MSNBC’s Live With Dan Abrams may not be a house on fire ratings-wise (Hannity & Colmes almost quadrupled it last night among all viewers, and it has about half of Larry King’s audience), but they’re still flailing away against the Fox News Channel after Keith Olbermann’s retired for the night. On Thursday night, MSNBC reporter David Shuster accused Mitt Romney of "insanity" and spewed at Fox News star Bill O’Reilly as a "buffoon and a jerk" within about one minute. The topic was AP reporter Glen Johnson angrily accusing Mitt Romney of lying, and Abrams showed footage of Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom telling Johnson to be a professional and don’t be argumentative with the candidate. Shuster erupted in outrage:
DAVID SHUSTER: Don't be argumentative with the candidate? Don't be argumentative? What does Mitt Romney think is going to happen to him when he's president? Are all the world leaders going to be nice and respectful? If he and his campaign have a problem with reporters being rude, what does he think is going to happen when he's sitting in the Oval Office? It's insanity.
DAN ABRAMS: Is this happening a lot on the trail? Is this happening a lot?
SHUSTER: It's happening, on occasion, but I would draw a distinction, Dan, between a reporter who knows what he's talking about, like the reporter today, and a buffoon and jerk like Bill O'Reilly, who pushed over, who tried to push over a guy to try to get out of the way at Barack Obama, and then, what does he ask Barack Obama? Is it some insightful, hard, penetrating question? No! He says: ‘will you be on my show?' That is where you can draw the line. If the reporter is lazy and is silly and is aggressive, that's a problem. When a reporter knows what he's talking about, I have no problem whatsoever with that.
The segment was an ideologically monotone debate between Shuster and liberal Huffington Post blogger Rachel Sklar, who maintained Glen Johnson was unnecessarily rude. (Imagine that, the Huffington Post being against rudeness. See the MRC Special Report on that record.) But Shuster's blast at O'Reilly came out of nowhere. It had not been discussed earlier in the segment.
As for O'Reilly's lunge to snag Obama for his show (a chance slimmer than the most anorexic runway model), isn't it hard for a journalist to be both lazy AND aggressive at the same time? You can't compare a host like O'Reilly to a street reporter like Shuster or a David Gregory. He's trying to book a guest, not interview them on the spot. That's not lazy. It's trying to save the fireworks for the studio. And Shuster definitely brought the fireworks for his MSNBC bosses when it came to slamming FNC -- his former employers.