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The Shuster Interview

November 5, 2010

In light of MSNBC's decision to suspend Keith Olbermann indefinitely for donating to three Congressional campaigns, we thought it would be timely to release excerpts of Hotline's Friday Feature with the last personality at the network to get similar treatment, David Shuster.

Q: First, MSNBC has publicly said your contract ends in December. What are your future plans?

I'm confident MSNBC and I will have an amicable conversation at some point about my future and theirs. Beyond that, I am not going to talk right now about what's ahead.

Q: Are you upset with how MSNBC handled your situation?

Not in the least. I harbor no resentment or ill will towards MSNBC.

Q: Where's your hometown? And what was it like growing up there?

I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. My parents were on faculty at Indiana University and our family lived about a mile from campus. Bloomington is one of the most beautiful college towns in America. Furthermore, the environment provided an amazing array of family friendly experiences - whether it was watching National championship basketball teams, attending performances at IU's world renown school of music, or growing up with kids from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Furthermore, Bloomington - like most college towns -- is not exactly a "materialistic" place. The priorities instead were knowledge, kindness, and friendship. And to this day, I thank my lucky stars to have grown up in that environment.

Q: What were you like in high school?

I was kind, outgoing, respectful of parents/teachers, and never stayed out very late. So, I was the sort of teenager that adults liked but who felt a bit lost on occasion around some of my peers. Still, I lettered in tennis and swimming, made all-state as a musician, got good grades, and had a tight knit group of friends in the National Honor Society/Athlete/Band geek crowd.

Q: What is the most memorable critique/commentary received by a superior?

The encouragement has always been more memorable to me than the criticism. I'll never forget the bear hugs from Rick Kaplan when he was MSNBC President, especially at a political convention in 2004. Rick came up with a brilliant story idea that was difficult to pull off. And I wasn't sure if he would like the final product. Furthermore, my piece aired as Rick and then NBC CEO Bob Wright were watching on a monitor a few feet from me. Thankfully, they both loved the piece. And Rick's bear hug that day was relieving, to say the least. More recently, last January I anchored MSNBC's coverage of the final Congressional votes for health care reform. It involved doing seven hours without a teleprompter. Towards the end, NBC News President Steve Capus sent me a gracious note complimenting me for how I quarterbacked the coverage. Whenever a Broadcast News division President says you've done well in that kind of high profile high wire situation, it's memorable and then some.

Q: What's your best experience at a job interview? Worst?

My best experience was with Chris Matthews as I was interviewing to be his Hardball correspondent in 2002. He was as gracious, kind, and enthusiastic as anybody I had ever met in TV news. And he still is. I can't think of a "bad" job interview experience... So, I'll pass on that.

Q: If you could have one super power to aid you in your job, what would it be?

The ability to hear any person's unique voice in real time, even if they are behind walls or in another part of the city, would be a fun boost to my reporting efforts. So, I would vote for "super hearing."

Q: Finish this sentence: Today I...

Today I hung out with some of my graduate school friends, laughed a lot, and had a blast.

Q: In one sentence, your best advice to young, fresh out-of-college journalists.

Don't worry about those student loans - you will be able to pay them off eventually, I promise!

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