Now, MSNBC has suspended him, after pressure from the Clinton campaign:
Behind the scenes, Phil Griffin, senior vice president at MSNBC, took the criticism over Shuster's remarks from the Clinton camp especially seriously, and Tim Russert helped mediate the situation, according to sources.Really, how bad is it to say "pimped out"? Is it "nappy-headed hos" bad? Did anyone think Shuster was literally calling Chelsea a whore or even making any reference to her womanly virtue? "Pimped out" is a common colloquialism these days. According to the Urban Dictionary, which gives a good read on how young people use words, the connotations having to do with exaggerated fashion and style predominate.
But one high-level NBC source told Politico that apologizing was an act of cowardice on behalf of the network.
"This is at least the second time they've caved to the Hillary Clinton campaign," a source told Politico, referring to Chris Matthews' recent apology over remarks he recently made about Clinton that were widely denounced as sexist. "What does this do to journalism?"
Even if the clear associations with prostitution remain, we often make figurative references to prostitution in speech, and the cause of feminism is not served by requiring special limitations when we're talking about women. We ought to be able to call a female publicity hound a "media whore."
I've never watched "Tucker," the show Shuster was guest-hosting when he made the supposedly offensive remark, but if the conversation there is casual and slang is the norm, then saying "pimped out" about Chelsea should be taken in stride. Otherwise it looks as though NBC caved to the Clintons.
ADDED: Ugh! Here's Shuster groveling:
"All Americans should be proud of Chelsea Clinton"? Why? Because, sublimely privileged, she went to work for a hedge fund? And, generally, why should anyone be "proud of" someone else's children? Plus, Chelsea isn't a kid anymore! I think saying "All Americans should be proud of Chelsea Clinton" is offensive. Please fire David Shuster.
AND: Out in the real world today, I had an encounter with the word "pimp." Plus, the dominant meaning of the word today — relating to style — may be the original meaning, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
1607, perhaps from M.Fr. pimper "to dress elegantly" (16c.), prp. of pimpant "alluring in dress, seductive." Weekley suggests M.Fr. pimpreneau, defined in Cotgrave (1611) as "a knave, rascall, varlet, scoundrell." The word also means "informer, stool pigeon" in Australia and New Zealand and in S.Africa, where by early 1960s it existed in Swahili form impimpsi. The verb is attested from 1636. Pimpmobile first recorded 1973.
MORE: The Moderate Voice has a big roundup of the commentary, which does not just break down along partisan lines. For example, Jane Hamsher said:
It may surprise everyone but I actually wasn't bothered by [what Shuster said]. The phrase is ubiquitous, I use it all the time and although it is a loaded term my initial impression was that in the wake of all the truly awful sexist stuff that's come down the pipeline from MSNBC over the course of this campaign, much of which I have personally railed about, this just didn't fall into that category.And if anyone thinks my comment here is partisan, remember that I just defended Randi Rhodes (and I've been arguing the free speech side of nearly every dispute over the 4-year life of this blog).
At first I thought it might be because I know Shuster and don't think he has the women's issues that many on MSNBC seem to have, and maybe that was affecting my assessment of the situation. But I wrote a post recently about Ben Affleck appearing at a press conference for the SEIU in Boston, and shortly after it went live someone involved in helping me put together the story sent me an email wondering what the hell I was thinking linking to a headline that said something on the order of "Boston Mayor Pimps For Healthcare Workers." I wasn't sure what they were upset about either at the time, but after a moment I realized that the term probably didn't strike others as being as inert as it did me so I changed the link.
I understand that this situation is different, we're talking about a young woman and Hillary Clinton has been on the receiving end of a lot of really misogynistic and disrespectful shit from MSNBC and that on the heels of that, a comment which overtly compared her daughter to a prostitute probably did not sit too well. Still, if you asked me, I'd say that while I certainly understand that others might feel differently, for me this was a minor infraction.