It doesn't matter if Ed Schultz donated all union speaking fees to charity as he claimed in response to a March 9 NewsBusters post, according to media critic and former CBS reporter Bernie Goldberg.
The pro-union Schultz was still obligated to tell his MSNBC viewers that he received nearly $200,000 from organized labor in 2011, Goldberg told Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly Factor" last night. (video after page break)
Schultz said he was paid by the unions for speaking fees and ads on his radio website, according to a Politico story that ran after the NewsBusters expose. That night on his MSNBC program, Schultz showed a copy of a letter from the American Cancer Society thanking him for a $100,000 donation.
MSNBC requires its employees to clear all speaking engagements with the network and donate any fees to charity, Schultz said. But Schultz was paid $199,900 by unions in 2011 -- and claims he donated $100,000 to charity. Schultz continues to duck a challenge from NewsBusters to substantiate that the remaining $99,900 was also given to charity.
When he began working at CBS News, O'Reilly said, the network provided him with a "big packet of information that said I couldn't take money from anyone I reported on. ... Have standards changed?"
Goldberg responded that if either of them took $200,000 from a union or corporation while they were at CBS and then ran stories, "presumably favorable stories about them, they would throw us out so quickly, Bill, we wouldn't know what hit us."
"So those standards haven't changed," Goldberg said. "What's changed is the media landscape. Ed Schultz and a lot of others on cable TV aren't journalists. We were journalists then. They're not journalists." Even though they sit behind "desks that look like anchor desks, they interview newsmakers, they talk about the news of the day, it sort of, kind of looks like journalism, but it isn't journalism."
Even though Schultz has a radio show and website that run ads, O'Reilly said, his work at MSNBC obligated him to inform viewers of his union payments. "Whatever he did with the money really doesn't matter because he didn't disclose during his commentaries, on the air, that are all pro-union, 100 percent down the line, that he received this enormous amount of money from this labor union. He didn't say it. So I'm saying to myself, gee, that seems to be a pretty flagrant violation of NBC News standards."
Goldberg said he agreed "it's wrong" but questioned whether Schultz broke MSNBC standards, which required him to get clearance for speaking engagements and donate speaking fees to charity. "That's their standard and they can have whatever standards they want," Goldberg said. "That is not my standard. I think at absolute least he has to tell the viewer that he's got a vested interest."
MSNBC's position is that if Schultz gave the money to charity, "there was no violation," Goldberg said. Regardless, "it's not a good policy. ... The audience has every right to know if I'm getting paid by somebody to say good things about them. They have every right to know that."
At the close of the segment, O'Reilly told his viewers it was NewsBusters that "first broke the Schultz story."
(h/t, Noel Sheppard)