- Former host of nightly news program on MSNBC television
- Former conservative who became a leftist
- Holds Republicans and conservatives in contempt, characterizing them as racists
- Favors a steeply progressive tax structure
Born in Norfolk, Virginia on January 27, 1954, Ed Schultz was a sports broadcaster in North Dakota from the early 1980s through 2003. In 1992 he also started working as a political talk-show host in the city of Fargo. On April 1, 2009, Schultz began anchoring his own nightly program on MSNBC television, titled The Ed Show. In April 2013 Schultz’s program was moved to weekends only, but on August 26 of that year it returned to a daily weekday broadcast schedule (at 5 pm ET). On July 30, 2015, MSNBC president Phil Griffin announced that Schultz’s program was being cancelled; the show aired its final episode the following day, with Schultz absent from the set. Schultz subsequently began airing a daily, half-hour podcast commenting on news and current events.
Schultz is a former conservative who became a leftist in the late 1990s when, as he puts it, “I basically got out in the world” and had “a series of grass roots experiences.” Today Schultz identifies strongly with the Democratic Party, reviling Republicans and conservatives as racist elitists. In April 2011, for instance, he stated definitively that “the Republican Party stands for … racism.” Three months earlier, he had characterized Republicans as “bastards” who “want to take down American workers,” “outsource jobs,” “destroy the American dream,” “concentrate the wealth to the top,” and “control minorities.” “The only thing that satisfies the conservative movement in this country,” Schultz said on another occasion, “is when they can keep a liberal down, when they can keep a worker down, when they can keep a minority down.” In January 2014, Schultz depicted Republicans as “heartless and cruel.”
In July 2010 Schultz exhorted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to do everything in his power to neuter the Republicans legislatively. “[S]hove the Republicans into the ditch!” he exhorted Reid. “Shove those bastards right into the dirthole!” In the same tirade, Schultz shouted: “To hell with the Republicans! They’re anti-American!”
Schultz commonly employs vulgar language when denouncing conservatives. On May 24, 2011, he characterized talk-radio host Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut” and a “talk slut.” In November 2013, he referred to Fox News’s Steve Doocy, who had been critical of President Barack Obama‘s recent diplomatic dealings with Iran, as “Steve Douchey”—a play on the word “douche,” a form of vaginal irrigation. On another occasion—May 11, 2009—Schultz, on his radio show, wished death upon former Vice President Dick Cheney:
“I knew this was going to happen today, we were going to get into a conversation about that dirt bag, Dick Cheney…. He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is, he is an enemy of the country. He’s making it harder for those who are in power right now to protect the country. He’s about the political divide. It just, I just think the guy’s such a freakin’ loser. You know, Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you? See, I don’t even wish the guy goes to Hell. I just want to get him the hell out of here.”
In August 2013 Schultz, decrying what he viewed as a “conservative separatist movement that is taking grip in America,” charged that “some Republicans think it’s their God-given right to discriminate and their dangerously [sic] thinking is starting to spread across America.”
That same month, Schultz condemned ABC‘s conservative commentator George Will for noting that the city of Detroit was experiencing a “cultural collapse” due, in large part, to the fact that 47% of its adults were functionally illiterate and 79% of its children were born to unmarried mothers. “Conservatives are using the most insulting language possible they can come up with,” Schultz complained, “to … blame black people, blame their culture for Detroit’s troubles…. I mean, that is about as insulting and as racist as it gets.”
An avid admirer of President Obama, Schultz in September 2013 was incredulous at a poll indicating that just 45% of Americans thought Obama was handling the U.S. economy effectively. “It amazes me that people don’t love Obama,” said Schultz, who also took an opportunity to criticize former President Ronald Reagan for having “brought the philosophy [that] if the wealthy people don’t pay much in taxes, our job market is going to go nuts.”
On August 15, 2011, Schultz used an edited video clip of Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry saying that: “[G]etting America back to work is the most important issue that faces this country, being able to pay off $14.5 trillion or $16 trillion worth of debt. That big black cloud that hangs over America, that debt that is so monstrous.” Cutting off the audio of the clip after the word “America,” Schultz said: “That black cloud Perry is talking about is President Barack Obama.” The following day, Schultz apologized for having taken Governor Perry’s words out of context.
