Whoops. It's turning into quite the morning for gaffes on the NBC/MSNBC family of networks. As noted here, during the Today opening, Meredith Vieira stumbled onto the sensitive subject of Matt Lauer's marital history. Then, during Morning Joe's 8 AM hour, Joe Scarborough accidentally dropped an f-bomb, provoking a protracted apolog-a-thon. [H/t reader P.C.]
During a break, Time's Jay Carney had apparently told a story of some politico who had used the f-word. Back on the air, Scarborough had actually been praising the discipline of the Obama team members. It was in describing them as people who, in contrast with the person Carney had mentioned, were careful with their words and deeds, that Joe's internal edit button went on the fritz.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The nature of this campaign has really been the steady nature of Barack Obama, the steady nature of David Axelrod, the not-so-steady nature of Robert Gibbs, only because he went to Auburn [the big rival of Joe's alma mater, Alabama]. But these are good, decent steady men that don't go around flipping people off or screaming [f-word you] at the top of their lungs.
Joe continued talking, clearly unaware of what he had just said. You can see Mike Barnicle's shocked reaction. After joking that the show would be subject to a seven-second delay, Barnicle soldiered on, as did Chuck Todd. Eventually the penny dropped for Joe, and he interrupted Todd to begin his extended mea culpa, which lasted right through a commercial break.
Mika Brzezinski came often and admirably to the defense of her colleague. "Come to Mommy, right here," she began, explaining to Joe and the audience that he had meant to say the letter, not the full word. Mika later added that the show was three daily hours of live, unscripted TV, with all its attendant linguistic dangers.
For folks that get up in the middle of the night to get ready for their show, and have just come through covering an historically long and grueling campaign, it's surprising that more of these mishaps haven't made their way onto the air. Scarborough was clearly mortified, his chief dread apparently that of going home to face his wife. Let's call a 5-yard penalty on Joe for unintentional roughness.
Update: What? I Can't Hear You
Barnicle might have been joking about the show being put on tape delay, but looks like he was unwittingly prescient. B&C reports that's exactly what's happened. H/t Stephanie Robbins.