Shuster to Return to MSNBC Prior to Democratic Debate in Ohio

David Shuster, who made the unfortunate “pimped out” comment about Chelsea Clinton, will return to MSNBC Feb. 22, four days before the network’s Democratic debate in Ohio.

The Clinton campaign had threatened to boycott the debate, but with Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) feeling the heat from now-front-runner Barack Obama (Ill.), Clinton needs the exposure the debate will generate as much as, if not more than, MSNBC does.

The suspension for Shuster -- who made the comments Feb. 7 while guest-hosting Tucker Carlson’s show -- will amount to two weeks. He was seen briefly on the air on Feb. 8 to apologize for his remark.

NBC News has been the target of a healthy amount of criticism this political season from traditional media pundits, as well as those in the blogosphere.

Media Matters, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that monitors U.S. media, has kept a running tally on what the watchdog group perceives as Chris Matthews’ misogynist commentary about Hillary Clinton. In January, Matthews -- a former aid to Democratic luminaries including Tip O’Neill and a speechwriter in the Carter administration -- was compelled to apologize for linking Hillary Clinton’s political success to public sympathy for her husband’s philandering.

“There are few people in the country who [care] about politics as much as Chris Matthews,” said Steve Capus, president of NBC News, adding that when Matthews and Shuster “crossed a line,” the network “acted immediately.”

Still, the intensity of the blogosphere and the dramatic nature of the 2008 presidential campaign have combined to put cable news under a microscope.

“Everybody is under immense and immediate scrutiny,” Capus said, “and in some cases by those who are objective and in some cases by those who are not so objective. I don’t give them any more importance than they deserve.”

Cable news, he continued, “is something that is built on energy and being provocative and pushing the limits at times. People know that when they tune in to Matthews, they're going to get real conversations and sometimes provocative conversations that get to the heart of political matters."