Schultz takes pains to present himself as a champion of the average person, as exemplified by the following diatribe which he unleashed on October 12, 2011:
“You’re damn right I’m a tax-and-spend liberal. It’s time to tax the top one percent and spend it on the working folk of America who need a job, who need a school, who need some health care — all of this. I’m a tax-and-spend liberal. I want to tax those who have had all the breaks over the past 30 years, and I want to make sure the working folk of America have a shot.”
But while Schultz was demanding higher taxes on the wealthy, the State of South Dakota hit his company E.A. Schultz Construction with a tax lien for $5,100. Moreover, Schultz headquarters this company in North Dakota rather than in his home state of Minnesota, so as to avoid the high corporate taxes he would have to pay in the latter.
Healthcare reform ranks high among the issues about which Schultz has spoken most passionately on the air. Enraged over Republican opposition to the type of reform Democrats wanted, Schultz in September 2009 shouted: “The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They’d rather make money off your dead corpse!”
In a February 2010 discussion about healthcare reform, Schultz said “the Democrats should use” the numerous lifesaving heart operations that former Vice President Dick Cheney had undergone “as the example as to [the type of healthcare options] the Republicans have been voting against all along.” When a conservative blogger subsequently noted that Schultz had referenced Cheney’s heart problems in an effort to score a political point, Schultz angrily retorted: “You’re damn right, Dick Cheney’s heart’s a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him. I’m glad he didn’t tip over [and die]. He is the new poster child for health care in this country.”
In August 2010, when a conservative Tea Party blog (which opposed the healthcare reforms that Democrats were advocating) listed the DC home addresses of Democrats Tom Daschle, Anita Dunn, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, Schultz told his TV viewers: “Folks, this is what the Brown Shirts did in the 1930s in Germany. They used to target businesses, target people, target families, list names, attack their businesses.”
In January 2011, Schultz asserted that Republicans “have a pre-civil rights attitude when it comes to health care…. [T]hey want to openly discriminate against people because they’re sick…. This takes us back to the ’60s!… They want to deny people an opportunity to get better. They want to exclude. They want a two-class society.”
Discussing the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) in August 2013, Schultz accused Republican critics of maliciously “lying about” a law that “saves lives,” “is good for America,” and “is the most positive thing that this country has done since the civil rights legislation that was passed back in the ’60s.” On September 30—the day immediately preceding Obamacare’s official rollout—Schultz derided “all of these right-wing commercials” depicting the law in a negative light, and told his viewers that if they were to visit the ACA’s healthcare.gov website, they would be highly impressed with “how easy it is to read, how easy it is to navigate all the information, all the basic questions, and all the direction you need to take to get involved, to get health care.” Contrary to Schultz’s claims, however, when Obamacare was launched the following day the website was essentially inoperative; it would continue to function inadequately for months thereafter.
On August 24, 2013, during MSNBC’s live coverage of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the historic March on Washington, Schultz praised Al Sharpton, who organized the event and served as its keynote speaker. Said Schultz: “There’s no doubt that Reverend [Al] Sharpton is the contemporary civil rights leader of our time….”
In October 2013 Schultz accused congressional Republicans who sought to defund Obamacare of committing “economic terrorism” and plotting a “legislative coup d’etat” against the President. Regarding Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s criticisms of the ACA in particular, Schultz said: “Under Obamacare, people’s lives will be saved. It’s an absolute. And I think it’s fair to say that Michele Bachmann wanting to deny 30 million Americans health care is anti-American.”
In November 2013, Schultz was one of a number of liberal and left-wing journalists and commentators whom President Obama invited to the White House to discuss ways in which they could put a positive spin on Obamacare, which had become a public-relations disaster. Others in attendance included David Corn, E.J. Dionne, Maureen Dowd, Ezra Klein, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Frank Rich, Eugene Robinson, Andrew Sullivan, and Juan Williams.
Schultz, who owns two North Dakota companies—Ed Schultz Broadcasting, LLC and E.A. Schultz Construction, LLC—commonly criticizes companies that do not offer health insurance to their workers. But he himself does not provide such insurance for his employees.
