Eminentoes

Ed Schultz: The Third Least Influential Person Alive

Union money, liberal big donor start-up spiced by a bad case of Hannity-envy.

By 5.1.12

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…Then there are pundits like Ed Schultz. Do you watch "The Ed Show" on MSNBC? Of course you don't. No one does. The only reason people watch "The Ed Show" is they're working out in a hotel gym and they can't find a staff member to change the channel to ESPN. -- GQ on MSNBC's Ed Schultz

There have probably been more inconsequential personalities in American life than Ed Schultz.

Paris Hilton comes to mind.

But late last year Gentlemen's Quarterly decided to actually compile a list of "The Least Influential People Alive" -- and Paris Hilton didn't even make the list.

MSNBC's Schultz came in at Number Three.

Beating out by an impressive eight slots Harold Camping, the guy who has three times predicted the specific date the world would end and, um, was proved wrong. Not to mention such other un-notables as Tila Tequila and Tiger Woods' caddy.  On the other hand, Schultz did manage to squeeze by Number Two – Britain's Princess Beatrice. The latter, the daughter of Prince Andrew and Fergie, was ahead of Schultz only because of her attire at the Prince William-Kate Middleton wedding, which apparently was taken as an indicator of her seriousness. Which, of course, makes Schultz the only TV commentator in America to be known as less influential than the British Princess described as -- forgive me, but this is GQ – "the raccoon with the vagina hat."

This, mind you, from a magazine that is the very essence of the left-wing secular culture in magazine form. To add insult to injury, the magazine was forced to admit in its own backhanded compliment from left to right that "There are so many repugnant political pundits on TV now, we tend to forget that the likes of Sean Hannity actually represent the best of the lot."

Inevitable far-left gratuitous insult to Hannity aside, the point is taken. Even GQ is forced to admit Americans watch our friend Mr. Hannity, not Ed Schultz.

Understanding this as a given, a rare agreement in the world of left and right, perhaps the better question is: why?

Facts.

MSNBC's Ed Schultz has his radio show because he was funded by big donor leftists.

MSNBC's Ed Schultz has been on the union payroll since 2005.

MSNBC's Ed Schultz is getting shellacked in the cable TV ratings. 

MSNBC's Ed Schultz, says the Daily Caller, has his scripts written by Media Matters.

What to make of this? And why care?

Let's start here.

Forget all the business about lights, camera, action, microphones. Forget even -- for a moment -- political philosophy.

Never, ever underestimate the capacity of the green-eyed monster to fuel all manner of otherwise jaw-dropping behavior.

Schultz's endless blustery fits of screaming attacks on Hannity that amount to a perpetual ear splitting rendition of "mine is bigger than yours" is apparently driven by nothing more difficult to understand than that Schultz suffers a permanent, raging case of talk-show jealousy.

This -- perhaps infinitely more than plain old fashioned political differences -- is what appears to be behind Schultz's well-advertised contempt not only for Hannity but Rush Limbaugh as well. A few years back Mark Levin called out Schultz's apparent whining self-pity about no one giving him a chance. But at bottom? Every time Schultz feels the need to go off on some toot about Hannity, as even GQ had the wit to understand, it's one more sign of Schultz's inconsequence.

So let's get on to the philosophy here.

What brought Schultz's inconsequence to attention was the publicity surrounding Schultz's latest Hannity assault -- this one on hunger. Doubtlessly fed to him by his script writers over at Media Matters. But here's the kicker: in attacking Hannity's observations about hunger in America Schultz showed yet again why even left-wing publications like GQ think he's a few transmitters short of a radio tower.

Listen carefully to this Schultz jewel on hunger. Or at least it was supposed to be about hunger but was really -- yet again -- about Hannity. What is Schultz saying?

"More kids go to bed hungry in this country today than they did last year, is that correct?"

Schultz's guest, the President of Feeding America, Vickie Escarra, agrees, saying: "More than ever before."

In other words, in the age of Obama, as Schultz says without a hint of understanding, "more kids go to bed hungry in this country today." Hunger in America has gotten worse in the Obama era, not better. Worse than "ever before" says his own guest.

Hello? Worse than the Reagan years? Yes. Worse than the Bush 41 years? Yes. Worse than the Clinton years? Yes. Worse than the Bush 43 years. Yes. Worse than all those years between 1981 and 2009 when the free market economics of the Reagan Revolution was on fire with job production (some 50 million) and economic abundance.

The point here is not that Schultz's bluster backfires, as humorous as that may be. The real point is that there is something about Schultz and his jealous foaming about Hannity or Rush that tells his audience there is something slightly askew here. To the point that in his obsessive zeal to get Hannity, Ed Schultz winds up getting -- himself.

Why else would he shriek that Laura Ingraham is a "slut" or that Hadassah Lieberman (wife of Connecticut Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman) is a "whore"? Why else scream that "you're damn right" former Vice President Dick Cheney should have his heart ripped out so it could be kicked around and stuffed back in him?

Curiously enough, the answer for this routine rating-less ranting may be found here in an anonymous but clearly informed post by a source who had an interesting Ed Schultz story.

The poster (and remember this is presumably a liberal posting at a liberal site) accuses Schultz of --gasp!!!! -- never really believing left-wing doctrine because he never let go of his one-time conservatism!

The other players mentioned are also liberal hosts -- "Randi" doubtless ex-Air America hostette Randi Rhodes, "The Turks" presumably Cenk Uygur et al. and Mike…who knows. The far-left Mike Malloy perhaps.

