February 11, 2008
MSNBC suspended news anchor David Shuster after he said that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had “pimped out” daughter Chelsea by having her call Democratic superdelegates on her mother’s behalf. Shuster apologized for the on-air comment. Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said the remark was “beneath contempt,” and that there appeared to be a pattern of tasteless comments about the Clintons on MSNBC—anchor Chris Matthews also apologized recently for a comment about Clinton. (The Washington Post, free registration)
What the commentators said
Shuster made his point “tastelessly,” said Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone. “But c’mon.” It’s not like Chelsea is “13 anymore. She’s a couple weeks shy of her 28th birthday,” and doesn’t need “mama bear coming to her rescue.” Chelsea Clinton “has a masters from Oxford and has a fat career at a hedge fund.” She is her own woman, and any role she plays in her mom’s campaign is “certainly open for debate.”
Chelsea Clinton is clearly no longer the shy first daughter we once knew, said Arian Campo-Flores in Newsweek. She recently “emerged as one of Hillary's most potent surrogates.” In an attempt to bring young and women voters into her mother’s camp, she has gone beyond smiling and waving at the side of her mother, and has appeared at “a string of solo performances that sometimes resemble full-fledged rallies.” The once-silent member of the Clinton family now has a campaign schedule “nearly as grueling as her mother's.”
Shuster was singing “the right tune,” said Michael Shaw in The Huffington Post, “but hitting the way-wrong note.” Chelsea has supplanted Bill Clinton as “Team Clinton’s iconic figure and support system,” and “presents a fascinating picture” as “her mother’s mirror and break-away leader of a new MTV/co-ed insurgency.” Shuster was just dumb to let “the Clinton’s Chelsea-loaded ire toward the media” become the story.
The Clinton’s are right about the media bias, said Paul Krugman in The New York Times (free registration). And Shuster’s insult definitely fits the “broader patter.” Call it the “Clinton rules,” whereby “pundits and some news organizations treat any action or statement by the Clintons, no matter how innocuous, as proof of evil intent.”
"Shuster was totally wrong," said Hanna Rosin in Slate's The XX Factor blog. But, honestly, if Hillary is "tough" enough to "fight the right wing machine" she can handle this. And so can Chelsea. "This is just the Clintons, at home and alive again, in their happy role as the Most Aggrieved."
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