Laid-Off Auto Worker Schools Ed Schultz on Closing of GM Plant in Janesville

This wasn't at all what Ed Schultz was expecting.

On his radio show Aug. 30, Schultz asked listeners who live near the closed GM plant in Janesville, Wisc., to act as "fact checkers" and challenge claims made by Paul Ryan in his GOP convention speech about then-candidate Obama's visit to the plant in early 2008. (audio clips after page break)

Schultz repeatedly interrupted and talked over a woman who said she used to work at the Janesville plant, voted for Obama in 2008 on the basis of his stump speech there, and won't make that mistake again (audio) --

SCHULTZ: Elaine in Janesville, Wisc., you have the floor on the Ed Schultz radio show. I will consider you a fact checker.

CALLER: Oh yeah, I wanted to let you know what it was like for the workers here. In February of 2008, President, well President-elect Obama (not for several months) came to Janesville and he said that if he, if government were here and getting involved that he would help to retool the Janesville plant. And then the announcement was made in June of 2008 that in 2010 we'd probably be closing. We made trucks and large SUVs here. And in October of 2008, fortunately we hoped that President Obama would be leading the way to retool our plant and he said that he would like to retool it and make cars like the Volt and that because, you know, the problem was our wanting of production. And in December of 2008, they idled production of the SUVs but we continued with the trucks. And we still were hopeful that we'd be retooled and part of what was going on in Washington and in April 2009 we were still open with the truck production. And then that was stopped and we were still hopeful in 20- ...

SCHULTZ (testily interrupts): But where was President Obama? I mean, did you hear the speech last night from Paul Ryan? What'd you think what he said all that? (Schultz even less coherent when irritated.)

CALLER: Well, it is, I mean,  most of us that worked at the plant voted for the president because we thought he was going to retool our plant and he didn't. He just passed us by and ...

SCHULTZ: He wasn't in a position to do that, Elaine! (This from an apologist who frequently credits Obama with saving the auto industry.)

CALLER: Yes ...

SCHULTZ:  No, he wasn't.

CALLER: Yes, we were working, our plant was open in April of 2009. There was truck production.

SCHULTZ: No, no, no, wait a minute, back up just a little, back up ... (that's not what it says here in the DNC memo.)

CALLER: I was working there ...

SCHULTZ: You were working there but it was already targeted to shut down! He couldn't do anything about it! (Granted, candidate Obama vowed that the plant would remain open another century under his policies, but still!). They were on him about running the car business, he said I didn't want to be in the car business. He floated the loan and let GM go do what they had to do, OK?

CALLER: Oh no, no ....

SCHULTZ (refusing to let caller talk): So he, he had nothing to do, nor did he make any promises to any of the workers there, Elaine! (Pay no attention to that candidate behind the curtain!) You're buying the right-wing g-, you're buying the right-wing garbage!

CALLER: No, I was there for his, for, you know, we had a lot of things that were passed out ...

SCHULTZ: Are you a union worker?! Are you a union worker? (lemme see your pinky ring!)



CALLER: Oh yeah, oh yeah, of course.

SCHULTZ: OK. OK, can you your union steward to say the same thing you're saying?

CALLER: Oh yeah. You know,  probably, you know, you said you wanted to come to Janesville ...

SCHULTZ: Absolutely I do!

CALLER: So you should come and I think you'll be surprised that actually, really a lot of what, a lot of us have respect for Congressman Ryan. He's, he's, even though we're a Democratic state ...

SCHULTZ (again talking over the caller): Let's play the sound cut, let's play cut one here. Here is the sound cut (that I will use to keep you from talking). Let's play it.

RYAN IN CONVENTION SPEECH: He talked about change. Many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville where we were about to lose a major factory. A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said ...

SCHULTZ: Candidate! (There Ryan goes again, lying!)

RYAN: ... I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another hundred years. 

SCHULTZ: That's not what he said. (And I most assuredly won't quote what Obama said due to its awkward resemblance to Ryan's paraphrasing).  That simply is not what he said. Here is the release from the Bush administration on June 3rd of 2008 (Pay no attention to that candidate behind the curtain!), acknowledging that the plant was being targeted for shutdown and they praised General Motors for doing it! (And to prove my point, I most assuredly won't quote the press release either!). For doing it! Let me read (Schultz becomes tongue-tied, thinking twice about reading from press release), how do you deny a press release from the administration that had it happen on his watch? (Didn't you hear what I didn't just read?) How can you do that? (After this, caller not heard from again, presumably because Schultz dropped one of the few actual fact-checker calls he ever gets). Where was President Bush? Where were the Republicans with the plan to tell General Motors, oh my God, don't do that? You've got all these workers in Janesville! How in the hell can you put that off on President Obama?! I find, I find that just utterly amazing! Yes, I'm going to have to go to Janesville and I want to hear them say just that, that it's Obama's fault when he was in no way, shape or form the president of the United States! (Even after he became president!)

More evidence of how Ryan has gotten under Schultz's skin: during the same show, while Schultz was talking Democratic congressman Gary Peters of Michigan, Schultz said this (audio) --

SCHULTZ: It's the facts, folks, it's the facts. They're trying to say that President Obama campaigned there in February of 2013 (repeats 2013 twice before correcting himself) and promised that the plant would never close. That's really what they're trying to do. The closure of the plant was in the works and it was officially  closed in June of 2013, uh, in June of 2008, June of 2008, previous to that, February of 2008 is when President Obama went there. (And I'll do all I can to keep my listeners from hearing what he said.)

PETERS: Right.

SCHULTZ: He went there and spoke because there was so much conversation about it being closed down and he wanted to go talk to those workers (telling them how he would save their plant en route to healing the planet). Well, I mean, they put it on the fast track, I think, to make Obama look bad. Whether that has something to do with it, I don't know. But then for Ryan to come back and pin it on President Obama is amazing!

Vintage Schultz -- pontificating that "it's the facts, folks, it's the facts," then suggesting a ludicrous conspiracy theory, even by the expansive standards of the left.

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