Shuster Defends Attack on GOP for Using Phrase 'Harlem Democrat,' Silent on Luke Russert Doing Same Thing

MSNBC's David Shuster on Tuesday continued to attack the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) for the organization's reference to Charlie Rangel as a "Harlem Democrat." He reiterated, "I pointed out the NRCC did not call him a corrupt New York Democrat or just corrupt. Rather, a corrupt Harlem Democrat. And I asked a guest if this was racially tinged."

Shuster, however, was silent on the fact that MSNBC reporter Luke Russert basically did the same thing. Appearing on the March 3 edition of the Ed Show, he commented on Democrats who wanted to strip the controversial Rangel of his chairmanship.

Russert explained that these politicians are in "conservative districts, who really saw problems back home in their rural districts in the mountains being associated with a Harlem Democrat who writes the nation's tax laws who a lot of folks say is not paying their taxes." Does this mean that Luke Russert is using "racially tinged" language? Will Shuster call on his colleague to apologize? (Hat tip to Clay Waters of Times Watch for noting the Russert comment.)

Shuster recounted the E-mails he received slamming him for challenging the NRCC: "First of all, I didn't say the NRCC or the press release was racist. I asked a guest if it was racially tinged." So, Shuster wasn't calling Republicans racist, just wondering if they were racist-leaning?

Shuster first attacked the NRCC on Monday for releasing a press release on Rangel which used the supposedly controversial term. More on the original story can be found here.

A transcript of Shuster's comments, which aired at 3:55pm EST, follow:

DAVID SHUSTER: Finally, I received several complaints about a segment I did yesterday that touched on New York Democrat Charlie Rangel. During the segment, I reported on a press release by the National Republican Congressional Committee, or NRCC. It described Rangel twice as, quote, "a corrupt Harlem Democrat " I pointed out the NRCC did not call him a corrupt New York Democrat or just corrupt. Rather, a corrupt Harlem Democrat. And I asked a guest if this was racially tinged. Several of you e-mailed, "You blank-edy blank! Harlem is in Rangel's district? And how dare you say this was racist?" First of all, I didn't say the NRCC or the press release was racist. I asked a guest if it was racially tinged. Secondly, note the difference between the NRCC's treatment of Rangel and their approach towards other Democrats. An NRCC press release criticizing Representative Earl Pomery calls him a North Dakota Democrat, not a Bismarck Democrat. A press release criticizing Representative Michael McMahon calls him a New York Democrat, not a Staten Island Democrat. But, Rangel gets called a corrupt Harlem Democrat. I stand by my reporting on this and I stand by my questioning as to whether the press release by the National Republican Congressional Committee was racially tinged. I've asked officials at the NRCC to come on the show and respond. So far, they've refused. I'll keep you posted.

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