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MSNBC suspends reporter over Chelsea remark

By
February 9, 2008

A distasteful comment about Chelsea Clinton by an MSNBC anchor could imperil Hillary Rodham Clinton’s participation in future presidential debates on the network, a Clinton spokesman said.

In a conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson on Friday excoriated MSNBC’s David Shuster for suggesting the Clinton campaign had “pimped out” 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to celebrities and Democratic Party “superdelegates” on her mother’s behalf.

Wolfson called Shuster’s comment “beneath contempt” and disgusting.

“I, at this point, can’t envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network,” he added.

MSNBC said Shuster, who apologized on the air for his comment, has been temporarily suspended from appearing on all NBC news broadcasts except to offer his apology.

“NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks,” MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said, adding the network was hopeful the debate would take place as planned.

Clinton and Obama are scheduled to participate in an MSNBC debate Feb. 26 from Ohio, which holds its primary March 4. The Clinton campaign has pushed hard for as many debates as possible with Obama, but Wolfson said the Feb. 26 debate could be jeopardized.

Wolfson pointed to what he called a pattern of tasteless comments by MSNBC anchors about the Clinton campaign. Weeks ago, “Hardball” host Chris Matthews apologized to the former first lady after suggesting her political career had been made possible by her husband’s philandering.

Shuster told The Associated Press he has tried to reach Clinton to apologize.

Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama, called Shuster’s comments “deplorable” and said they had no place in the political process.

Superdelegates are elected officials and other members of the Democratic National Committee who serve as upledged delegates to the party’s convention. They’re expected to play an important role in selecting the party’s nominee if the delegate contest between Clinton and Barack Obama remains close.

26 Responses to MSNBC suspends reporter over Chelsea remark

  1. incog99

    February 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    “Let the Conversation Begin!” Sure.

    Same old stuff. Say anything but this that and the other thing about the Imperial Presidency. Right, Let the Conversation Begin! unless you are a progressive or have something to say that is uncomfortable. I am tired of this Bush like control of the media and the public. We are free to say what we want to say within reason.

    As a Democrat, I will not vote for Hillary under ANY circumstances. Let them nominate her at their own peril in November. My portion of the ballet for the President will be left blank unless Obama’s name is in there.

    This is not a Bush Clinton monarchy!

  2. Carl Nemo

    February 9, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Let this summary, everso eager MSM support be a warning to us on how they will be supporting “Billary” if she wins the presidency.

    The remark was coarse and should be addressed, but not with a job suspension or possible termination. A simple public apology which has been tendered is all that’s necessary.

    Rest assured if she makes it, we best all be throwing rose petals at her feet and to never question “Big Sister”…no?!

    Along with our newly emergent, ever-fawning congressional politburo she’ll be turning America into their Clinton/Bush AmeriKa in a NY minute. Her presidency will be basically a “mop-up” operation doing to “we the people” what Bushco has not accomplished to this point.

    No more Clintons and no more Bush’s in the Whitehouse; ie., if you value the last few vestiges of freedom that we enjoy to this point in time…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. bryan mcclellan

    February 10, 2008 at 2:46 am

    Edwards -Richardson? Write in,independant voter, Where are YOU?

  4. Jenifer D.

    February 10, 2008 at 2:55 am

    GUESS WHAT?

    As far as I’m concerned, every single one of these hopefuls is a corrupt, lying, bull-sh—-ing piece of trash. “None of the above”, I say! Let’s just pick two members of ZZ Top, put them in office and we MIGHT make some progress!

  5. bryan mcclellan

    February 10, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Hello Jen,Maybe a little Strawberry Alarm clock for emphasis?

  6. SEAL

    February 10, 2008 at 3:12 am

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I am totally fed up with the headline of the day being who said what about who and the string of acccusations that follow.

    This is supposed to be a campaign by those who want to be president of the United States. Shouldn’t they be presenting the reasons why we should vote for them?

    All I have heard so far is I will change things and I am more experienced. What they will change and what they are experienced at I have no clue. They have not told us.

    Other than both professing to end the war ASAP the only issue has been one wants a mandatory health program and the other wants a volluntary one. However, both would be more of the same expensive system that enriches the insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical industries.

