Ed Schultz Unintentionally Bolsters Limbaugh's Case Against Fairness Doctrine

Top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh has gotten some unexpected help in his campaign against the so-called Fairness Doctrine that would censor conservative talk radio -- liberal radio host Ed Schultz, though Schultz most assuredly did not intend for this to happen.

On his nationally syndicated program Friday, Schultz read excerpts from an op-ed written by Limbaugh and published in that day's Wall Street Journal, a column taking the form of a letter to President Obama.

Here's Schultz, reading from Limbaugh's op-ed  --
Mr. President, we both know that this effort at regulating speech is not about diversity but conformity. You've said you're against reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, but you've not made it clear where you stand on possible regulatory efforts to impose so-called local content, diversity-of-ownership, and public interest rules that your FCC could issue ...

... I would encourage you not to allow your office to be misused to advance a political vendetta against certain broadcasters whose opinions are not shared by many in your party and ideologically liberal groups such as ACORN, (the) Center for American Progress, and Moveon.org. There is no groundswell of support behind this movement. Indeed, there is a groundswell against it...

... We in talk radio await your answer. What will it be? Government-imposed censorship disguised as "fairness" and "balance"? Or will the arena of ideas remain a free market?

To which Schultz responded, digging deep indeed (click here for audio, which includes Schultz arguing with a caller) --

Well apparently the drugster not only has some drugs in his pocket, he also has a turd in his pocket. We in talk radio await your answer?! See, Rush thinks it's all about him. He thinks that the radio industry can't survive without him. And this is fear-mongering is what it is. Uh, first of all, he, he, well, he can't clean out his ears 'cause he's got some electronic thing in there because he took so many drugs, he can't hear, and he must have missed this on the campaign trail, when the president made it very clear that he was not in favor of the Fairness Doctrine. But this is one of these fear-mongering stories that the right-wing talkers constantly gin up 'cause they got nothing else to talk about.

And so now they're trying to, you know, push the idea on the American consumer that, oh the liberals, they're out to take our microphone, they want us off the air! Uh, no, that's not the case. The president made it very clear through a spokesperson during this week, in fact Friday, Ben LaBolt said that President Obama is opposed to any move to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Now that's English, that's not Russian or German or French, that's straight English. President Obama is opposed to any move to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Rush, I don't know if that contraption behind your head can decipher what that is, but that's what it is.

But he is correct in saying that Obama has not come forward and talked about ownership issues. And this groundswell support, well it all depends on who you listen to. The fact is, you can, uh, get Rush Limbaugh on 600 stations across the country and let's tell it like it is, the company that owns those stations own his program and the company that syndicates his show. And Limbaugh is nervous as hell that if Obama were to ever push forward with the FCC to break up major ownership groups in this country and diversify the ownership amongst the little guy and have some ownership rule restrictions in major markets, it would be a little bit different world for Limbaugh. He wouldn't be on 600. And so if this isn't protecting your own backside and then hiding under the banner of the free market. Rush, you're just a fraud. It's about you, it's about you saving your hide. And the fact is, the company that owns you and forces your program on stations. I know! I managed one of 'em! In KFGO Fargo I was told to carry Limbaugh. (Schultz then speaks as if in conversation) What are you talking about? We're live and local. No you're not, you're carrying this.

Just how much of a grudge Schultz harbors from that bitter day in Fargo became apparent with his first caller on Friday. The caller identified himself as a conservative and resident of New York City --

CALLER:  What they're trying to do is, they're trying to like, the liberals always like to say, well they have the back-door draft, it's a back-door way of drafting people. This is a back-door way of silencing a voice that you just don't agree with and don't want to listen to.

SCHULTZ: Curtis, do you really think, do you really believe that there are people in the Congress that want to take Limbaugh off the air and Hannity and all the people that you just named? You really think they want to silence those voices?

CALLER: Yes I do because ...

SCHULTZ: Wow! Well let me just tell you something my friend. Wait a minute, wha, wha, wha, wha. I just want a yes or no answer. You actually think that there are people that have been elected to go represent the people, that are in Washington, that want to take the microphones away from the broadcasters that you just mentioned?

CALLER: Yes I do.

SCHULTZ: OK, thank you for your honesty. Curtis, nothing could be further from the truth. You're buying the propaganda ...

CALLER: No, no ...

SCHULTZ: ... No, you are, you're buying the propaganda.

CALLER: Ed, like I said, I listen to you. As a conservative I listen to you ...

SCHULTZ: Forget me. Please!

CALLER: ... Morning Joe ...

SCHULTZ: OK, ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! HO! Ho! Stop it! I know who you listen to, you told me that. I'm trying to get to the meat of the issue, Curtis. You're telling me, you're telling me that you think that the quote, liberals in Congress, are trying to determine who gets to hold a microphone in front of the American people. You are absolutely off your freakin' rocker!

CALLER: No! There's a lot more of us out here that believe it!

SCHULTZ: No! Yeah! Because you've been coached to say it!

CALLER: No! No ...

