MSNBC's David Shuster, who was suspended in 2008 for proclaiming that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by her then-candidate mother, on Monday challenged a representative of Free Republic as to what he would do to try and "discourage people" from using "hateful, vile language" on the website. Video available here.
Guest Kristinn Taylor, a spokesman for the Washington D.C. chapter of Free Republic, appeared on the show to battle with the MSNBC Live host over offensive comments that were posted on the site about 11-year old Malia Obama. Taylor combatively contradicted an assertion by Shuster that some racist remarks featured under a picture of the Obama daughter were reposted on the web page after initially being removed: "Well, David, unfortunately, it seems you've gotten your story from the Daily Kos, which is not a reliable source of information."
On February 7, 2008, while discussing the Democratic presidential primaries, Shuster derided the Hillary Clinton campaign, saying, "But doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?" Perhaps not thinking of his past comments, on Monday, he lectured Taylor: "Because, I think you would agree that all of us have a burden to not just say, 'Hey, this is wrong. This is despicable,' but, to try to discourage people from using such hateful, vile language, right?"
Earlier in the segment, Shuster absurdly challenged an assertion by Taylor that Sarah Palin also had to deal with hateful attacks. He spun, "I guarantee you, Kristinn, anybody who looks at that would see there's no comparison." Of course, many journalists weren't interested in hate comments on left-wing sites. And websites such as Daily Kos did promote theories such as whether or not Governor Palin truly was the mother of Trig Palin or if he was somehow daughter Bristol Palin's baby.
On Friday, Shuster hosted another segment attacking a conservative website, singling out the Drudge Report for speculating that a photo of Barack Obama showed him glancing at a young woman's posterior.
A transcript of the July 13 segment, which aired at 3:30pm EDT, follows:
DAVID SHUSTER: The political world, as you know, is filled with hundreds, if not thousands of websites and blogs where activists and the interested can register their feelings, thoughts and analysis. One of the most popular conservative blogs is called FreeRepublic.com. Thousands of people post comments on the site every day. Last week, this picture of 11-year-old Malia Obama was posted on the FreeRepublic.com and somebody thought it might be fun to have a captioning contest. What followed was, by any basic standard of decency, horrifying. Many of the comments were racist, vile, demeaning and sexist. Several, comments, which we will not repeat, used the most sickening of racial slurs. The hatred was removed from the site for a period of time and then, inexplicably, the comments were put back up. And the website itself became the talk of the internet this past weekend. Joining us is Kristinn Taylor, a spokesperson for FreeRepublic.com. Kristin, thanks for joining us. What happened?
KRISTINN TAYLOR (FreeRepublic.com): Well, David, unfortunately, it seems you've gotten your story from the Daily Kos, which is not a reliable source of information. Those comments that which you referenced, I think you exaggerated the vileness of some of them, I'm not defending them, but you said they were the worst of the worst and I'll differ on that.
SHUSTER: They were bad. But, here's the-
TAYLOR: But, the comments were pulled- But they were- they were bad and they shouldn't have been said and shouldn't have been said about an 11-year-old girl. But the story that those comments were pulled from the site and being restored with the approval of the site is not true. Those comments and the threads were pulled and stayed pulled. So, that's not true.
SHUSTER: Let's be clear- Let's be clear-
TAYLOR: Because, that's what the supposed reporter used for his rationale to make this a newsworthy story.
SHUSTER: I- Somebody put them back up and I'm not say that you did. But, here's the bottom line. I heard you're regretful this happened. Would you like to take the opportunity to apologize for these comments that ended up on Free Republic?
TAYLOR: No, they weren't put back on the blog. That's the thing. Jim Robinson has said he is not going to apologize for this. It was the individual poster who is responsible for the comments. We have standards. We fell short of those standards. But at least our side has standards. People on the left in the news media and Democratic Party, they have no standards. They spent the last 11 months trashing Sarah Palin with the most vile stuff you can imagine.
SHUSTER: Kristinn, nothing, nothing like this. I guarantee you, Kristinn, anybody who looks at that would see there's no comparison.
TAYLOR: And those people are still accepted in polite political company today, including the founder of Daily Kos, which started all of this.
TAYLOR: If those people have standards and Jim Robinson would be willing to apologize. But, we have standards and we're going to adhere to them. The other side doesn't have any standards. We know that.
SHUSTER: Well, let's be clear, Kristinn, there are things that get posted on websites that we contribute to that people, you can't control, necessarily, what people are going to write, but you can control what happens to that information. I guess the question is, given that you've said that you regret that it did not live up to your standards, what is your particular site going to do to try and dissuade people from doing this? Because, I think you would agree that all of us have a burden to not just say, "Hey, this is wrong. This is despicable," but, to try to discourage people from using such hateful, vile language, right?
TAYLOR: Right. And we have a system set up, a system that generally works well. Every once in a while, it's going to fall short because we're all human. Basically, we have volunteer moderators that monitor the site. They can't monitor every article and every comment that goes up, but we encourage our users to report comments or articles that are out of line, that violate our posting guidelines to the moderators. And they get addressed.