    Other than an occassional Bush bash there has been no reference to the terrible financial debt we have or how they would address that. Instead they are proposing a health care program that would add to it. The foremost topic should be the financial condition of this nation. It passed serious into critical long ago. We are bankrupt. Our money is worthless. Today, OPEC stated they were tired of losing money by trading in dollars and were considering switching to EUROS. When that happens we are fucked.

    If congress continues to allow Bush to pour money down the rat hole he has created in Iraq for the remaining year he has left, the incoming president is going to have to take drastic steps to prevent the total collapse of our economy. The very best we can hope for is a planned resession to avoid a full blown depression. I don’t see how we can avoid government controls being placed upon many industries and markets. And definently the rich and the corporations will have to lose their entitlements and be heavily taxed.

    Of course, the previous paragraph is why none of the candidates wants to talk about this problem. I suppose they will just let it be a surprise come January 2009.

  7. bryan mcclellan

    February 10, 2008 at 3:22 am

    How many,how many,and you really don’t want to know .Will buy into ,that surprise?

  8. Ted Remington

    February 10, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I have read the exchanges here with dismay, concern, yea, outright nausea.

    I did not make a count, but it feels as though the majority sees nothing wrong with calling Chelsea Clinton a whore because she supports and works for the candidacy of her mother. Didn’t Dubya’s twins work for his election and reelection? Did anyone call them whores? How many of you were outraged when that idiot radio guy called some female basketball players “nappy headed hos?” Yet you see nothing wrong with calling this young lady a whore.

    What the hell is wrong with you? You are stooping to the lows of Richard Nixon and his infamous “Ratf**k” crew, competing with Karl Rove for new lows in the political process. Elsewhere you snidely deride Senator Clinton for her “crocodile tears” on national television, declaring that this was done for one reason only, to get more votes. I watched that exchange over and over again, and I thought her genuine, but everyone is so interested in the politics of the personal that we will denigrate, abominate, and excoriate candidates for public office. Witness the swiftboat thing a few years ago. Mean nasty little people from the far right publicly ruined the reputation of a man who was head, shoulders AND torso better than his opponent. Can you imagine Bush out there putting his life on the line? Of course you cannot. But John Kerry put his life on the line so little George could sit in the o-club sipping whiskey, then retreating into the men’s room for a line of coke or two.

    SHAME ON YOU.

    And shame on all of us for allowing this sort of crap to ruin our country and its leaders. And the comment that it’s worse to call Ron Paul a wacko than to call Chelsea Clinton a whore is beneath contempt. Ron Paul may not be a wacko but some of his ideas are so far out of the mainstream of public opinion that they come pretty close to being wacko. I admire him and his independence, but I would not vote for him because this country would fall apart even worse than it has with some of those ideas coming to fruition.

    Then there was the question about whether the super-delegate setup in the Democratic Party is “constitutional.” The Democratic Party is a PRIVATE political organization. They can make their rules pretty much anything they want, and if some people don’t like the rules they can either try to change them or quit the party. If they want to have 4000 delegates stand up one by one and flip coins to decide whom they will vote for, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

    The same applies to the comment that talking to the super-delegates is jury-tampering. The aggregation of super-delegates is not a jury. It’s a part of the format that the Democratic Party decided to use so that party professionals would have a larger say in the event it appeared there would be a split convention, which may well turn out to be reality this time around. I don’t know how long they’ve had that, but if they had it in prior election years no one ever complained about it because there was no need to exercise its power.

    Ted

  9. SEAL

    February 10, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Thanks, Ted. That needed to be said. The media whores forego journalism for sensationalism. Instead of seeking to determine the candidates differences on the issues, they look for ways to establish some personal conflicts with he said she said using inflamatory remarks designed to stir the emotions.

    The readers buy into this and fan the flames by defending their favorite and we wind up with days of nonsense that has nothing to do with whether any of these candidates should be considered for the highest office in the world. The media will not be happy until they turn election campaigns into a political Jerry Springer show. And they will do it as long as people continue to allow themselves to be led into it.

    Grow up people.

