Lefty Talker Ed Schultz Wary of Obama Team Claims on Blagojevich

Maybe there's hope for some of those immersed in left-wing media.

Liberal radio host Ed Schultz has been decidedly skeptical about claims emanating from the Obama inner circle about whether contact was made between Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Obama or his surrogates on filling Obama's Senate vacancy.  

Schultz hammered away at this on Wednesday's show, focusing on what could be Obama's Achilles' heel in the affair, senior adviser David Axelrod's statement on Nov. 23 that Obama and Blagojevich had spoken about the vacancy (after the scandal broke, Axelrod claimed he "misspoke").

After playing a clip of Axelrod's statement on Nov. 23, Schultz had this to say (audio) --

Well, OK, how can any fair-minded American say, well, that's OK, we're done with that angle of the story. Wait a minute. This is a clear, admitted discrepancy and it makes people wonder what the hell's going on here.

Schultz continued in the same vein in taking calls from listeners, including this response from a caller who praised him for his skepticism (audio) --

Well, look, I think you have to be living underneath a rock not to admit that there are some discrepancies here. There isn't anybody closer to Barack Obama than Axelrod. Axelrod says one thing and then he puts out a statement after the fact saying something else. How can any fair-minded American say, Hey! That's just a mistake. OK, if you want to accept that, that's fine, but I think in fairness we need to point that out. The second thing is, we need to point out, that whether you love Barack Obama or not or whatever, he gave us some Bush-speak yesterday, OK? He has not called for the resignation of the governor but other people have. People are looking to Barack Obama right now, looking for some leadership on this. And to say that he's had no contact? Now, I'm going to take this even a step further, Al (caller). Let me paint this picture. You have two people from the same party, one's a governor, one just got elected to the presidency of the United States. There is a vacancy. How rare would it be for those two not to have any conversation, any contact whatsoever about who's going to go into that vacant Senate seat? I'm just asking the question. How rare is that?

Axelrod's claim that he "misspoke" didn't cut it, Schultz said (audio) --

Axelrod needs to do more than just put out a statement. I want to see him. I want to hear him. I want to make sure that he made a mistake. Because this soundbite is rather convincing to me in its face value (Axelrod statement played again, followed by Schultz announcing news that Obama is calling on Blagojevich to resign and saying, "Good call, Barack").

Schultz's skepticism was mirrored later on Wednesday when he spoke with ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper, to the point that Schultz's earlier comments could easily have been mistaken as queries from a seasoned and professional journalist.

Here's what Tapper had to say (audio) --

What's frustrating is, you know, if you read the criminal complaint against Gov. Blagojevich, there's nothing in here implying that President-elect Obama did anything wrong. In fact, you know, his team comes across as ones who are, as a team that is refusing to pay to play, refusing to give Gov. Blagojevich anything in exchange for naming their preferred candidate to the US Senate. But I don't really quite understand yet why it's taking so long to get answers to what seem to be fairly legitimate and logical questions about why so many members of the Obama inner circle are mentioned in this complaint ...

It would be unusual if nobody on the Obama team talked to anybody on the governor's team at all. Obviously there was a Senate seat to fill and Obama and Blagojevich have known each other for a few years, have some alliances, have some common friends, perhaps most especially Rahm Emanuel, so it would be normal for them to talk. So what did they talk about, was there anything, you know, why was Blagojevich so assured that nobody on the Obama team would give him anything in exchange for naming Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat? These aren't accusatory questions, these are questions to fill in some of the blanks.

Compare Schultz's criticism to the apologia offered Wednesday by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Obama's unofficial PR network. Obama may yet be implicated in the scandal, Maddow said, but based on what is known, "it seems that the GOP is screaming fire about one extinguished matchstick."

Clearly enough, it isn't just the "GOP" asking awkward questions about conflicting smoke signals from the Obama camp.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts