Revisionism Run Amok: Ed Schultz Claims Arab Spring Began in Wisconsin

There are lies, damned lies, and what passes for history from Ed Schultz.

Never one to let reality intrude on his delusions, Schultz cut loose with a whopper on his radio show Thursday while talking with Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, about Time magazine making "The Protester" its annual person of the year (audio) --

SCHULTZ: I see that Time magazine, we did a story on this last night (on MSNBC's "The Ed Show), Time magazine has named "The Protester" as the person of the year.

TATE: Yup.

SCHULTZ: And they talked about the uprisings in the Middle East, and I just had to get a little line in there, folks, it started at the capital in Madison, Wisc.

TATE: Yup.

SCHULTZ: It really did. There were, there were protests there before they were anywhere else worldwide.

Nice try, Ed, but some of us possess memories that extend back longer than the calendar year.

The protests in Madison against Gov. Scott Walker's push to limit collective bargaining by public workers did not begin until mid-February -- two months after a Tunisian fruit vendor killed himself by self-immolation on Dec. 17 and ignited upheaval in his country. Only weeks later, on Jan. 14, Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali resigned and fled the country.

This was followed in short order by revolt in Egypt against its leader since 1981, Hosni Mubarak. By early February, Schultz was focusing on Egypt every day on his radio and television shows, to the point that he told his radio listeners on Feb. 7 that events in Egypt made it difficult for him to focus on jobs and the economy.

It was not until mid-February that the battle over public sector unions in Wisconsin began. On Feb. 16, some 15,000 anti-Walker protesters turned out in Madison and Schultz announced he would broadcast "The Ed Show" from the Wisconsin capital on Feb. 17, which he did.

By then, Mubarak had been ousted from power. In other words, the public-union protests in Wisconsin that Schultz claims precipitated the Arab Spring did not begin until two Arab leaders had already been toppled.

In his feeble attempt at mythmaking, Schultz made a second claim that was demonstrably false.  While talking with Wisconsin Democrat Mike Tate about a segment on the previous night's "Ed Show" about Time magazine dubbing "The Protester" its person of the year, Schultz claimed that "I just had to get a little line in there" that the uprisings in the Middle East "started" in Madison.

"A little line" so small it's non-existent. Here is a link to a YouTube clip I made of the segment in its entirety -- and nowhere does Schultz make the dubious claim about pro-union demonstrators in Wisconsin fomenting upheaval in Arab countries.

Schultz did, however, quote from Time's cover story on its person of the year (audio) --

Well, Time magazine had a slightly different explanation of why editors chose "The Protester" as the person of the year (Schultz here alluding to criticism of the decision on Fox News) -- "No one could have known that when a fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn't just voice their complaints; they changed the world."

Even while quoting Time magazine, Schultz gets it wrong -- the quotation referred to a "Tunisian" fruit vendor. In Schultz's retelling, the man was reacting to events in Wisconsin that wouldn't occur for another two months. 

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