MSNBC's Shuster falsely claimed he said "Americans should be proud of" Chelsea Clinton before his "pimped out" comment

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

Addressing a remark he made about Chelsea Clinton's work on her mother's campaign -- "doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way" -- MSNBC's David Shuster stated that "last night, I used a phrase -- some slang about her efforts. ... [T]o the extent that people feel I was being pejorative, I apologize for that. I should have seen that people might view it that way, and for that, then I'm sorry." However, Shuster never mentioned the specific "slang" he used in reference to Chelsea Clinton's campaign work, and he falsely claimed that, during the same segment in which he referred to her "being pimped out," he said "Americans should be proud of [Chelsea]" and that "everybody, all of us, love" her.

On the February 8 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, correspondent David Shuster addressed a remark he made about Chelsea Clinton on the February 7 edition of MSNBC's Tucker that "doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way" by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign. On Morning Joe, Shuster said of his comment: "Well, last night, I used a phrase -- some slang about her efforts. I didn't think that people would take it literally, but some people have. ... [T]o the extent that people feel I was being pejorative, I apologize for that. I should have seen that people might view it that way, and for that, then I'm sorry." However, despite saying he "apologize[d]" for the remark, Shuster never mentioned the specific "slang" he used in reference to Chelsea Clinton's campaign work that he claimed had been taken "literally." Moreover, Shuster falsely claimed that, on Tucker, he also said that "Americans should be proud of [Chelsea]" and that "everybody, all of us, love" her.

Just prior to issuing his "apolog[y]," Shuster stated: "Well, last night, on Tucker's show ... I said a lot of wonderful things about Chelsea. I praised her; I said Americans should be proud of her; I talked about how [Republican presidential candidate] Mike Huckabee has praised the Clintons for how they've raised her, and the fact of the matter is, as I said last night, everybody, all of us, love Chelsea Clinton." But, while Shuster did note on Tucker that "[p]olitical opponents like Mike Huckabee have credited the Clintons for raising such a poised and self-possessed young woman," he did not say "Americans should be proud of [Chelsea]" or that "everybody, all of us, love Chelsea Clinton."

Specifically, while discussing Chelsea Clinton's campaign work with nationally syndicated radio host Bill Press and online columnist and former CNN correspondent Bob Franken on Tucker, Shuster asserted: "For most of the Bill Clinton presidency, then-teenager Chelsea Clinton remained out of public life. Political opponents like Mike Huckabee have credited the Clintons for raising such a poised and self-possessed young woman. Now, just shy of her 28th birthday, Chelsea is out and about on her mom's behalf, campaigning in Nebraska as Saturday's caucuses approach. What is the Chelsea factor?" Shuster then said to Press: "Bill, there's just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea is out there calling up celebrities saying, 'Support my mom.' And, apparently, she's also calling these super delegates." After Press responded, "Hey, she's working for her mom. What's unseemly about that? During the last campaign, the Bush twins were out working for their dad," Shuster asked: "But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?" He then said: "I will give Chelsea Clinton a break when she sits down and gives an interview to somebody like ... Bob Franken, because if she ... wants to do all this stuff, then she should face the questions, right?"

A few moments later, when Franken stated that "apparently, the strategy is that she [Chelsea Clinton] can go out there and neutralize" Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) support among young people, adding, "More power to her," Shuster replied: "Well, I say more power to her. But I also think that the collective Washington media, which has respected these sort of unwritten rules of staying away from Chelsea, not asking her questions, that that is now out the window." Shuster had previewed the segment by asking: "Is Chelsea Clinton her mother's best weapon against Barack Obama?"

Following Shuster's "apolog[y]" on Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist stated: "[I]f you know anything about David Shuster, you know that he was not being pejorative in that ... remark." Co-host Mika Brzezinski added: "No, no. ... But, you know ... you do a lot of live television ... we have to be transparent, and when we don't hit a home run, we say it." Shuster concluded: "[A]s I said last night, America has a lot to be proud of in Chelsea Clinton ... and the way the Clintons have raised her ... and I hope that point wasn't lost in this."

According to a February 8 report on the Washington Post blog The Trail, media critic Howard Kurtz wrote that Shuster also "plans to apologize tonight on 'Tucker,' the 6 p.m. show on which he was filling in for host Tucker Carlson yesterday."

From the February 8 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SHUSTER: Can I take care of a housekeeping matter?

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, please. Go ahead, David.

GEIST: Sure, David.

SHUSTER: OK. So, you know how yesterday we ran this clip of women from The View. Chelsea Clinton had called them?

GEIST: Yes.

SHUSTER: Well, last night, on Tucker's show, we ran the same clip, and then out of that, I said a lot of wonderful things about Chelsea. I praised her; I said Americans should be proud of her; I talked about how Mike Huckabee has praised the Clintons for how they've raised her, and the fact of the matter is, as I said last night, everybody, all of us, love Chelsea Clinton.

But we also talked about the fact that Chelsea Clinton, as the campaign has acknowledged, she's making calls to these super delegates to try to help get Hillary, her mom, the nomination, which can be, as I pointed out, the unseemly side of politics. Well, last night, I used a phrase -- some slang about her efforts. I didn't think that people would take it literally, but some people have. And to the extent that people feel that I was being pejorative about the actions of Hillary -- of Chelsea Clinton making these phone calls -- to the extent that people feel I was being pejorative, I apologize for that. I should have seen that people might view it that way, and for that, then I'm sorry. So --

BRZEZINSKI: All right, fair enough. Fair enough.

