It's been all over the airwaves by now. In a discussion with guests about Chelsea Clinton's role in her mother Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster commented: "Doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?" Shuster has since apologized, and been suspended.
It's worth taking a moment to not only criticize the insensitivity of the remark, but also think about the atmosphere which allows and encourages it.
The Clinton's have been fair game for some time on issues of moral propriety, and the ground for this comment was laid years ago by Clinton-haters. This is the large grain truth in the commentary by Paul Krugman in the next post, when he refers to as the "Clinton rules" by which commentators are willing to say or believe most things about the Clintons because of who they are. The Clintons may or may not be guilty of various moral improprieties--that's a separate debate--but they've never been accused of being bad parents. Yet, demonization creates the conditions in which all manner of attack becomes licensed.
But there is more. Our media is obsessed with speed, cleverness, and ratings, so the commentators who survive as talking heads speak with great deliberation at their peril. Throw into the churning mix of rapid response and blather prejudices from years of Clinton bashing and it's not surprising such personal nastiness sometimes surfaces.
The medium isn't the message, but the medium encourages the sharp, quick, cutting, denigrating comment--ask Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh--and is partly responsible for the demonization in politics we witness today.
For a link to David Shuster's comments on You Tube go to Shuster's comment. And who's that laughing in the background?