David Shuster's Emails

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If you want to know why Shuster was suspended, baby, this is it.

The title of this post says it all: "The Mess at MSNBC."

Politico.com has put up the entire email exchange between the Clinton campaign and David Shuster. It's also been in the comments here, as well as being passed around via email. One can hardly find a more ignorant move from Shuster than this. Putting your spin into text. Not only did he defend the indefensible, but digging in your heels on something like this is just plain stupid. As I said originally, he's built up a lot of reserve for his reporting, especially on Libby and other matters, but it's clear he doesn't understand the double standard towards Chelsea Clinton, especially when compared to the kids of the other candidates. Romney's sons all campaigned for their dad, but in the middle of a war he supports, has one reporter asked them why they haven't served their country? Are they being "pimped out?" If Shuster had made this comment about Obama's kids, the furor we're witnessing right now would pale in comparison to the shouts for Shuster's head. As a radio person and on air commentator, I'm not calling for that at all. If you talk for hours extemporaneously, you're always one sentence away from saying something stupid. But what made matters worse for Shuster was his disgraceful non-apology on "Morning Joe."

The truth about Shuster is that he never intended to apologize; didn't want to; was made to. The exchange below reveals it. It's also why he ended up getting suspended. Imagine this attitude being displayed while his bosses were getting besieged by phone calls, emails, as well as irate MS/NBC female employees. Shuster's cluelessness is one thing, his unprofessionalism is another. But in this day and age putting your idiocy in text form is just dumb. It's also arrogant and gets to the heart of the problem. MSNBC has obviously sent a message, whether through Chris Matthews or their continual genuflection to all things Obama, that all things Clinton are fair game. It's important that everyone see the evidence. Mess at MSNBC, indeed.


Original Message-----

From: Philippe Reines
To: David Shuster
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 7:14 p.m.

David - how hard is it for someone, anyone, in the vast MS/NBC universe to contact any one of us at the campaign for comment about Chelsea before going on air and saying that she is being "pimped out" ? It's absurdly offensive. And what the hell does that even mean?

I just don't get MSNBC - does GE not allow you to make toll calls? What's the problem.

Philippe Reines
Press Secretary
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

-----Original Message-----
From: David Shuster
To: Philippe Reines

Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 8:51 p.m.

Nice to hear from you, philippe.

It is a fact that chelsea has made calls to superdelegates, as your campaign colleagues have acknowledged. It is also a fact that the campaign has reacted quite harshly to any media who have sought to interview chelsea. That was the point. By slamming any reporter who seeks to chat with chelsea while simultaneously having chelsea do campaign tasks such as trying to convince super delegates to support her mom, that's the reference.

Chelsea is polite and does a fine job of saying "I don't want to talk.". But for campaign staff to then jump down the throat of a reporter who seeks to talk to chelsea...that's an issue.

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Sent using BlackBerry

-----Original Message-----
From: Philippe Reines
To: David Shuster

Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:00 p.m.

Since you guys asked for the transcript - here specifically is what David said on air:

SHUSTER: "But doesn't it seem like she's being--but doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"

I have a hunch that such offensive and unacceptable language was never used on MSNBC's air about Karenna Gore, the Bush twins, Venessa & Alex Kerry, Kate Edwards, the Romney sons - or any other adult offspring who chose to campaign on behalf of a parent.

-----Original Message-----
From: Philippe Reines
To: David Shuster

Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:16: p.m.

David - I want to make sure I'm crystal clear here - you're saying that because she doesn't grant interviews and makes calls on behalf of her mother, you are right to say that she is being pimped out?

I don't need to read a the whole transcript for context, you were way out of line. Nobody's jumping down your throat about asking for an interview or talking about calls she made. And you know it.

There is simply no excuse for being so offensive.

By actually rationalizing your behavior rather than accepting responsibility and apologizing, you become the poster child for everything wrong with tv journalism, and it's a shame your NBC colleagues have to be associated with this (expletive).

-----Original Message-----
From: David Shuster
To: Philippe Reines

Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:29 p.m.

No. That's not what I'm saying. And if you bothered to look at the transcript and saw all of the glowing things I said about chelsea and the way she was raised, you would know that.

The issue is not her making calls. As + said on the air, I have no problems with that what so ever. The issue is not her refusing interviews. The issue is that the campaign has come down hard on reporters who merely sought to ask chelsea questions. You can't have it both ways. Reporters have long respected the clintons desire that we avoid chelsea and let her have her space. But to get angry at reporters seeking to talk to her now is patently unfair. And you know that.

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Sent using BlackBerry

-----Original Message-----
From: Philippe Reines
To: David Shuster

Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 9:49 p.m.

I think we've each said what we have to say on this matter. Based on this email exchange, we're assuming two things:

1) You are not disputing that you said on air: "But doesn't it seem like she's being--but doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"

2) You have no intention of apologizing for the above.