In December 2013, it was learned that Schultz, who had repeatedly criticized wealthy Republicans and conservatives for owning private jets, himself owned a number of private jets and routinely concealed his flight data from the public.1 Specifically, Schultz owned, at that time, a Cessna 560 (worth approximately $5 million), a Cessna 208B (worth over $1.5 million), and a Piper Cheyenne turboprop (with an estimated value exceeding $2 million). Moreover, he had previously sold a Cessna 560 to Lakin Tire West, Inc. in 2011.
Some examples of Schultz having previously criticized private-plane usage over the years included the following:
- “If you look at the agenda that the Democrats have got on the table, it is, you know, they’re—all of these issues are polling favorably. This is what the American people want. They want stem cell research. They want federal funding for it. They want minimum wage. They want border protection. You know, they want ethics reform—no more corporate jets, no more golf trips.” —Schultz on the Larry King Show, 2007
- “It’s really easy to go buy any house you want, depending on how you want to live, eat in the finest restaurants and fly on private jets.” —Schultz criticizing Fox News hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on September 20, 2011
An outspoken defender of labor unions, Schultz has received hundreds of thousands of union dollars in recent years. According to Labor Department records:
- In fiscal 2005, he received $5,000 from Laborers’ International.
- In fiscal 2006, he received $21,820 from unions—including $8,820 from AFSCME (for “union administration”), $7,500 from Laborers’ International (for “union administration”), and $5,500 from Air Traffic Controllers (for “political activities”).
- In fiscal 2007, he was paid $8,616 by the the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW (for “representational activities”).
- In fiscal 2008, he was paid $22,304 by unions—including $10,000 from United Steelworkers (for “union administration”), $7,304 from Air Traffic Controllers (for “general overhead”), and $5,000 from Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 189 (for “general overhead”).
- In fiscal 2009, he received $42,500 from unions—including $17,500 from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, $10,000 from AFSMCE, and $7,500 each from the Building and Construction Trades union and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. (All were for “political activities.”)
- In fiscal 2010, he was paid $37,350 by unions—including $15,000 from AFSCME, $14,850 from the IBEW, and $7,500 from the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
- In fiscal 2011, he received $190,000 from the CWA (for “representational activities”) and $9,900 from the IBEW.
- In fiscal 2012, he received at least $177,000 from unions.
- In fiscal 2013, he was paid $75,000 by unions.
According to the same Labor Department records, Schultz received no union money between fiscal years 2000 and 2004—when he was not yet a passionate advocate for unions over the airwaves.
In a December 12, 2013 statement to Politico.com, MSNBC spokesperson Lauren Skowronski said that the union payments to Schultz were for advertisements on his radio program and website, as well as for speaking engagements. Skowronski stated that all funds from speaking engagements had been donated to charity, in keeping with company policy.
In the aftermath of a December 2015 incident of Islamic terrorism where gunmen murdered 14 people and wounded 31 others in San Bernardino, California, Schultz condemned Republicans and conservatives who opposed more restrictive gun-control measures. Asserting that the Second Amendment was outdated, Schultz said:
“So what has to happen here, folks, and this is political tough talk — if the Democrats don’t want any silence, then they have to speak up and just tell the American people we can’t get anything done on gun violence because Republicans are in the way. Put it on the obstructors. Put it on the people who always defend a piece of paper that was two hundred and twenty-five years old or whatever, back in a society that doesn’t even exist today, the Second Amendment. There has to be rules and regulations for a contemporary society.
“But until the Democrats become not silent and say that we can’t do gun violence control in this country or any kind of gun measures because Republicans are in the way. Then maybe you might strike a nerve with the American people to get rid of some of these jackasses who live by an old document that is just totally outdated. We’ve changed the Constitution before! We’ve added to the Constitution but we simply cannot do anything about gun violence in America.”
In January 2016, Schultz took a job as the anchorman of a prime-time political news program with the Kremlin-backed television organization RT America — a branch of Russia Today TV.
1 In late 2011 the Department of Transportation dropped a requirement mandating that private plane owners reveal their flight information—including registration number, flight, path, departure point, destination, and flight length—to the general public. And Schultz, accordingly, elected to block that information regarding his own flight activities.