This is the story of a liberal TV pundit and a conservative Internet pundit and their feud over a 25 year-old accused felon who likes to wear costumes. The first one--prickly MSNBC host David Shuster--has been going hard after James O'Keefe, recently arrested for breaking into a New Orleans Senator's office. He's also been pounding O'Keefe's patron, conservative editor Andrew Breitbart. O'Keefe, who in 2009 dressed as a pimp to expose ACORN, dressed as a telephone repairman this week. The costume was part of a plot to tamper with the phones in Senator Mary Landrieu's office. O'Keefe and Breitbart have been the subject of much mockery, but Shuster is taking a harder tack.
On Tuesday, Shuster tweeted to O'Keefe, "a) you are not a journalist b) the truth is you intended to tap her phones c) it's a felony d) you will go to prison." (MSNBC reprimanded Shuster for the tweet.) Later, Shuster had Breitbart himself on MSNBC to discuss the New Orleans break-in. It devolved quickly into an 8-minute shouting match:
Unsurprisingly, pundits were quick to declare total victory for their respective partisan in the fight. Politico's Ben Smith declared, "This is cable at its best." (Some, less inclined to watch screaming gasbags for fun, disagreed.)
Andrew Breitbart, concerned that the incident may not have been a "win" for him, rushed to mount an online offensive. In a lengthy post, "How David Shuster Lied to Get Me to Appear on MSNBC," Breitbart published the four-sentence email in which Shuster had invited Breitbart on MSNBC. Writing on his Blackberry, Shuster apparently told Breitbart, "I don't have a horse in this race." Breitbart counters that Shuster did too have a horse in the race. "As you see, Shuster is attempting to lure me into this story based upon the false premise of his objective neutrality."
Meanwhile, O'Keefe posted a defense--to Breitbart's site, naturally--going after MSNBC as well as other perpetrators of "journalistic malpractice." More on this very important story as it develops, which hopefully it won't.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.