NY Times falsely claimed "a letter signed by Mrs. Clinton call[ed] on MSNBC to fire" Shuster

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A New York Times article falsely asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign had "released a letter signed by Mrs. Clinton calling on MSNBC to fire a reporter who had made an off-color reference to her daughter." In fact, the letter did not "call[] on" NBC News president Steve Capus to fire the reporter, David Shuster; indeed, Clinton's letter did not seek any specific action against Shuster.

A March 1 New York Times article on press coverage of the Democratic presidential primary campaign falsely asserted that Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign had "released a letter signed by Mrs. Clinton calling on MSNBC to fire a reporter who had made an off-color reference to her daughter." In fact, the letter, released on February 9, did not "call[] on" NBC News president Steve Capus to fire the reporter -- David Shuster -- for his February 7 comment that the Clinton campaign had "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton. (Shuster apologized for the comment and was suspended by NBC News.) Indeed, Clinton's letter did not call on Capus to take any specific action against Shuster.

The following is Clinton's letter to Capus:

Dear Mr. Capus,

Thank you for your call yesterday. I wanted to send you this note to convey the depth of my feeling about David Shuster's comments.

I know that I am a public figure and that my daughter is playing a public role in my campaign. I am accustomed to criticism, certainly from MSNBC. I know that it goes with the territory.

However, I became Chelsea's mother long before I ran for any office and I will always be a mom first and a public official second.

Nothing justifies the kind of debasing language that David Shuster used and no temporary suspension or half hearted apology is sufficient.

I would urge you to look at the pattern of behavior on your network that seems to repeatedly lead to this sort of degrading language.

There's a lot at stake for our country in this election. Surely, you can do your jobs as journalists and commentators and still keep the discourse civil and appropriate.

Sincerely,

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Further, in a February 11 interview televised on WJLA in Washington, D.C., Clinton declined to call for Shuster's firing in response to a direct question. Politico editor-in-chief John Harris asked Clinton during the interview, "Two-week suspension, you said that's inadequate for what was said. What would be adequate? Are you looking for a firing or something more?" Clinton responded: "That's not my job, John. You know, that's the job of the people who run the network. But I think that they need to take a hard look." She continued: "This is like the third time they've had to apologize. And there are a lot of things that they haven't had to apologize for that might have merited one. So I wish they would take a look at, you know, some of the pattern of demeaning comments that are made on their networks."

From the March 1 New York Times article, headlined "On the Press Bus, Some Questions Over Favoritism":

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign, which only a few weeks ago released a letter signed by Mrs. Clinton calling on MSNBC to fire a reporter who had made an off-color reference to her daughter, Chelsea, provided a letter to The Huffington Post this week taking issue with The Times. The letter, signed by 503 staff members and volunteers, disputed the central point in an article on Sunday's front page: that the campaign was rapidly losing hope.

At the same time, as Mr. Obama racked up a string of victories in recent weeks, Mrs. Clinton has begun appearing more frequently in the press section of her plane for on-the-record conversations. On Valentine's Day, she wandered back to call the girlfriends of several journalists, to apologize for keeping them on the campaign trail.

But to some reporters, those attempts at making nice have come late.

"Part of it is her campaign's fault," Andrea Mitchell, the longtime NBC political correspondent, said backstage at the MSNBC debate in Cleveland in Tuesday. "They started with this notion of inevitability. And they were very arrogant."

Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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