Mainstream media in the United States does not entertain many voices from the great middle of the country. And those that break through do not usually maintain a residence in Minnesota or keep hunting and fishing in North Dakota. So Ed Schultz is a rarity. His nationally syndicated radio program and his nightly MSNBC show bring a distinct perspective to the debate, not just because the host comes from a different place but because the host in interested in different people and different issues.
Schultz focuses on the struggles of working men and woman and their unions. He goes where they live, to shipyards and warehouses and factories, to the scenes of mass demonstrations for labor rights in Wisconsin.
Schultz works hard, producing three hours of radio programming every day, along with an hour of television each night. Along with Fox’s Sean Hannity, he maintains a dramatically busier schedule than is common or expected of major media personalities. And sometimes, in the midst of all that talking, he says the wrong thing.
That happened Tuesday when Schultz was in the midst of a radio rant about right-wing criticism of President Obama’s European trip. Schultz was taking apart the conservatives who were attacking Obama for being out of the country when tornados were hitting Oklahoma and Missouri, noting that they had not been angry with George Bush for taking trips at similar points. In the midst of the conversation, Schultz said, “President Obama is going to be visiting Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday, but you know what [Republicans are] talking about, like this right-wing slut, what’s her name? Laura Ingraham? Yeah, she’s a talk slut. You see, she was, back in the day, praising President Reagan when he was drinking a beer overseas. But now that Obama’s doing it, they’re working him over.”
In no time, the right-wing media monitors who have been dogging Schultz ever since he emerged as a rare and steady critic of corporate abuses and conservative privatization schemes, were highlighting the crude language. But they were not the only ones objecting; sincere critics of sexism in the media, many of whom had come to see Schultz as a friend and ally, also raised their voices. “Laura Ingraham is no friend to women, and while we disagree with many of her views, the type of language Ed Schultz used, whether accidentally or on purpose, has the effect of legitimizing sexism and undermines the credibility of all women,” explained Women’s Media Center president Julie Burton. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Schultz agreed, issuing one of the most heartfelt apologies ever aired by a television personality. Decrying his own use of “vile and inappropriate language,” he opened Wednesday night’s Ed Show on MSNBC by saying: “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. It was wrong, uncalled for, and I recognize the severity of what I said. I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness.”