It was a dumb, inappropriate thing to say. But it's symptomatic of these cable networks turning hard-news reporters into pundits.
Non-pundit TV reporters tend to try too hard on pundit shows to be shocking or jokey and end up saying unfortunate things. Shuster is one of NBC's best reporters, but there he was trying to make with a zinger.
Shuster is nothing if not a precise illustration of a TV news reporter. That's what he is. I mean, watch his apology, for instance. He delivers it as if he's reporting on a congressional hearing on speech patterns used by American news correspondents. I was waiting for him to say at the end, "I'mmm David Shuuuuster. Apologizing... on MSNBC. [pregnant pause] Norah."
So. First. NBC... stop trying to transform your reporters into pundits. This is one of many dangerous sides to the cable news attack on objectivity. Reporters should only be asked to REPORT straight news. No opinion. No analysis. There are well-paid bobbles to, well, bobble.
Second, NBC is clearly offering up Shuster as a human sacrifice to the Clintons. Prior to Shuster's remarks, the tensions between MSNBC and the Clintons had been heating up anyway -- accusations from the Clintons that MSNBC is the Obama network and, naturally, Chris Matthews' baffling anti-Clinton statements. So MSNBC used -- pimped, if you will -- Shuster's bloody carcass to assuage the fury of the Clintons.
Josh Marshall wrote that "Matthews is untouchable -- and Shuster's easier to can or suspend." That's correct, sir. This was NBC apologizing to the Clintons for all of it. Sacrificing their best reporter for the good of establishing a detente with Team Clinton.
Meanwhile, will Senator Clinton back off her commitment to participate in a debate on FOX News -- a network where they don't suspend anyone for anything at any time no matter how awful the discourse and "jokes"?