Writes the liberal:

Saw your post about Schultz. I have a story to tell you. Maybe you've heard it already but its interesting because I was involved.

Mike, Randi, Thom Hartman, The Turks, Nancy Skinner, myself and a couple of others attended a two day meeting a little over three years ago. It was held at the Rayburn building on Capitol Hill. It was sponsored by Democracy Radio Inc. which was headed up by Tom Athans, who is the husband of Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Athans, thru his wife got this nice cushy job with a nice fat salary and he was to promote "Liberal Radio". The reason for this meeting was for him to get to know whatever "Liberal" talent there was available.

Randi and I were sitting in one of the House of Representative hearing rooms and this guy walks in and sits over in the corner by himself. It was Ed Schultz. Randi says to me: "The asshole over in the corner is that prick Ed Schultz from North Dakota." She had already had a problem with him of some kind and it was obvious she didn't like him even a little bit. Anyway, Tom Athans promised to help a couple of us out with money to buy airtime and promote some shows into syndication. He promised me to my face that Democracy Radio would do "whatever it takes" to get my show into syndication. From what I've heard he promised a couple of others at that meeting the same thing.

Well, that was the last time Athans had anything to do with any of us except Schultz. Tom Daschle was in trouble for his re-election bid and he went to Schultz (since Schultz was on the big station up there in Daschle's area) and made a deal with him. Sort of a "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours type deal." Schultz was a dyed in the wool conservative Republican at the time but he was on Fargo's biggest station. I'm told Daschle promised him that he (Daschle) would see to it that Schultz would have access to the money people in the Party thru him. Daschle hooked Schultz up with several Democratic Senators, including Hillary, Mary Landrieu, and some others who met down in New Orleans. The rest is history. Daschle lost but Schultz came out the big winner with a nice fat contract and the promise of all of the Democrat big-wigs appearing on his program anytime he wanted. Athans then got him syndicated with Jones network (along with Stephanie Miller who is also very well connected in D.C.) Now, Athans is a vice-president at AAR.

The idea that Schultz is any kind of Liberal whatsoever is laughable. Right after he started his program I listened to him one day and wrote him an e-mail stating that his attitude on the show was hardly Liberal. He wrote back: "Who gives a shit what Liberals want. This is MY radio show." He is a complete phoney.(sic) The part that really burns my ass is that Democrats on DU and elsewhere think this guy is one of us when all Schultz is doing is laughing at his audience behind their backs. 

Now.

Some version of this story, as a commenter at the site notes, has been kicking around over the years. But it's essence?

What Schultz and other liberal hosts are engaged in is an exercise in what might be called astro-turf radio. The seed money is supplied by rich left-wing donors, and a top-down exercise in radio begins.

To the contrary, the Hannity story -- or the Rush Limbaugh story or the stories of other well-known talk radio stars who have spent a lifetime in radio -- is the old-fashioned American success story of slowly working -- relentlessly working -- from bottom to top. And succeeding not only because of radio skills that appeal to an audience -- but having a message to deliver every single day for five days a week. A message -- conservatism in this case -- that vast numbers of people genuinely want to hear.

There is a reason that Schultz is so obsessed with Hannity's earning power in such derisive terms. That reason is a simple one: Schultz can't match it. And he can't match it -- will never match it -- because, as the quaint saying goes, the dogs aren't eating the dog food.

The dog food known as liberalism.

Interestingly if inadvertently, this problem with selling liberalism on the radio or television was underlined recently by two very different people.

The first was one-time MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who has a famous habit of being fired by his various employers. But the last one -- Al Gore's Current TV -- elicited from Olbermann a remark that wasn't quite as absurd as many took it to be when he made it on David Letterman's show. Olbermann compared himself to a "a $10 million chandelier" in a house -- meaning Current TV -- that didn't have a room to put it in.

The second person to touch on this problem was comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who took his turn trying to make Washington political and media elites laugh at Saturday night's White House Correspondent's Dinner. Said Kimmel, in a jibe that seemed aimed Olbermann but spoke volumes about liberalism:

I'd like everyone to look under their seats. You'll find a copy of Keith Olbermann's resume. I didn't know Current TV existed, because I don't get Channel 1,000,000.

In other words, getting past Olbermann's ego and Kimmel's joke, the point is exactly the same as it is when discussing Ed Schultz. To wit: Liberalism doesn't have an audience to speak of. Or perhaps, period. Whether it's for Al Gore's Current TV. Or Ed Schultz.

It's been tried. It's been tested. It has been found to be -- yet again -- a failure.

As Schultz inadvertently communicated when lashing out obsessively at Hannity yet again, there are more hungry people in the Obama era than "ever before." Because liberalism has a long and decided track record in inducing poverty and hunger in America. Or, as we observed in this space last week, whether the man in charge is Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama -- the results of liberalism are always, always the same.

Which is why GQ (of all publications) grudgingly newsflashed that Ed Schultz is no Sean Hannity.

Which is why Sean Hannity didn't need conservative donor funding for his show.

Which is why Sean Hannity isn't on a union payroll.

Which is why Sean Hannity has huge ratings.

Which is why Sean Hannity doesn't have to have outside groups write his television scripts.

Which is why Sean Hannity earns the big bucks.

Which, taken all together, is why MSNBC's Ed Schultz spends his time spluttering about Sean Hannity.

What else is there to do if you're the third least influential person alive?

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.