MSNBC's David Shuster Hits Obama From the Left on Gays in the Military

MSNBC host David Shuster on Wednesday criticized President Obama from the left, calling him hypocritical for leaving the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in place, despite a campaign pledge to end the ban on gays in the military. Shuster singled out Obama in his "Hypocrisy Watch" series, complaining, "But, here we are, more than four months into your administration and the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy remains in place." Referencing a gay soldier who was forced out, he derided, "To continue to kick out soldiers like Daniel Choi, to continue 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' four months into your presidency, that's hypocrisy and it's wrong."

Shuster's targets on "Hypocrisy Watch" are mostly conservatives and Republicans. But, going after a Democrat for not being liberal enough isn't balance. An April 6 MRC fax report found that the MSNBC host, on his now defunct program "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," singled out politicians on the right 71 percent of the time. When he did go after liberals, such as Barack Obama, it was usually from the left:

Shuster did target President Obama on January 30 for putting lobbyists into his government after pledging the opposite as a candidate, and again on March 17 and 30 for failing to be tough enough on business, a routine complaint from the left-wing blogosphere. But conservative complaints about the Obama administration — such as dishonestly claiming $1.6 trillion in Iraq war savings over the next decade by using the troop surge as a baseline — were utterly ignored.

On June 1 and 2, Shuster slammed Newt Gingrich and former Vice President Dick Cheney in the "Hypocrisy Watch" segment. And neither of them were criticized for failing to be conservative enough.

A transcript of the June 3 "MSNBC News Live" segment, which aired at 4:48pm, follows:

DAVID SHUSTER: The Obama administration continues to enforce the policy towards gay service members known as "Don't ask, Don't Tell." And that takes us to tonight's "Hypocrisy Watch." First the background. During his presidential campaign, then-candidate Obama repeatedly spoke about the important contributions of all soldiers who are willing to serve. And he vowed to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once he entered office. He told the Military Times, quote, "I think that at a time when we are pressed, we should have an attitude of all hands on deck. If we can't field enough Arab linguists, we shouldn't be preventing an Arab linguist from serving his or her country because of what they do in private. I think retired Army General John Shalikashvili's assessment is right, that people's attitudes have evolved. You've got our British counterparts and Israeli counterparts without this policy, and nobody would suggest that they have had problems on the ground." That's true, Mr. President. The Brits and the Israelis have not had problems on the ground. And listen to what your own press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said during a web chat with ordinary Americans just a few days before your administration took office.

ROBERT GIBBS: Thaddeus from Lancing, Michigan asks, "Is the new administration going to get rid of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy?' Thaddeus, you don't hear a politician give a one word answer much, but it's yes.

SHUSTER: And it was perfectly clear, Mr. President, you promised on the campaign to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and your spokesman said that you would keep the promise. But, here we are, more than four months into your administration and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy remains in place. And since you took office, more than 200 members of the military have been discharged simply because they told the truth about their sexual orientation. That's right, more than 200 servicemen, including Arabic translator, Lieutenant Daniel Choi.

DANIEL CHOI: The letter that came to me basically said that your honesty, your honesty about who you are is grounds enough to kick you out. We're in a time of war. You have skills that can be useful for your team. Doesn't matter.

SHUSTER: Earlier this week, Mr. President, your White House issue a proclamation for LGBT Pride Month. You noted your administration has worked to advance a wide range of initiatives, including ending the "existing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in a way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security." Note the caveat, "in a way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security." Does it mean that getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," as you promised, would weaken our armed forces? Mr. President, there's nothing wrong with wanting to study the issue or wanting to consult your military advisors. But, that's not what you promoted during the campaign. As you said back then, "We are in a time of war. We need all hands on deck. We need Arabic linguists." To continue to kick out soldiers like Daniel Choi, to continue "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" four months into your presidency, that's hypocrisy and it's wrong.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org