Howard Kurtz and his panel on CNN's Reliable Sources had high praise for Mark Halperin Sunday, but they did not endorse his use of an expletive to describe President Barack Obama.

"Having seen the clip, I'm struck by the fact, if I'm Mark Halperin sitting there, I think the hosts are telling me to speak my mind," The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti told Kurtz. "I didn't see any sarcasm in Mika or Joe... I'm on Mark Halperin's side here. They were egging him on."

"Now the indictment is being expanded to saying Mark Halperin is the epitome superficial theater criticism and, you know, empty beltway conventional wisdom," Kurtz noted.

"Mark Halperin has earned his reputation as a serious journalist," The Hill's A.B. Stoddard insisted. "I worked with him at ABC News. He is tireless. He's devoted and he's also as a commentator, I always find him quite measured and cautious. So, it is a surprising episode but I don't think there's anything to criticize in Mark's past."

"Halperin had been on this program a number of times," Kurtz said. "He's a substantive guy. The show that he was on, Morning Joe, three hours a day of guests sitting around talking about policy and politics may be the most substantive show on cable news so it seems to be this indictment that -- yes, they do the theater of politics like everybody does, like we do here on CNN -- but it seems to me that he is now the poster boy for superficiality strikes me as a bit unfair."

Watch this video from CNN's Reliable Sources, broadcast July 3, 2011.

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