***Update: 7pm 2/9/08 MSNBC is airing a one hour documentary on Hillary Clinton. This is one hour of free advertising for the candidate, including interviews with friends and family. From Ben Smith’s Blog: This pre-empts the regularly scheduled programming, a show called Deadly Encounter. Not joking.***
You cannot have missed by now the scandal over at MSNBC. David Shuster, by all accounts a well respected and excellent political reporter, completely screwed up when he said that Chelsea Clinton was being “pimped out” by the Clinton campaign (see the video). Oh man, that was bad. That’s career ending stuff. He apologized, on air, twice. He’s been suspended indefinitely. Done.
Well, maybe not. It appears that MSNBC is going above and beyond on this one. They have so tipped the scales pro-Clinton in their political coverage in the last 24 hours that I question what, exactly, they’re afraid of? It makes me think of the deal over at GQ last summer when the Clinton campaign had a story killed in exchange for access to Bill. I actually can surmise what MSNBC is afraid of here. They have one of the two coveted Clinton v. Obama debates left. Hillary is so pissed over this Chelsea thing that she is threatening to pull out of the MSNBC debate.
So what’s MSNBC to do? I’ll tell you what they are doing: they’re giving Hillary all the free coverage she could want. Yesterday, they spent 20 minutes of air time covering a live rally. When it was Obama’s turn, they gave him 5. Today, on their politics front page, they have a nice large picture of a smiling Hillary. There are three stories on their popular “First Read” column: two on Clinton and one on McCain. Within their published collaborative article with the National Journal called “Whose coalition is bigger?,” regarding the current race between Obama and Clinton, there’s a sidebar on Bill Clinton. All of this at a time when, by all accounts, the Clinton campaign has been hurting for cash.
It appears that MSNBC is once again kneeling at the feet of the Clinton machine, as they did when they forced Chris Matthews to apologize on air for speaking the truth. MSNBC had seemed like the one news network left that at least pretended to give fair coverage in the political arena. I’m now reminded of the old rhyme, “… and then there were none.”