Clinton Camp Threatens to Boycott NBC Debates Because of Comments About Chelsea Being “Pimped Out”

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 8, 2008 2:09pm

On a conference call Friday afternoon, Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson suggested the campaign might boycott NBC debates given a "pattern" of comments made by MSNBC hosts.

Wolfson was referring to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, anchor of "Hardball," and David Shuster, a correspondent and fill-in anchor on the cable network.

Shuster on Thursday, suggesting it was "a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea’s out there calling up celebrities, saying support my mom, and she’s apparently also calling these super delegates," asked, "doesn’t it seem like Chelsea’s sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"

Wolfson called the comment "disgusting" and "beneath contempt…It’s the kind of thing that should never be said on a national news network."

He said that Clinton has participated in "a number of debates on that network. We had agreed yesterday to do a debate on that network. And I at this point can’t envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network given the comments that were made and have been made."

Referencing Matthews’ comments and subsequent on-air apology last month, Wolfson asked, "I think at some point you really have to question whether or not there is a pattern here at this particular network where you have comments being made and then apologies given."

On MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" Friday morning, Shuster called in and said "Last night I used a phrase, some slang about her efforts. I didn’t think that people would take it literally, but some people have, and to the extent that people feel I was being pejorative about the actions of Chelsea Clinton making these phone calls, to the extent that people feel I was being pejorative, I apologize for that. I should have seen people would see it that way. I’m sorry."

Wolfson said neither Chelsea nor Sen. Clinton had received an apology from Shuster.

Last month, Matthews apologized on air for, as he put it, "imply(ing) that Hillary’s whole career depended on being a victim of an unfaithful husband."

Wolfson said Matthews, as far as he knew, never personally apologized to Clinton either.

"Is this part of a pattern?" Wolfson asked about the comments. "Is there something that folks are encouraged to do or not do? I don’t know, but the comment was beneath contempt and I think any fair-minded person would see it that way."

Do you?

– jpt

UPDATE: NBC NEWS STATEMENT REGARDING CHELSEA CLINTON COMMENT:

"On Thursday’s ‘Tucker’ on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks."

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