  10. sherry

    February 11, 2008 at 2:35 am

    Ted thanks so much for your comments.
    I supposed what bothered me more than Shuster’s comment, ugly as it was, was the absolute contempt Shuster had in his expression and voice when the statement was made.
    Perhaps unbiased media is way too much to expect these days, but please, at least be decent about it.

  11. Wayne K Dolik

    February 11, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Like it or not these Super Delegates are most likely to stand in judgment in the Democratic Party. You don’t want to call them a Jury then try “Honest Arbiters”. The fact is they will most likely decide the outcome. Let’s call them the Deciders then, if you don’t like my comparison.

    The point is, the Clinton campaign got caught! And, the Clintons decided to spin the story to their advantage. MSNBC being oh so careful about the fact that they make a lot of money off these debates caved in and punished their bad boy. This is just another example of post 911 censorship. The free press is no longer motivated by freedom of speech but instead money and political correctness.

    In conclusion, it’s disgusting that these campaigns lobby these people. The leaders of the DNC should put a stop to the practice by both candidates. And, the Super Delegates should refuse to take these kinds of phone calls. I see this as an ethics issue.

    Let the voters decide. The last thing we need is to have a third Presidential election stolen. This could kill this democracy. The DNC needs to contact these two Clinton/Obama campaigns and make them cease and desist these kinds of practices.

  12. JudyB

    February 11, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Thank you Ted! The words “unbiased” and “decency” do not seem to apply when the name of Hillary is being used. MSNBC has been the biggest MSM offender, having allowed their reporters/hosts/pundits to abase anyone they have not deemed to be their choice as the Dem. nominee. Obama (whom I have nothing against) seems to be their choice thus escaped their seedy diatribes and comments. FOX NEWS is nothing more than an oxymoron, and MSNBC has become an unpaid supporter of Obama. Enough is enough..and in this case I say too much!

  13. Flapsaddle

    February 11, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    What else is it besides pimping?

    That is what a pimp does: Try and convince the potential “johns” of the desirability of an assignation with a particular woman of negotiable virtue. And that is exactly what Chelsea Clinton is doing – political pimping for her candidate-mom. She is an adult, raised in the world of political campaigning, she has had her childhood and early adulthood dragged through the muck generated by her father’s priapic predisposition, she knew what she was in for and – I would assume – figures that such things go with the territory.

    Were this 2000 or 2004, and were the Bush twins out stumping for Dad, it would be exactly the same thing and many of us would be saying the same thing of them.

    While Shuster’s words are generating a lot of faux shock among the chattering class, his straight-out assessment is nonetheless clearly on target. It is really very hypocritical to act all flustered and posture about allegedly “inappropriate” terms when most of us would have little problem saying exactly the same thing from behind the anonymity of our posting handles. Had he used the polite term for pimping – soliciting – would we have thought it to be in any way different? Shuster is suffering the fate of anyone who dares to make an honest statement about the world of politics – shoot the messenger and ignore the message.

    If Chelsea gets offended, well that’s just tough; she knows what the game is all about. If some others are in a dither over it, then they need to pull their collective heads out of their collective butts and stop this silly pretense of outrage – like the scene from Casablanca where Captain Renaud accepts his winnings while proclaiming that he is “shocked to find that gambling is going on here!”

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  14. Ted Remington

    February 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Mr. Flapsaddle

    It seems that you have twisted the words of this Shuster guy. He did not say that Chelsea was acting as a pimp. What he said was that Clinton’s campaign was “pimping out”, i.e, making a whore out of, Chelsea.

    By your reasoning, any child of someone campaigning for public office would be deemed to be a prostitute for asking people to vote for his or her parent. This is the exact sort of thing that is wrong with our political process: because of people like you who believe it is OK to libel and slander those in the public eye we are looking not at the politics of platform and position on the issues but at the politics of the person. How would you feel were I to call your daughter a whore because she said you were a good guy and we ought not to ignore everything you say? You would be morally outraged.

