Looks like this could be a rocky transition for Ed Schultz and MSNBC.
Ever since Politico reported "The Ed Show" would move from primetime weeknights on MSNBC to the network's barren weekends, bumping up against scarcely watched programming that consists mainly of reality shows set in prison, Schultz has insisted the shift is not a demotion. (Audio clips after page break)
Trouble is, his language gives him away, as it so often does. If what Schultz is saying is true, he wouldn't have to resort to such vitriol -- again, as he often does.
Here is Schultz on his radio show claiming he could not be happier with the move and then maligning Politico (h/t for audio, Brian Maloney at mrctv.org) --
Let me start it this way -- how much success does a guy have to have or a person have to have in his or her career before the wolves at the back door finally realize that all they're doing is howling at the moon? Something happens to someone or some change takes place in this industry and the culture is, it's negative. I'm speaking to not those that are tuning to see what I'm going to say about changing time slots for "The Ed Show" or anything else. I'm talking to the folks that know me, that have listened to this radio show for 10 years and I know you're out there and I appreciate it so much and I think you know I appreciate it. I have told this audience numerous times that I would never leave radio. Did I not do that? Have you heard me say that this show will not end, I'm going to tip over on the air, I'm gonna do it that way. That's the way I'm gonna do it. If someone else ends it, there's nothing I can do about it, but I am here on this microphone. OK, so that's what, Monday through Friday. Then there's the 8 o'clock show and then you add up the hours and it's 13-, 14-hour days. I'm not a spring chicken, I've got a lot of tire left, but I am 59.
How hard do you want me to work at this? Now, if this is all about the guy with the most toys wins, I've kicked your ass. No offense, I'm just, I'm not trying, I'm, I'm, I guess this is for some media people who haven't even had the courtesy to call me, but have come to the conclusion that there's some conspiracy out there or there's just something, ah, Ed is being forced to this, that and the other. Wait a minute, whoa, whoa, wait a minute! I have a say in this! This is "The Ed Show." This is the Ed brand. I'm not going to put it where I don't want it to be. And this is, uh, this is a step forward and I'm going to explain to you exactly why it's a step forward.
And in case you don't know what I'm talking about, we made the announcement last night that I will be leaving the eight o'clock show on MSNBC and the show will be moved to Saturday and Sunday from five to seven. And you may be thinking, well gosh, now add those days up, radio and TV, that's seven days a week. Uh, well, yeah, since when have I had a hard time working? Since when have I had a hard time getting out of bed, getting after it? Never. ... Now it ain't gonna be 14-hour days, it's not gonna be 13-hour days, it's gonna be a different workload. There's gonna be plenty of time off, I still got the fishing lodge. You think I'm nuts? The lifestyles don't change for any of us.
This is a good thing and I'm gonna tell you why as we move forward here. But I'm amazed at media vultures out there who think that they're gaining respect by people because they talk to someone anonymously. Politico, they're nothing but a bunch of freaking whores down there in Washington. That's all they are. They don't know their ass from third base and none of their people have talked to me. And you as a listener to this radio show, I want you to know that.
You'd never know it from Schultz's rant but the Politico story was based on Schultz announcing on the air that "The Ed Show" is moving to weekends. As such, it wasn't necessary for Politico's Dylan Byers to talk to Schultz -- Schultz had, in effect, already talked to him (and everyone else watching) through the announcement.
Byers also did not base his reporting on a single anonymous source, as Schultz claims. Schultz was quoted, as was MCNBC president Phil Griffin who predictably gushed that he was "thrilled" for Schultz and "happy to be expanding our weekend programming." Griffin further told that Politico he was "looking forward to having Ed's powerful voice on our network for a long time."
Byers pointed out that Schultz in making the announcement suggested he wanted to move from weeknights to weekends -- "I'm very proud of the work our team has done here at 8 p.m., but sitting behind this desk five nights a week doesn't cut it for me. I want to get out with the people and tell their stories. This show has been a show that has been a voice for the voiceless. That was really my mission when I came here and it remains."
Here is where Byers got under Schultz's skin -- "Sources at MSNBC told Politico that that was a very generous interpretation of events. Schultz was pushed out to make way for new talent, they said."
The programming shakeup, regardless of whether it was initiated by Schultz, did not come as a surprise. Speculation about a similar change surfaced last November after a New York Times story by Brian Stelter mentioned that Schultz could be replaced by MSNBC contributor Ezra Klein.
Schultz responded to Stelter's reporting in much the same way he lashed out at Byers (audio) --
Brian Stelter, is that his name? ... He's never talked to me. And if he were to talk to me, I would tell him that I have overperformed in my time period for the third quarter and on my way to do that in the fourth quarter of this year, which puts me in bonus territory. You know, money? I mean, that's how well we're doing at 8 o'clock. And so, I, I, I have never interviewed with the guy, he's never called me or asked me anything. I see that Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, has put out a statement saying that, uh, you know, we're OK! ... There are no changes planned! No changes planned! So I guess I'm on tonight?! I assume I'm on the rest of the week?! I assume that I'm on for as long as I can get you to watch. And this, in a sense, means that I guess I've arrived.
Translation -- I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Griffin.
True, Schultz isn't leaving MSNBC, not yet anyway and possibly not for years. But one can't help but wonder if this face-saving gesture by the network against one of their own who once threatened to "torch this f***ing place" wasn't done with self-preservation in mind.
Prediction: Schultz doesn't last six months on weekends at MSNBC. Two words on why it's a doomed venture, regardless of whether Schultz actually wants it -- football season. Schultz, not incidentally, is a former college gridiron star who once dreamed of playing in the NFL.