GEIST: And if you know anything about David Shuster, you know he was not being pejorative in that --

BRZEZINSKI: No, no.

GEIST: -- remark.

BRZEZINSKI: But, you know --

SHUSTER: But, you know --

BRZEZINSKI: -- you do a lot of live television, and you have to --

GEIST: That's true.

BRZEZINSKI: -- we have to be transparent, and when we don't hit a home run, we say it.

SHUSTER: And again, I mean, as I said last night, America has a lot to be proud of in Chelsea Clinton --

BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely.

SHUSTER: -- and the way the Clintons have raised her --

BRZEZINSKI: Lovely girl.

SHUSTER: -- and I hope that point wasn't lost in this, a little bit.

BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely, fair enough. David, thank you very much.

From the February 7 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

SHUSTER: Still to come: Is Chelsea Clinton her mother's best weapon against Barack Obama? The 28-year-old makes inroads with young voters, breaking into Obama's strongest growing base. We'll get to that in just a moment. But first, here's a look at your headlines.

[...]

[begin video clip]

JOY BEHAR (co-host, The View): The phone rings and who is it? "Hi, this is Chelsea Clinton." So, I said, "Really?" ... And then I get a call from you five minutes later.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG (co-host, The View): Yeah, five minutes later: Ring, ring. "Hello?" "Hi, this is Chelsea Clinton."

[...]

SHERRI SHEPHERD: She was like, "Hi, this is Chelsea Clinton." ... "What you doing now?" She's like, "Well, you know, I'm really proud of my mom." And I was like, "Talk up! I can't hear you."

[end video clip]

SHUSTER: For most of the Bill Clinton presidency, then-teenager Chelsea Clinton remained out of public life. Political opponents like Mike Huckabee have credited the Clintons for raising such a poised and self-possessed young woman. Now, just shy of her 28th birthday, Chelsea is out and about on her mom's behalf, campaigning in Nebraska as Saturday's caucuses approach. What is the Chelsea factor?

Here, again, are nationally syndicated radio talk-show host Bill Press and online columnist Bob Franken. And, Bill, there's just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea is out there calling up celebrities saying, "Support my mom." And, apparently, she's also calling these super delegates.

PRESS: Hey, she's working for her mom. What's unseemly about that? I mean, during the last campaign, the Bush twins were out working for their dad. I think it's great. I think she's grown up in a political family; she's got politics in her blood. She loves her mom. She thinks she'd make a great president. Michelle Obama's out there for --

SHUSTER: But doesn't it seem like she's being --

PRESS: -- her husband, so --

SHUSTER: But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?

PRESS: No. She's there -- listen. If she didn't want to be there, she wouldn't be there. I mean, give Chelsea a break. I think it's great. Again, Michelle Obama's out there for her husband. What's the big deal, David? I --

SHUSTER: Well, here is the big deal. I will give Chelsea Clinton a break when she sits down and gives an interview to somebody like --

PRESS: Oh!

SHUSTER: -- Bob Franken, because if she --

PRESS: Oh, yeah!

SHUSTER: -- wants to do all this stuff, then she should face the questions, right?

PRESS: Well, yeah Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, did Oprah give an interview to Bob Franken? Did Caroline Kennedy give an interview to Bob Franken? I mean, come on!

SHUSTER: I don't know, let's ask Bob Franken. Bob?

FRANKEN: No, and I'm feeling very, very left out here. But I would be -- to be very honest with you, I would think it was much more remarkable if Chelsea Clinton came out for Barack Obama. Of course she's going to be out there campaigning for her parents. They seem to have a nice relationship. And, why not? And of course, what is really at the base of all this is the discussion about Obama and his young support. He is leading what we can cynically call, I suppose, a children's army, with his message of change and a generational change and all that -- not bad for a guy who's almost 50 years old. But the -- apparently, the strategy is, is that she can go out there and neutralize that a bit. More power to her.

SHUSTER: Well, I say more power to her. But I also think that the collective Washington media, which has respected these sort of unwritten rules of staying away from Chelsea, not asking her questions, that that is now out the window. That it's now fair game, that when you and I, Bob and Bill, when we see Chelsea out there at these campaign events, there's nothing wrong with going up to her with a microphone --

PRESS: No, that's --

SHUSTER: -- and saying, "OK, which super delegates did you call?"

FRANKEN: Well, with one teensy, weensy --

PRESS: That's true. That's true.

FRANKEN: One teensy, weensy problem: She has Secret Service protection, so it gets a little bit dicey.

SHUSTER: Yeah, I mean, the logistics are complicated.

PRESS: David, I would just say. David, I would just say: You can ask her a question, but she doesn't have to answer.

SHUSTER: All right. Let's turn now -- let's turn to Barack Obama: a couple of stories today that suggested that there's a certain burden of expectations now that are on the Obama campaign. Bob, is that fair?

UPDATE: NBC News president: Shuster suspended for Chelsea Clinton comments

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
David Shuster
Show/Publication
Tucker, Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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