Ed Schultz Admits Use of Staged Calls to His Radio Show

Ed Schultz yesterday slammed Rush Limbaugh for doing something Limbaugh denies but Schultz admits doing.

In response to a story in Tablet Magazine about a "custom caller service" offered by Premier Radio Networks, a vast Clear Channel subsidiary that syndicates Limbaugh and other prominent conservative talkers, Limbaugh adamantly denied unsubstantiated allegations that staged calls were made to his show.

Schultz treated the allegations as factual while revealing that choreographed calls were made to his radio show when it was getting off the ground in 2004 (audio here) --

So, Limbaugh has got his back up because apparently there's some fake callers to his program and according to a recent report in Tablet Magazine, Premier Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel corporation, Clear Channel Communications, hired actors to call in as guests. Now I have to tell you, this has been done. It's been done on the Ed Schultz radio show when we first started. (laughs) But as we gained stations, we never did it again. Look, this is show business, although we venture into some more serious bidness as the world goes on.

But I remember when we started our show in 2004, and I have no problem admitting this, our business manager Vern Thompson at the time was the head of the Democratic Party in the great state of North Dakota. And a year after we started he joined our team here on the Ed Schultz radio show and has been with us ever since. And when we started on two stations, one in Langdon, N.D., and the other one in Needles, Calif., and we had about 500 people listening on the Internet, this was before we were on XM and Sirius.

I mean, let's face it, nobody knew who the hell I was or where we were from and guess what? There weren't any callers. And so what we did through my good buddy Vern who now works for the program? We used to have a few people call in. And it got to be kind of fun because I was trying to guess who the hell Vern was getting to call into the program. But we were trying to start a program. We were grassroots. And this happens from time to time, I think, with small radio stations across the country that are trying to create talk shows. And, first of all, I had no idea that Premiere Radio Networks hired actors to call in as guests. That's news to me.

Schultz claimed the staged calls lasted only the first few weeks of his show and none of the callers was paid (audio) --

Uh, by the way, we haven't had a staged caller to this program since, I think, the first three weeks of the show. But that's, I'm just being brutally honest with you, that's how it was started with us. And we didn't pay anybody. Hell, we didn't have any money.

Then came this revelation from Schultz (audio) --

Now the other story was is when this program started in 2004, there was a lot of scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill, was that, well, Democrats and liberals don't know how to use talk radio. They're just overwhelmed by the right wingers and we just don't know how to do anything when it comes to conversation. So there were, and I'm not going to reveal the names, there were a few Senate offices that got involved and got some interns involved and they started to survey and coach these kids up and a few of their communications people were coaching them up on how to call a talk show. And so, such was the birth of liberal talk. I don't know if they do that now. I don't know on Capitol Hill, I'm in New York, I'm not, I don't know if any of the Senate offices or House offices do that any more. I know they listen online, I know they watch "The Ed Show" on MSNBC and they do all the cables to see what the hell's going on.

Having just admitted his own use of staged callers, Schultz proceeded to condemn conservative talkers for doing the same, while neglecting to identify any (audio) --

I am shocked that there's a company out there that syndicates talent that also offers up the callers. So now here we are. Not only has talk radio taken its hit over the years about being just out of bounds and just entertainment and nothing valid, now you listen to a talk show and if it's conservative, because that's all they syndicate, if it's conservatives there's a pretty damn good chance that it's staged, it's a joke, they're walking you like a dog, it ain't real.

Do as I say, not as I did!

Schultz, who can't pass a day without obsessing about Limbaugh, said this about El Rushbo's response to the Tablet Magazine story (audio) --

I tell ya, Limbaugh going nuts over this fake caller thing that's going on, huh? I mean, it's like, where there's smoke there's fire. The very company that syndicates him has a call-in service. It's not about prostitutes or hookers. It's actually about callers. They have a call-in service and Limbaugh (laughs) is spending all kinds of time trying to explain, (in mocking voice) he doesn't  have anything to do with it, we can't make that up, these are wacko liberals that are calling, you can't script (weird repetitive noise). Geez, Rush, little thin skinned?

Well, it's a fact that the company does have a call-in service. And so now we have to trust someone who lied about his drug use, whether he's telling the truth or not.  So you just, you just, you know, you make the call! I mean, it's like that old NFL thing, they used to show a clip of a controversial play and, you make the call. Then they go to a commercial, then they come back and tell you what the hell really happened. (laughs) I suppose tomorrow we're going to get the version of, well, we did have one fake call once. (laughs) It's phony! It's just like it's always been phony!

So says the formerly phony radio host.

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