The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

02 April 2009

Ed Schultz Tapped For Second-Tier MSNBC Slot


Ed TV: A New Fodder Machine For Conservatives



Could this prove a lesson in listening to that little voice in the back of one's head?

Clearly indicating concerns over libtalker Ed Schultz's potential for their network, NBC execs have awarded him a consolation prize: 6pm ET, rather than the primetime slot that was the subject of a fierce, months-long battle.

But in choosing to keep a Keith Olbermann rerun in place at 10pm, network suits have revealed their hand and it's terribly weak. With lingering questions over his personal demons, entertainment value and long-term viability, why hire Schultz at all?

In reporting on their decision to leave 10pm open, the AP noted that a new program would cost millions of dollars to develop. So why expend those same scarce resources on a 6pm show?

Last week, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center predicted that hiring Schultz would backfire badly for MSNBC. Obviously, NBC brass has some idea that this might be true, but took the risk anyway.

Taking advantage of her lead-in from Olbermann's 8pm slot, Rachel Maddow has survived mostly because she is the opposite of Ed Schultz.

Maddow isn't going to melt down on the air or get into a bar fight. Even if her ratings continue to drop, at least she keeps NBC out of trouble.

Another major issue for Schultz is credibility. In the past, he was a conservative talk show host in Fargo, until he was actually bought and paid for by the Democratic Party and did a sudden conversion. From a little-known C-SPAN interview of fellow libtalker Randi Rhodes in 2005:

LAMB: Go back to the meeting, how long were you there?

RHODES: Where?

LAMB: With the Senators?

RHODES: I think they gave me an hour or so. And it was very – we ate lunch, which of course, I didn‘t eat, because I was terrified. But 30 Senators showed up. I was amazed. For me it was like, I kept saying, when I got on the air, I talked about it and I said it was like being at Walt Disney World. Do you ever got to like the good Disney hotels in Disney and you see your favorite characters? Like Mickey comes out and Donald comes out. I go, well I watch C-SPAN, so like these are my characters – these are my TV characters. And it was like, you know, here comes (INAUDIBLE). And you know, let‘s face it a lot of Senators aren't recognized by people.

I was going oh my God, that‘s (INAUDIBLE). Oh my God, that's Dick Durbin. Oh my god, that's Dorgan. Oh my God, that's Tom Daschle. Oh my god, and, you know, everybody knows Hillary, obviously, she was First Lady of the United States. But how many recognize Barbara Mikulski and know that she makes a mean crab cake.

You know, so it was fantastic. I was too nervous to eat. I guess they liked me. And so then they organized a lunch at Mary Landrieu's house. And I was invited to this lunch. And again, it was, you know, democrat senators with an interest in media and getting our message out. And they thought that – they had had 30 people that they had spoken two, and it came down to two that they really liked and thought could do it. And it was me and this guy at Schultz (ph).

LAMB: From North Dakota?

RHODES: Yes. And he was there because Daschle was scared.

LAMB: He's South Dakota, but he's from that area.

RHODES: Yes, I do that too. Anyway, I …

LAMB: And they were going to select one of the two of you?

RHODES: They were – I don't know exactly what the plan was, I do now. I didn‘t that day. And all I know is that Ed got up and he made this big presentation. And then they looked at me and I thought was just there to have lunch. And I remember being terrific. I don't like public speaking, all that much. It‘s weird with people, you know, I'm so used to my little cubicle.

And so I remember, I didn't even get up to the front of the room, I was too scared. I was sitting next to Senator Durbin who's very funny. I mean he was – he had me entertained the whole lunch. On the other side of me, I won‘t say who it was, it wasn‘t a politician, there was a man who explaining my lunch to me, like oh you poor sweet little country mouse, you won‘t understand the fancy Washington food. This is squash.

LAMB: In the Senate?

RHODES: No. It wasn't a politician.

LAMB: This is Mary Landrieu's house.

RHODES: It was at her house. It wasn't a servant either. It was an invited guest. And he was saying OK, this is a squash, and in it is squash soup. And they just serve it in the squash. And I was like, I was so insulted, plus I was nervous. And then all of a sudden I hear my name, and applause, and I‘m like so I put my knee on my chair, and I just – I stood up and I was like I was shaking. I didn't even know what I was supposed to be talking about. And the next thing I know I hear 250, 350. I hear and I think they‘re giving dollars, a silent auction, a charity. You know, they‘re giving to rescue aid. It turns out it was 250,000, 350,000.

LAMB: So these are business people in the…

RHODES: What it was, it was the best donors that the Senate could find for me. And this is the way Washington operates, so they were being kind.

