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Months before Markos Moulitsas was banned from appearing on MSNBC, or Keith Olbermann was put on "indefinite unpaid suspension," or Joe Scarborough was treated to a couple of extra Thanksgiving week days off dutifully "suspended without pay" for his own campaign donations, a small blurb appeared in The New York Observer:

Inside the CNN Stockroom: Network Recently Shot Pilot Starring MSNBC's Shuster and NPR's Martin

By Felix Gillette
April 2, 2010 | 8:48 a.m.
Recently, according to CNN sources, the network's in-house team shot a pilot for a news show featuring David Shuster of MSNBC and Michel Martin of NPR as co-anchors.
Reached on Wednesday night, Ms. Martin declined to comment. Ditto Mr. Shuster. Ditto CNN.

That it even merited a blurb may have been evidence of an especially slow news day at 8:48 A.M. EST that day, but by 2:26 P.M, all hell had broken loose, at least for David Shuster and the wags in the DC media circuit.

more over the fold...

April 2, 2010, 2:26 pm
Shuster’s CNN Dalliance May Bring MSNBC Response

David Shuster, an anchor on MSNBC, recently participated in a test of a new show. But not for his own network.

MSNBC executives were highly displeased when they learned about his test for the competing news channel CNN through a New York Observer article Friday morning, and they are now contemplating their response.

"If true, this is unacceptable and David will be punished appropriately," an MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, said Friday afternoon.

      [emphasis mine]

I found the words "will be punished" to be curiously draconian in tone,  but this would not be Shuster's first suspension, if that was to be the verdict.  Maybe they'd just fire him and let him move on to CNN, or someplace where he was more appreciated, I thought.

In case anyone's forgotten what there was to appreciate about David Shuster, here's one example, out of many.  
In this segment, Shuster grills PUMAs with special sauce.

What I was not expecting to see was a petulant President of MSNBC, Phil Griffin, viciously attempt to destroy the career of an emmy award winning journalist by slandering and effectively binding and silencing him.

Like any old fart with too much time on his hands, I, of course, sprang into action by starting a PhaseBook Group in search of like-minded outraged news junkies.  We called it Punish David Shuster With His Own Show! and we started documenting and agitating for our "cause."

At the time, I had about 4 friends on PhaseBook, and didn't even know how to navigate it.  I checked out David Shuster's suddenly dormant page, and was stunned when, within moments, he accepted my "friend" request.  

Phil Griffin inadvertently gave our fledgling group a boost when he responded via email to an irate Shuster supporter that David was not "Moral, Ethical, or Professional."  We were able to get our virtual hands on the email and had the recipient validate it for other media outlets.

We started an online petition and sent a hard copy of it to Griffin, who rejected it and it was returned unopened.

There were a couple of diaries here, but there seemed little interest in rocking the boat at the cable home of progressive stalwarts like Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann before Markos was banned and KO himself was unfairly suspended.

Meanwhile, the right wing blogs and media piled on, as Griffin left Shuster twisting in the wind.

David Shuster himself used his down time to return to school to complete his masters in public policy, attend to pressing personal issues, and work on developing new venues for his return to broadcast journalism.
Late Monday night David Shuster was finally able to break his long silence and tweeted:

Tonight marks his return to broadcasting to substitute host the Jim Bohannan Show, which will be streamed live, here between 10:00p.m. and 1:00a.m. EST.
And NO!  Jim Bohannan will not be there, only David, to take your calls.
Considering how long David has been muzzled, I'm perfectly willing to allow that even Jim Bohannan's show looks "terrific" about now.  To the best of my knowledge, he is still not able to return to cable news until after his MSNBC contract expires Dec. 31st.

The ever gracious Shuster was kind enough to take a few questions from me in advance, via email, to share with the DKos community.

sgary:  You are highly regarded by many for your assertive interviewing style and as someone who has usually done his homework.  Will you be able to bring any of that to bear in your new, as yet unannounced  mystery job?
DS:  You are very kind.  The new venture will definitely reflect an "assertive" and "well prepared/researched" approach.  I know that it can seem impolite to point out a lawmaker's hypocrisy or interrupt him/her when they mislead on the facts.  But, that's my style...and it will be reflected in the journalism I'm responsible for in 2011.  

sgary:  You've aggressively engaged some of the subjects of your stories, and had sharp exchanges via Twitter, FB, etc.  You obviously had to walk a thin line while the MSNBC situation played itself out.  What was that like for you personally?
DS:  When newsmakers are using social media to communicate and won't return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment on a story, it's appropriate to use social media to try and reach them.  I always start with a phone call or e-mail... and reaching a newsmaker privately is my preference.  But social media is one of the items in the toolbox.  Furthermore, twitter is a great way to draw attention to stories and videos.  As for MSNBC's view, I respected management's wishes and didn't take it personally.  

sgary:    Is the DC press corp cliquish, and do you think that inhibits fearless journalism?
DS:  Every group has it's cliques, including the DC press corps.  I think the larger challenge involves the sometimes delicate balancing act between getting "access" to newsmakers and holding these officials' feet to the fire.  Many journalists in DC are most concerned about staying competitive on the day to day non investigative news and/or fear the possibility of losing a high profile interview to a competing organization.   It's an institutional problem in DC...but it isn't insurmountable.    

sgary:  What is your take on the state of cable news today and what do you see as the future of investigative journalism ?
DS:  Cable news can be fun and entertaining.  But the future of investigative journalism belongs with agressive gum shoe reporters who can spend time developing sources, cultivating contacts, chasing down leads, examining documents, and etc.  That's generally not the business model for cable news.  And yet credible investigative reporting, even if it starts on the net, can have a ricochet effect and quickly influence the analysis and content of broadcast and cable news.  

sgary: Are there any specific important stories out there that you think are not being covered adequately?  
DS:  Karl Rove's connection to influence/money on the political right has intrigued me. But, the links between money and politics in general could use some more coverage.  

 Do you know who outted you for your CNN pilot?
DS:  I have no idea.  All I know is that the story in the NY Observer said "CNN Sources."  All things happen for a reason, though...and the incredible opportunity I have in 2011 might not have been there if hadn't been for my path in 2010.  So I don't harbor any bitterness, regret, or ill feelings.      

sgary:  You have said your new venture will "have a huge impact on political journalism."  Can you elaborate?
DS:  I can't elaborate just yet... but when people see what we roll out, I think it will be clear.  So, stay tuned!  

I definitely will stay tuned, because Shuster assures me the new project will be of major interest to progressive news junkies like myself.

You can ask David Shuster your own questions between 10 p.m.-1 a.m. by calling him live on air at 1-866-505-4626.

Originally posted to sgary on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 03:30 AM PST.

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