Out of Bounds? NBC Newsman Suspended After Harsh Remark About Chelsea Clinton

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.



DAVID SHUSTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Doesn't it seem like Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Listen, if she didn't want to be there, she wouldn't be there. I mean, give Chelsea a break.


HANNITY: And that was NBC News correspondent David Shuster using very inappropriate slang to describe Chelsea Clinton's involvement in her mother's campaign.

Now, Hillary has responded by threatening to boycott any future NBC debates. And Shuster has been suspended and sidelined by the network.

So joining us now, the Media Research Center's Director of Media Analysis, Tim Graham.

Let's talk specifically here. You know, I found — I don't often agree with Howard Wolfson. But I found the comments, as he, you know, described them, as despicable, you know, inappropriate, out of touch, out of line.

But then the question becomes what should — what would happen if it was me? What would have happened if it was Rush or Levine or Boortz? What would the reaction have been?

TIM GRAHAM, MEDIA RESEARCH CENTER: It probably would have been worse. I would say this. I think somebody on the blogosphere today made a good point. And that is when you take a guy like David Shuster who's supposed to be a reporter and you put him in this cheeky pundit or anchor role and you sort of expect him to say cute things, this is bound to happen. It is unfortunate.

I would say this, however, Sean. Let me disagree with you just a tiny bit. And that is Chelsea Clinton now is 27 years old. She is not the 13-year-old that moved into the White House. And the problem that — we have a much greater problem in the United States today — that she's been treated...

HANNITY: But, Tim, to "pimp out" her daughter?

GRAHAM: Right.

HANNITY: You don't find that? You know what? She's a young lady. And by all accounts, I've got to be honest. She conducts herself with class. She seems like a nice kid. Leave the children of candidates alone. Leave them all alone, even if they're campaigning. I think it's out of bounds. Leave Chelsea alone. I don't think it's fair.

GRAHAM: Well, the younger you are, I guess the less you object. Maybe this — he should have made this comment on MTV News and we wouldn't have heard about it.

I'm simply saying that, in fact, Sean, The New York Times, for example, and other media outlets have reported on Chelsea and during this campaign cycle...

HANNITY: I understand that.

GRAHAM: ... with such an enduring tone they really treat her like "Saint Chelsea."

HANNITY: Let me ask you this —because we're running out of time. This is an important part of this question here, you know. Look, NBC News now, and he's a part of it, they have gone so far over to the MoveOn.org left wing. I mean, that's who they are. That's what they do. That's how they're making their living.

I understand it. I don't even have a problem with it, as long as the public is aware that they're not getting news. They're getting left-wing MoveOn.org style opinion.

But here's my point. You know what? I'm very concerned that any time somebody makes a mistake [now] they can't revise and extend their remarks. They can't really, sincerely apologize — make an apology. They can't try to make good without the groups coming in, threatening advertisers, trying to shut them down and trying to silence them.

And in that sense, NBC News ought to allow any anchor to make a mistake or two over the years, as long as it was a sincere mistake and they make the proper amends. And I think in that sense I don't want to see these people fired from making a mistake on the air, because they're going to go after all of us in the end. No one can make a mistake.

I'm not perfect. I've said dumb things. It may surprise you.


HANNITY: You know, I don't want to live in that environment. I don't think it's good.

COLMES: We only have a second here. Go ahead. Go ahead and respond.

GRAHAM: Well, there is a double standard. Keith Olbermann could come on and say that Bush is responsible for killing 3,500 Americans. Or remember when he called Chris Wallace a "monkey posing as a newscaster"? You know...

COLMES: Well, you want to change the debate here and make it about — about other people, or that you conservatives are the poor put-upon people. This was a knock at Chelsea Clinton by a reporter at a network you're claiming is left wing and part of the MoveOn.org crowd. And yet, it was a knock against the Clintons.

Wasn't it John McCain who also did a joke and said she was the daughter of Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton? Chelsea Clinton. And of course, he apologized for the joke.

These are the things that conservatives are doing, it seems, to knock the Clintons.

GRAHAM: Well, David is not a conservative. I mean, I don't think — everything that you've looked at David Shuster saying in the last five years since he joined MSNBC or whatever, not a conservative. I mean, this is a typical liberal journalist.

COLMES: Right. But the point is, this is not a plot to go after the Clintons. It's not the MoveOn.org crowd going after the Clintons. This is just a reckless statement that any one of us could make at any time in this business.

And Sean and I tend to agree on this kind of issue, where if you're in front of a microphone all the time, you know, something's probably going to slip out at some point for which you're going to have to say, "I'm sorry"...

GRAHAM: I'm simply saying I think we do have way too much sensitivity toward Chelsea Clinton. The New York Times, again, this piece that Jodi Kantor wrote last year. She sort of said people are so excited that her lips moved and sound came out. There is just too much worship there.

COLMES: ... is that what David Shuster says? You're going to defend his comments?

GRAHAM: No, I'm simply saying there's a hyper-sensitivity that we treat her like she's 13. I'm saying I'm agreeing with you. Why would you ban somebody for saying something like that, when you know, people in our public life...

COLMES: He should get his job back at some point. But Sean is right that this is — we shouldn't be going after the kids of candidates and the people in office.

Thank you very much, Tim, for being with us.

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