It's one thing for Ed Schultz to march way out of lockstep with his MSNBC colleagues on guns. Today he accused one of them with getting it flat-out wrong in claiming that Schultz's remarks during a meeting with President Obama in 2011 were perceived by the president as disrespectful.
In his new book, "The Message: The Reselling of President Obama," Richard Wolffe, executive editor of MSNBC.com, describes a White House meeting attended by Obama and several prominent media liberals, including Schultz. At one point during the gathering, Wolffe wrote, "Ed Schultz sat listening to others opine before ripping into an impassioned plea for the president to stand up and fight. The 44th president of the United States listened calmly and nodded his head, surprising his aides with a meek appearance that successfully masked how little patience he had for such criticism." (Audio after the jump)
Schultz initially mentioned the passage on his radio show yesterday and came across as delighted that Obama had responded to something he said over the airwaves By today, after the excerpt received considerable media attention, Schultz lashed out and said "I'm pissed about it."
After reading the excerpt today, Schultz said this (audio) --
This, my friends, and you can put it to any media website on the face of the earth, this is a total mischaracterization of the meeting that I had with the president of the United States back in 2012 and in 2011. Let me point out, first of all, President Obama at the end of the last meeting that I had with him, which was back in December of 2011, gave me a personal note to give to my wife who was battling cancer at the time. So it doesn't sound like the president was pissed at me, does it? Put that aside for a moment.
Sometimes the president will call in groups of people to sit down and visit with him, like he had a business roundtable yesterday, or he'll call people in, he called in labor leaders last week, whatever. Sometimes he calls in progressive journalists and broadcasters and talk show hosts. Bush used to do it all the time, it was on the front cover of Talkers Magazine. This isn't out of the norm. So, on a number of occasions I've had an opportunity to be a part of a group of people that has lunch with the president while he explains the landscape and tells us some off the record stuff or whatever. And at this particular meeting that we had, the president, at the end of his talk, will go around the table. And when it came to me, the time that I believe that they're talking about, the president said, Ed, you haven't said anything. Do you have a comment? And I was the last one to speak. And this was, you know, at a time where, you know, the left was down, it was the end of the debt ceiling, whatnot, and people were wondering how this campaign was going to look.
And I said, Mr. President, you know, I think you gotta talk to the people who got you here to the White House. I think you gotta emphasize on the middle class. I think that those, those, those very people that are out there waiting for you, they're still there. And that's in a nutshell what I said. There were other people in the room, sitting right there. So Richard Wolffe writes, 'Ed Schultz sat listening to others opine before ripping into an impassioned plea for the president to stand up and fight.' That is a total mischaracterization of that meeting. And I don't know what the point was, but apparently the Washington Post characterized it as a tirade. I mean, this has just completely spiraled out of control. I'm getting beat up for it. There was no rant. There was no tirade. There was no engagement of negativity between me and the president of the United States. And quite frankly, I'm pissed about it.
And, you know, sometimes in this business you can't worry about who your friends are. You have to stick to the truth. What Richard Wolffe wrote is not correct. He is an accomplished journalist. But what he wrote about me sitting there listening to others opine before ripping into an impassioned plea for the president to stand up and fight, that is not what happened. And that is, that is a mischaracterization. And for the Washington Post to term it as a tirade or a rant is also a terrible misinterpretation and it's false! And I'm not sure if the New York Times did it or not, somebody told me they did, I didn't see that.
And this of course is coupled by the culture of these kids who work at these media websites that don't interview anybody. They just pick some morsel of information up and then put a twist on it and they're inaccurate! And then one headline leads to another and it's all BS! And so, why am I doing this? Because I've been doing this show for 10 years. And I have done town halls all over this country. And I would want all of you out there who listen to this show to know that I'm not a phony. And I speak my piece and I tell the truth and I do not want you to think that I disrespected a man who I have immense respect for and that is Barack Obama! And so I'll just leave it at that and the rest of you can kiss my ass, OK?
I know what happened in that meeting. And other people who were there know exactly what happened in that meeting. And I can tell you right now, I'm starting to boil on this even more, there was no ripping into an impassioned plea! It was a very, I wasn't ripping the president at all, nor was it a tirade, nor was it a rant. (gives out number for callers). You deserve to hear me talk like this. Because what's in the Twitter world isn't accurate. And the great thing about radio is that when you have a radio show and some BS comes up like this, you can just (chuckles) clear the air! You know what? The lines are open right now ... You want to call me and talk about this? Let's get it on, OK? Uh, I'm not going to go so far as to say Richard Wolffe owe me an apology, I'm, no, I've got a thicker skin than that. But I will tell you that this is an inaccurate depiction of the conversation.
Funny how Schultz boasts that the phone lines to his radio show are "open right now" and if anybody wants to call, "let's get it on, OK?" But he stops short of suggesting that Wolffe call him, or that he might call Wolffe. Surely they know how to reach one another, working for the same media outlet and all.
Notice also how Schultz refrains from accusing Wolffe of lying. What Wolffe wrote was a "total misrepresentation" and "not correct" -- but not, according to Schultz, an outright falsehood. And even though Schultz says he's "pissed" and "starting to boil," as for demanding an apology from Wolffe ... shrug.
Most likely explanation -- Schultz at that meeting spoke as he often does, in the form of an impassioned plea (other times it consists of bellicose braying). What others deem an impassioned plea, Schultz considers his usual tone of conversation. Never let it be said that Schultz isn't good with people.