As NewsBusters has been reporting, MSNBC's reaction to David Shuster's "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton comment is an extraordinary example of the double standard that exists at this admittedly left-leaning cable network.
In fact, the goings-on since Shuster first made this remark last Thursday make it crystal clear that potentially insensitive comments directed at the Clinton family are thoroughly verboten by MSNBC, whereas derogatory statements concerning President George W. Bush are highly encouraged.
As another example of this hypocrisy, consider the following disgraceful report concerning Bush's twin daughters aired on MSNBC's "Countdown" November 28, 2006 (h/t NBer Grammy):
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: It‘s rare when the world of politics and the world of entertainment fit together as neatly as they do in our number one story in the COUNTDOWN tonight. A tale of two pairs of girls, all of them in their mid 20‘s, all of them famous, all of them providing rich fodder for the tabloids with their latest exploits. In a moment the phenomenon of Paris Hilton and her new sidekick, Britney Spears.
But first Jenna and Barbara Bush. They have regained their party girl crowns thanks to reports from their 25th birthday celebrations in Argentina this weekend. After reports of lack security, a media frenzy and at least one lurid tale in the Argentine papers about the girls running naked down a hallway of their hotel, denied fervently by that hotel, by the way, ABC News reported the situation was so bad that the U.S. embassy asked the girls to leave, which the embassy fervently denies, by the way.
But even though the twins were meant to stay in Buenos Aires until Thursday, according to ABC News at least one, Barbara, is already back in the U.S. and that report, very flimsily backed up by the website Galkers Tip Line For Celebrity Spotting, GalkerStalker, which reports that Ms. Bush was seen with an unnamed man eating Oysters in the west village of New York City last night. No word on whether Jenna Bush is likewise cutting her holiday short or having oysters.
Perhaps she is heading to southern California where the ultimate party girls are now hanging out. Somehow, since she announced her impending divorce from Kevin Federline, Britney Spears has become B.F.F. with Paris Hilton, and yes, with the less hip, that is short hand for Best Friends Forever, they tell me. Hilton and Spears have been inseparable for weeks now, spotted at trendy nightclubs in Vegas and L.A., drinking, smoking, staying out all nigh, and apparently even making peace with Hilton‘s nemesis, the actress Lindsay Lohan.
Paris Hilton‘s P.R. guy says that the whole-what would the couple name here be? Parispears, Britris, anyway, he says, the friendship is real, telling the website TMZ.com that the two are like sisters and that Spears is extremely grateful for Hilton‘s friendship, that she considers the heiress to be a role model, which might explain Ms. Spears‘ new wardrobe, extreme cleavage, short skirts, underwear optional.
On that note, who better to analyze this strange confluence of girls behaving badly than television personality and author of "All the President‘s Pets," Mo Rocca. Good evening Mo, thanks for your time.
MO ROCCA, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: Good evening Keith, thank you.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll get to the new BFFs in a moment, but let‘s start with the first twins and this rampage through Argentina. You have met the Bush daughters and you know your White Houses. Are these the kind of women who would do things like run around in a hotel naked?
ROCCA: No, certainly not. Look, we have to remember the expression running around in a hotel naked in Argentina is an example of magical realism, a technique that‘s common in Argentinean literature and journalism. The translation here is they were running around topless. It is simply that. The same press account said that Jenna, the blonde one, was so beautiful that she exploded into flames of fire. Now, granted they were drinking a lot, so they were highly flammable perhaps, but this is hyperbole.
OLBERMANN: The embassy, the U.S. embassy has denied that anybody asked the twins to leave Argentina, but given that Barbara Bush has already been spotted back in the U.S., does that mean someone pulled the rug out from under the party? I mean, if not the Secret Service, then maybe their dad. Or is he blaming their behavior on al Qaeda in Iraq, or what?
ROCCA: Well, no, it‘s true that Barbara, the brunette, has already been extradited. So once Jenna comes home the pullout from Argentina will be complete. The president is blaming, actually, Argentina‘s Democracy, because the former Peron regime, of course, was much more red-state friendly. They would have embraced the Bush twins and not let them go home, actually. You know, I would say that-let me also clarify that this sighting you‘re talking about on Galker, it did say, and I have it right here, that Barbara Bush was sucking down oysters and making out with some guy. This is actually in reference to former first lady Barbara Bush. Right, and we should remember that oysters, of course, are an aphrodisiac, especially after a couple of vodka stingers.
OLBERMANN: I don‘t have anything to say after that. No, in touch with Argentina, do we get the Falklands. Is there any kind of trade here?
ROCCA: Perhaps that would be great, I love that. That‘s great.
Argentina has great food. We should all make a trip down there.
OLBERMANN: One more on this thing here. Is the solution for the White House in dealing with the P.R. fallout from the first daughters‘ antics, keep them in Crawford until January of 2009?
ROCCA: Well, I have one recommendation, a one word recommendation, Broadway. As you said, I have met the Bush twins. They are both actually very, very nice. The blonde one, Jenna, is bubbly. She has an easy laugh. The brunette, Barbara, is a little bit more serious, a little bit brooding, I would say. And so it occurred to me that they would be great in a Broadway production of Wicked, the two of them together.
Jenna as the blond, sort of the good witch Glinda (ph), and Barbara as the brooding Elphaba (ph), who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, but of course is not all bad. Because they have very, very complicated lives. And it‘s a very popular musical, so it would run forever, and it would keep them out of trouble, except on Monday‘s when the theater‘s dark and then they could go ballistic, go nuts.
OLBERMANN: There is a tradeoff for the matinees on the weekends.
I ask you: If David Shuster suggesting that Hillary's campaign is pimping out Chelsea is so offensive that he should be suspended, how can this report by Olbermann not have met with similar disdain from the top brass at MSNBC and NBC?
Before you answer, this was NBC News President Steve Capus's official statement concerning the Shuster/Chelsea matter:
On Thursday's "Tucker" on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks.
Consider that what was supposedly "irresponsible and inappropriate" of Shuster was "insulting" a family member of the former president.
Well, shouldn't it be just as irresponsible and inappropriate to insult a family member of the current president?
Or, is that okay if the current president is a Republican?
Audio file also available here (2:27 | 1.12 MB)