    You seem to think that anyone in politics gives up the right to take a moral stand about their families. Nothing, sir, is further from the truth. We should be outraged if a candidate stood by and said nothing when we vilified a young lady by implying our out-and-out stating that she was a woman of easy virtue. Our country would be far better off if we returned to the civility in politics which was pervasive in this country until the second half of the last century.

    It all began to come unglued in the late 1940s, and I charge Richard Nixon with having been in the forefront of this descent into the cesspool. He accused Voorhis of having been a comsymp because he was endorsed by labor unions. Then he went after Helen Gahagan Douglas in what was, to that date, probably the most scurrilous House campaign of the 20th century. And he got away with it, setting the stage for some 60 plus years of increasingly filthy politics.

    And another thing: unlike many here and elsewhere on the Internet, I choose to use my own name and to be proud of what I say and think. If asked, I will even provide my address and phone number. If I ran this site I would require people to use their real names. Nothing seems to enable terrible tongues and shrill rhetoric like allowing people to anonymously state positions without having the courage to put their names below their opinions.

    One last thing. I don’t understand this stuff about “The Clinton cmapaign got caught.” We all know who the super-delegates are. We all know this is a political process.

    Why is asking super-delegates for votes any different from asking rank-and-file Democrats (or Republicans) for votes during a primary, caucus, or general election? Is there some rule that candidates are not allowed to talk to super-delegates? After all, Senator Clinton, by nature of her duly elected position, is a super-delegate, as is Dereck Obama, if I understand the definition of super-delegate correctly. Are they for some reason not allowed to talk to fellow Democratic Senators or House members?

    I cannot imagine why it would be either permissible or adviseable to muzzle candidates this way. If the Democratic Party did not want super-delegates they would write them out of their constitution and bylaws. This IS a political process; it’s their rules, whether we like them or not.

    Ted

  15. Flapsaddle

    February 12, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Let me cover several things here.

    I interpreted Shuster’s use of the term “pimping out” differently than did you; I took it to mean that they (the Clinton campaign) had her out pimping for her candidate-mom. My entire post depended from that interpretation. If you believe otherwise, then we should perhaps agree to disagree upon the interpretation.

    On the question of a moral stand about family members, I believe that you do not give up that right, but you are a fool if you think your family members are immune. No, it is not right and it is not fair, but it is what happens.

    Historically, our earlier political contests make our current level of verbal/written exchanges look like a rather anemic Sunday school social. Do you know how savagely Jefferson was excoriated by his opponents? Burr and Hamilton escalated the exchange of words all the way to an exchange of bullets. Andrew Jackson fought how many duels over the insults given by opponents to him and to his wife? John C. Calhoun caned fellow legislators and editors who offended him. Do you recall how poorly Lincoln was dealt with, especially by members of his own party and own cabinet? How practiced in the politics of personal destruction were FDR and the Kennedy clan? Yes, Nixon played very dirty, but he is by no means the inventor of the game.

    About the “handles” used on forums: I used to feel much as you do, until an overzealous poster on another forum attempted to do me damage through the use of personal information that I had naively made available; thus, I no longer use my real name except on two forums. I would have used it here, but something in the registration process would not allow it. AFAIK, all decently-managed forums require that you submit your real name, a legitimate e-mail address and a valid daytime telephone number regardless of the handle you use.

    I am probably more blunt when posting under my real name than under this nom de plume.

    As to the super-delegate question, I really have no opinion since I am not now and never have been a votary of the left-leaning half of the bull in the china shop; however, I suggest that the basic algorith followed by both parties is intended to prevent any overly great exercise of actual democratic ideals.

    Please note that the DNC was perfectly willing to strip Florida of its delegates for moving its primary date to something earlier than agreed upon, and all of the candidates pledged not to campaign there – even though there was campaigning/shilling in abundance by proxy. However, I believe that Clinton – since she won the non-campaign campaign there – has asked that she be awarded all of the delegates

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  16. incog99

    February 14, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Hillary needs the debates more than Obama does at this point. MSNBC should let her pull out.

    Hillary is selfish enough to steal the nomination from the people and lose the election to McCain just to stroke her ego.

    I will not vote for Hillary, I will vote for Obama.

    Republican on the fence.

