MSNBC’s David Shuster has been taken off the air for a comment he made about Chelsea Clinton being “pimped out” in her role on her mother’s campaign. The network suspended Shuster for an undetermined period of time, calling the remark “irresponsible.” Shuster apologized to viewers for what he called “inappropriate” language.
I apologize to the Clinton family, the Clinton campaign, and all of you who were justifiably offended. . . . I am particularly sorry that my language diminished the regard and respect she has earned from all of us and the respect her parents have earned in how they raised her.
Shuster’s suspension comes just a few weeks after two sports anchors were taken off the air for offensive comments. But his case raises issues theirs did not. Shuster is a reporter who’s been out covering the Clinton campaign. I worked with him at CNN, and I’m confident he would never have made a remark like that that in a news story, or even in a live shot during a newscast. But he said what he said while playing a different role, filling in for talk show host Tucker Carlson. It’s an awkward position for any journalist to be in. MSNBC’s hosts, like Carlson, Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann, are flippant, edgy and opinionated. Shuster was trying to fit the mold. He crossed the line, and no doubt learned a lesson. The question is whether MSNBC has learned that it should stop pushing reporters to be hosts.