It's not often during midday cable news broadcasting you get to see raw emotion from one or two of the hosts. However, when President Barack Obama gets snubbed, there are exceptions to the rule.
On MSNBC on April 10, co-hosts Contessa Brewer and Carlos Watson put their disapproval on display for viewers to see while reporting a decision by Arizona State University not to award Obama an honorary degree for speaking at the school's commencement next month.
"In other news, President Obama will be giving the commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13th. But the president will not be getting an honorary degree according to the school. Here's why, quote, ‘While President Obama has already achieved remarkable success including becoming the first African-American president, his greatest work is yet to come. We will be delighted to consider him for an honorary degree once he leaves office at the end of the presidency.'"
"What?!?" MSNBC's Contessa Brewer said, in response to the statement read by
"I think it's comical too," Watson added.
However, Al Felzenberg, author of "The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game," explained this has happened in the past - to President Ronald Reagan in 1986 by none other than the prestigious Harvard University.
"First of all, this is the dumbest decision that a university every made since Harvard fired Larry Summers," Felzenberg said. "Let me tell you, there is some precedent for it and it's equally ridiculous. Back in 1986, Harvard University chose to break with its own tradition since our country was born. Every 50 years, Harvard on its anniversary date has conferred an honorary degree to the sitting president. They gave one to Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. They denied to give one to Ronald Reagan in 1986. Ronald Reagan was very gracious about it and he sent George Schultz as his substitute."
Brewer then ranted about Arizona State's decision and suggested Obama didn't need their degree anyway.
"I mean - honestly, it's not like the president really particularly cares about getting an honorary degree from ASU," Brewer said, with a condescending tone. "However - he's a Harvard-educated, Ivy League man. But that aside, every university that I know of, when they invite a commencement speaker, they give an honorary degree. It's almost like it's a reward for saying yes."
Brewer cited a few lines from an April 9 East Valley Tribune editorial lobbying the University to reconsider, and then asked Felzenberg, "This is an embarrassment for ASU, isn't it?"
To further illustrate her point, Brewer pointed out that in 1986, Kermit the Frog received an honorary degree and further expressed her disapproval of ASU's decision.
"You know, I will say - maybe this is in ASU's defense, but every school has different standards for awarding honorary degrees," Brewer said. "For instance, Kermit the Frog received one from Long Island Southampton College in 1996. If Kermit the Frog can get an honorary degree from a real university, are you people kidding me? Honestly?"
Watson even suggested that president of the university might be "in trouble" for allowing this decision to stand.
"You know, I say if this stands, I got to believe the president of ASU is in trouble," "How could you be the president of that major university and allow this to stand."
"Lame brain decision," Brewer concluded.