LAMB: Did you like that when you saw that all of that?

RHODES: I hated it. I actually got on the air, and said I feel like I just got off the Amistad. I feel like I‘ve just been on the slave auction block. Now I know what it feels like to be auctioned off.

LAMB: What were they going to do with the money?

RHODES: They were going to start a syndication for us. They were going to give us, you know, the money we needed to start it up.

LAMB: And Ed Schultz (ph) is now on Air America.

RHODES: He took the money. I actually gave him the money that day. I stood outside. I did my broadcast in Washington that day. And I went downstairs and I said, you can have it. Whatever they raise, I don't want it. I‘m just – first of all I‘m not going to be mouthpiece for the party. I don't agree with a lot of the things that they say and do. And I need to be free to say so. I don't walk – I'm not a Republican. I‘m not a trained sheep. I‘m not a lemming. I don't just follow.

Far more recently, just hours ago in fact, Tim Graham at NewsBusters believes he's caught Schultz in an outright lie:

Last week, MRC president Brent Bozell issued a press release about the negotiations between the talker and MSNBC, taking the network even further to the left: "I will offer NBC a bit of friendly advice: When you find yourself in an embarrassment hole, stop digging,"

Schultz responded by blowing smoke on his radio show that rumors of an MSNBC show were baseless speculation, and that he was a "radio guy...I’m not going anywhere." Is that a lie, or simply a Clintonesque non-denial denial? He said:

But I find it interesting that out of nowhere, where there's no basis of anything, it's just a bunch of speculation out there, that Brent Bozell would put out a statement about MSNBC for associating with Ed if that ever happens, and he's got, quote, some friendly advice (laughs) He's got friendly advice.

Before that, he said:

Who is Brent Bozo? He's with some media research, right-wing outfit and he put out a press release yesterday saying that MSNBC is lower than whale manure or whatever, I don't know what he, it's something about, if they hire Schultz, it's the lowest of the low. First of all, just, folks, settle down. I'm here on the Ed Schultz Show. Everything's fine. I'm not going anywhere, I'm a radio guy, OK? I'm a radio guy. I'm here.

Whether Ed TV can generate television ratings is anyone's guess- we will find out soon enough. But what can be guaranteed outright is that Schultz will prove to be a goldmine for conservatives, as MSNBC's low-rated, yet fodder-rich network makes another dodgy move. How soon will NBC execs be wondering how they could have made such an ill-advised move?

UPDATE: Schultz has been canned from his longtime flagship station in Fargo, based on comments made about the recent damaging floods. From the Forum:

KFGO-AM radio in Fargo announced this morning that longtime radio talk show personality Ed Schultz would no longer be part of their local lineup.

Joel Heitkamp, who had hosted a KFGO talk show host from 2-5 p.m. daily, will take over Schultz's former "News and Views" from 8:30-10:30 a.m. The morning intro to the show was redone today to exclude Schultz and replace it with Heitkamp.

Heitkamp read a statement just after 9 a.m. announcing the changes. Vern Thompson, Schultz's producer, read a brief statement from Schultz thanking his former listeners.

Schultz has been absent from KFGO programming since the middle of last week when, during the height of the Fargo-Moorhead flood threat, he criticized local officials for their preparations and predicted the area would lose the flood fight because of it.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker asked the public to ignore Schultz's comments, saying Schultz was an entertainer, not a newsman.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • heh.....I don't see this lasting long. The make-up costs for Ed alone will sink MSNBC. If there ever was a face made for radio, Ed's is it. Looks like the Pilsbury dough boy, left out in the sun too long, but without the endearing personality....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 April, 2009 12:15  

  • It's apparent that Obama and Schultz hate white people. I haven't seen them yet go to N. Dakota and help with sandbagging efforts or put together a telethon for those affected. If Kanye West can say, without any repudiation, that President Bush hated black people, then my statement is just as correct and appropriate

    By Anonymous Conservative in Cleveland, at 03 April, 2009 06:32  

  • Ed "Sgt." Schultz -- the poster boy for liberal insanity.

    Get your popcorn, folks, and witness the slow self-inflicted demise of MSNBC.

    By Blogger Carl, at 04 April, 2009 14:18  

  • They say he is moving to D.C. well he can stay gone. Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker is amazing and is saving Fargo. He's the reason we were saved in 1997 and he's the reason will make it through this. Ed should just shut his mouth. Just move away and say away. We don't need his liberal crap around here. He'd want us to wait for the feds to come and take care of us. But if we did that we wouldn't have a city. So Goodby Ed I hope never to see, or hear you again. Why don't you do your hunting in VA and stay out of ND

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 05 April, 2009 22:43  

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