  17. murof

    February 9, 2008 at 8:20 am

    These moments of indignation in our decayed society are so precious and so contrived. Shuster always looks like a mental patient in a straight jacket, barely restrained from an ungodly act of monstrous proportion. But in this case I have to say that a media whore ought to recognize pimping when he sees it.

  18. WWWexler

    February 9, 2008 at 8:20 am

    He can’t envision a scenario where Hillary will debate on the network. How about this scenario… Hillary has lost momentum, is no longer a shoe-in, is writing personal checks to cover her campaign costs, and even crying for sympathy over something some reporter said won’t move her campaign forward?

    Oh, they’ll debate on MSNBC, all right, but not until this cow has been milked into a pile of dried up bones.

    -Wexler

  19. Sandra Price

    February 9, 2008 at 8:34 am

    I was more offended when David Shuster called Ron Paul a wacko. He has spent too much time in front of the cameras and should learn his manners and it went to his head. He could learn from Buchanan to control his insults.

    I seems to me that MSNBC is leaning toward the religious right and often tends to focus on those candidates who share the bible over the Constitution.

    We should look into these super delegates and see if they are constitutional. I have little respect for the DNC and the RNC as they tend to look like the old Boss Tweed days. But America is starting to look like the nation we fought against for our freedoms.

    We have morphed into a monarchy/dictatorship after only 230 years. America is a collective and the government will consume us if we continue.

  20. bluefusion

    February 9, 2008 at 9:25 am

    If you think that having health insurance through your job means you won’t have to pay Hilary’s mandatory health insurance premiums – think again! According to a September 18 Associated Press article, Clinton said in an interview with the AP: “… she could envision a day when ‘you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview — like when your kid goes to school and has to show proof of vaccination,’ but said such details would be worked out through negotiations with Congress.” Go Obama!

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/20070918-0856-clinton-apinterview.html

  21. Cobaltkid

    February 9, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Pandering MSNBC………..

    While Shuster’s choice of words was inappropriate, his basis for the comment was right on target. It is disgusting to see NBC/MSNBC engage in such pandering. Chris Matthews is incredibly prone to pandering – especially to Tom Delay, Howard Wolfson and others on Clinton’s staff.

    Why doesn’t Hillary respond herself if she has a problem and stop hiding behind her surrogates playing the maligned woman? Also, if Chelsea is going to play an active role in the campaign she should be prepared to accept the consequences.

    Just another example of the Clintons twisting everything to their own advantage. Next thing might be Hillary demanding to have the Florida and Michigan deligates seated! This crap is why the Clintons should not go back to the White House.

    Give David Shuster a raise!

  22. adamrussell

    February 9, 2008 at 11:09 am

    The words “pimping” and “snitch” are prime examples of prisonyard vocabulary. We dont need the TV setting that example for our children and other overly-impressionable of our population.

    Just as we have the right to insist on not allowing kids to see X rated content, we also have the right to expect that TV news broadcasting be held to some standard.

  23. Sandra Price

    February 9, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I agree with Adamrussel.

  24. bryan mcclellan

    February 9, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Weeds have been left long overgrown on the political playground to hide the pimps and whores that populate the seedy world of the campaign trail.While this reference would have been better left unsaid,it is clear that prostitution is the politicians forte.A spade is a spade is a spade.

  25. Wayne K Dolik

    February 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    The Democratic Party has determined that a Jury of Super Delegates will determine, the outcome, as “honest arbiters” in disputed selections of Presidential races. Therefore, any attempts to contact and influence, through bribes and undue influence, or any other desperation attempts would in fact be Jury Tampering!

    A more approximate word in this instance is “Jury Tampering”. But, this does not amaze me from a Clinton machine that believes that they must win at any cost. A few would in fact, consider this Pimping.

    Now that Hillary and company has effectively put MSNBC on the defensive, Barak Obama and Staff should consider not participating in the MSNBC debate. In light of MSNBC’s recent performances codling front-runners and favorite darlings; I smell a rat.

  26. bryan mcclellan

    February 10, 2008 at 2:38 am

    My Dear Mr.WKD :Those aren’t RATS you smell,it’s an accumulation of literary stench in the name of news/prognostication.