Monday, February 11, 2008

Pimped Out

NBC's David Shuster is cooling his heels at home, after being placed on an "indefinite suspension" by the network last week. Mr. Shuster, of course, is the MSNBC anchor who wondered if Chelsea Clinton is being "pimped out in a weird sort of way" by her mother's presidential campaign. The Clinton's daughter has become an active campaigner in recent weeks, stumping for her mother at colleges and other venues.

At best, Mr. Shuster's choice of words was unfortunate. But, as Chickaboomer and Extreme Mortman remind us, he is not the first MSNBC host to use the term in connection with a public figure. Flash back to last September 20, 2007. The anchor was the odious Keith Olberman, and here's what he said about President Bush and our commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus:

“And in pimping General David Petraeus and in the violation of everything this country has been assiduously and vigilantly against for 220 years, you have tried to blur the gleaming radioactive demarcation between the military and the political, and to portray your party as the one associated with the military, and your opponents as the ones somehow antithetical to it.”

As we recall, Mr. Olberman was never criticized--let alone suspended--for his remarks about Mr. Bush and General Petraeus.

A rather obvious double-standard, right? Well, the suits at NBC News would certainly disagree. Actually, no one bothered to ask them about Olberman's remarks, but their response would have gone something like this: General Petraeus is a public figure, and you could argue that he was being used to shill for an unpopular war. "Pimped out," to put it crudely.

But that sort of logic ignores a couple of realities. First of all, no public figure--male or female, career military officer or candidate's daughter--deserves to be referred to in such derogatory terms. Secondly, anyone familiar with Petraeus's career (and testimony) understands that the general would never allow himself to be "pimped" for any cause, including a military campaign.

Finally, there's the old-fashioned notion that General Petraeus deserves the same courtesy and respect being afforded to Chelsea Clinton. By that standard, David Shuster isn't the only MSNBC anchor who should apologize--or serve a suspension. But, because Olberman aimed his noxious comment at an "acceptable" target--one of the nation's senior military officers--the remark is somehow permissible.

Hillary Clinton is righly upset about the remark aimed at her daughter. But funny, she had no problem with Olberman's similar crack about General Petraeus. Oh, that's right...we seem to recall that Mrs. Clinton took her own little digs at the general around that time. Something about the need to "suspend belief" to accept his testimony. Compared to calling someone a liar, digs about being "pimped out" are minor, indeed.

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