough, there had been a mishap with the 7-second delay button – a new executive producer apparently didn’t know how it worked. “You are supposed to know how to do the job,” Scarborough said of his producer. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push.”

Later in the show, Halperin again apologized, saying, “I can’t explain why I did it. It’s inappropriate, disrespectful. I’ve already apologized, and I will again to the President. I’m sorry, I’m sorry to the viewers…It is disrespectful, what I said was disrespectful to the president and the office but it also lowers our discourse.”

Scarborough and Morning Joe Executive Producer Alex Korson said they were sorry for what happened.

“Certainly (host) Mika (Brzezinski) and I also apologize to viewers,” Scarborough said. “And we hear this all the time – parents come up and say, ‘Hey, by the way, we don’t just watch the show, our kids watch the show.'”

Less than an hour after Morning Joe concluded its broadcast, MSNBC issued the follwing statement:

Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.

Halperin also issued a statement:

I completely agree with everything in MSNBC’s statement about my remark. I believe that the step they are taking in response is totally appropriate. Again, I want to offer a heartfelt and profound apology to the President, to my MSNBC colleagues, and to the viewers. My remark was unacceptable, and I deeply regret it.

This story is baby fresh, so there’s likely going to be more backlash behind this one in the coming days. SMH … so disrespectful