Was David Shuster Very Close to Getting Fired Over Chelsea?

Here's more buzz about how much trouble Newsbusters eagle eye Mark Finkelstein has caused for MSNBC's David Shuster. (He was first on this, people.) Through the Inside Cable News blog, we see the blog Big Head DC reports buzz that bosses at MSNBC threatened to fire David Shuster "on the spot" when he didn't immediately pound his chest and ask for forgiveness for suggesting Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by her mother:

Big Head DC has learned from sources inside the MSNBC camp that Phil Griffin, senior vice president at the network, “screamed” at reporter David Shuster for not agreeing to immediately apologize to Chelsea Clinton for saying on-air she had been “pimped out” by her mom’s campaign. Griffin threatened to fire Shuster “on the spot,” and it was only with intervention from Tim Russert that Shuster didn’t lose his position.

Meanwhile, Chris Matthews, Hardball anchor and a longtime ally of Shuster, has told acquaintances that he “wishes he could do more” to aid Shuster, but Matthews is already in deep trouble with network bigwigs for making several sexist remarks about Sen. Hillary Clinton. Matthews would like to be vocally supporting Shuster in this situation, but he’s worried that he could lose his current role of anchoring political events on the network, if he does not appear to stay neutral.

Still, that concern hasn’t stopped Matthews from making unattributed quotes to some news outlets, according to our sources.

On another note in this unfolding drama, Big Head DC has learned that Julianna Goldman, wife of Shuster, is “distraught and angry” at MSNBC for the way the network has treated her husband. Goldman, a rising star at Bloomberg News, may be trying to secure a position for Shuster with her bosses at her network.

The real task here in evaluating MSNBC's dramatic overreaction to a rude and sleazy throw-away remark is whether it's out of corporate fear that the Clintons won't grant access, or out of political anger at anyone tarring the legacy of the Clintons. This line in the Shuster apology underlines everything that's wrong in Chelsea coverage, the way that she is relentlessly used to offer hosannas to Bill Clinton as a parent (such a role model), not to mention her mother's willingness to stay in the marriage, hmm, perhaps in part due to her career aspirations:

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."

(Hat tip to Thomas Stewart)

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