SCHULTZ: There is not one bit of evidence out there that, that lends you to believe that Barack Obama is trying to take their microphone.

CALLER: No. I've listened to, you know, now Hillary Clinton had a nice thing to say about Fox News. She said during her campaign, Fox News was the only ...

SCHULTZ: You're changing the subject! (crosstalk) You're changing the subject! I am ...

CALLER: ... that was fair and balanced ....

SCHULTZ: .... (crosstalk) Curtis, Curtis, Curtis, Curtis, Curtis, I'm not going to let you get through with this crap. We're going to stay focused on the issue of the Fairness Doctrine. And we're going to stay focused on what the drugster wrote in the Wall Street Journal and I've asked them for equal paragraph time, OK, or space or whatever the hell they call it.

CALLER: OK ...

SCHULTZ: Rush Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh is saying that he, he wants the president to come out and make a statement that he is against the diversification of ownership. Rush views that as a threat. Now why does he view that as a threat?

CALLER: It's a back-door way of silencing him.

SCHULTZ: You're not answering the question. It's not a que-, why, so you're telling me that you think that because there are some people that want diversification of ownership, that that's going to shut mic-, Rush's microphone off?

CALLER: Why do we need diversification? Why do we need to punish people ...

SCHULTZ: I'm asking you the question!

CALLER: ... for doing good?! Why do you want to punish these people for doing good?

SCHULTZ: I'm not punishing anybody! I'm trying to get to the meat of the argument here! The fact (crosstalk), so you, so wait a minute, wo, wo, wo! Curtis! If you think Rush Limbaugh is so good, if you think Hannity and these other nitwits that you named are so good, what difference does it make who owns it? Hell, if they're that good, they're going to pick the best programs, right?! So what do ...

CALLER: Why do you have to ...

SCHULTZ: Answer the question!

CALLER: Why do you have to break up the radio stations? Why do we need to ....

SCHULTZ: No, no, no! Curtis, don't answer my question with a question ... (crosstalk) ... Don't answer my question with a question (crosstalk) Have some respect for the conversation! (crosstalk) Curtis, do not ramrod this down. This, you're embarrassing your side, my friend (crosstalk) You're embarrassing your side. Yes you are ...

By now Schultz and the caller were talking over each other and Schultz, exasperated at being on the losing end of an argument, ordered his producer to prevent the caller from speaking --

SCHULTZ: Turn him down. Turn him down. I'm trying to work with him. All right. Now we can listen to one person and then Curtis I'll let you talk. I didn't mean to do that. We're not cutting you off, we're just turning you down, no one can hear you right now. I want you to answer this question. If you think that Rush Limbaugh and the rest of these nitwits with their, right wingers that have microphones, if you're so confident in their ability, why are you afraid of having multiple, I mean multiple owners out there in the media world where one person or one conglomerate doesn't own a bunch of stuff in a market? If you're so confident in their talent, why wouldn't you be confident that the diversification of ownership would want to carry their programs? I'll give you the answer and then we're moving on. 

CALLER: I just don't like the socialist ways of, you know, breaking things up, punishing people for doing good. Here's someone who owns 600 stations. Why can't he? Why can't someone else go out there and own their own stations and let people like you on? I don't feel that we should break things up.

SCHULTZ (post-hyperventilation): There's your answer. There, there, OK. You, you ...

CALLER: I'm not a socialist.

SCHULTZ: You, you, you think, you think that it's socialism to have the airwaves, uh, owned by a lot of people?

CALLER: I feel that if you want to break up somebody's business, why does the government have to be involved in every single people? You want to go after people? Go after the Hollywood elitists. I can't take my family out to a movie ....

SCHULTZ: Changing the subject again, Curtis (crosstalk) I won't let this audience determine whether they think you have a brain or not. Good to have you on the program. (Schultz hangs up on caller)

So much for having "respect for the conversation."

Most insipid part of the exchange? (agreed, much to choose from) When Schultz asked the caller why Limbaugh views so-called "diversification of ownership" as a "threat"? The caller's bulls-eye response -- "It's a back-door way of silencing him." Schultz's doofus retort? "You're not answering the question." Sure he is, Ed. You just don't like the answer.

How about this from Schultz after turning off the caller's audio -- "We're not cutting you off, we're just turning you down, no one can hear you right now." Not to worry, though, all in the name of fairness. And henceforth, callers are forbidden from answering questions with a question. Some radio hosts find this taxing.

After all, it's up to self-imposed arbiters like Schultz -- and not his audience -- to determine whether people like Curtis "have a brain or not."

I've been listening to Schultz on a regular basis for more than a year and haven't heard him this unhinged since McCain's selection of Palin brought out Schultz's inner Neanderthal.

The exchange did serve a useful function, however. Schultz has denied for months that he supports bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. Instead, he wants it reimposed through covert means such as "diversification of ownership." Not only has Schultz helped Limbaugh make his case by demonstrating the censorious underpinnings of the Fairness Doctrine, Schultz has proven who the real phony is.

Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts