Randi Rhodes: Ed Schultz Received Startup Money From Senate Democrats

Many liberals claim that Rush Limbaugh was bought and paid for by the Republican party. Not true especially since they couldn't afford him.

However, what is true according to a source is that the new veracity-challenged MSNBC host, Ed Schultz, received cold cash from the Senate Democrats in order to launch a national radio show in an effort to counter Limbaugh.

And who made this assertion? Some conservative antagonistic to self-professed liberal Schultz?

Nope. This claim was made by leftwing former radio host Randi Rhodes.

In 2005 Randi, during a C-SPAN interview with Brian Lamb, claimed that she was present when the money was offered. Here is an excerpt of that transcript from the Radio Equalizer:

BRIAN LAMB: Go back to the meeting, how long were you there?

RANDI RHODES: Where?

LAMB: With the Senators?

RHODES: I think they gave me an hour or so. And it was very – we ate lunch, which of course, I didn‘t eat, because I was terrified. But 30 Senators showed up. I was amazed. For me it was like, I kept saying, when I got on the air, I talked about it and I said it was like being at Walt Disney World. Do you ever got to like the good Disney hotels in Disney and you see your favorite characters? Like Mickey comes out and Donald comes out. I go, well I watch C-SPAN, so like these are my characters – these are my TV characters. And it was like, you know, here comes (INAUDIBLE). And you know, let‘s face it a lot of Senators aren't recognized by people.

I was going oh my God, that‘s (INAUDIBLE). Oh my God, that's Dick Durbin. Oh my god, that's Dorgan. Oh my God, that's Tom Daschle. Oh my god, and, you know, everybody knows Hillary, obviously, she was First Lady of the United States. But how many recognize Barbara Mikulski and know that she makes a mean crab cake.

You know, so it was fantastic. I was too nervous to eat. I guess they liked me. And so then they organized a lunch at Mary Landrieu's house. And I was invited to this lunch. And again, it was, you know, democrat senators with an interest in media and getting our message out. And they thought that – they had had 30 people that they had spoken two, and it came down to two that they really liked and thought could do it. And it was me and this guy at Schultz.

LAMB: From North Dakota?

RHODES: Yes. And he was there because Daschle was scared.

LAMB: He's South Dakota, but he's from that area.

RHODES: Yes, I do that too. Anyway, I …

LAMB: And they were going to select one of the two of you?

RHODES: They were – I don't know exactly what the plan was, I do now. I didn‘t that day. And all I know is that Ed got up and he made this big presentation. And then they looked at me and I thought was just there to have lunch. And I remember being terrific. I don't like public speaking, all that much. It‘s weird with people, you know, I'm so used to my little cubicle.

And so I remember, I didn't even get up to the front of the room, I was too scared. I was sitting next to Senator Durbin who's very funny. I mean he was – he had me entertained the whole lunch. On the other side of me, I won‘t say who it was, it wasn‘t a politician, there was a man who explaining my lunch to me, like oh you poor sweet little country mouse, you won‘t understand the fancy Washington food. This is squash.

LAMB: In the Senate?

RHODES: No. It wasn't a politician.

LAMB: This is Mary Landrieu's house.

RHODES: It was at her house. It wasn't a servant either. It was an invited guest. And he was saying OK, this is a squash, and in it is squash soup. And they just serve it in the squash. And I was like, I was so insulted, plus I was nervous. And then all of a sudden I hear my name, and applause, and I‘m like so I put my knee on my chair, and I just – I stood up and I was like I was shaking. I didn't even know what I was supposed to be talking about. And the next thing I know I hear 250, 350. I hear and I think they‘re giving dollars, a silent auction, a charity. You know, they‘re giving to rescue aid. It turns out it was 250,000, 350,000.

LAMB: So these are business people in the…

RHODES: What it was, it was the best donors that the Senate could find for me. And this is the way Washington operates, so they were being kind.

LAMB: Did you like that when you saw that all of that?

RHODES: I hated it. I actually got on the air, and said I feel like I just got off the Amistad. I feel like I‘ve just been on the slave auction block. Now I know what it feels like to be auctioned off.

LAMB: What were they going to do with the money?

RHODES: They were going to start a syndication for us. They were going to give us, you know, the money we needed to start it up.

LAMB: And Ed Schultz  is now on Air America.

RHODES: He took the money. I actually gave him the money that day. I stood outside. I did my broadcast in Washington that day. And I went downstairs and I said, you can have it. Whatever they raise, I don't want it. I‘m just – first of all I‘m not going to be mouthpiece for the party. I don't agree with a lot of the things that they say and do. And I need to be free to say so. I don't walk – I'm not a Republican. I‘m not a trained sheep. I‘m not a lemming. I don't just follow.

Since Brian Craig, co-host and producer of the Steve Kane Show in South Florida knew Randi Rhodes well when she was broadcasting down here, I forwarded this information to him for his input. You can hear Craig's analysis on his radio show earlier today about Randi's assertions about Ed Schultz here. A few of Craig's observations:

...This was a dog and pony show. They had already picked  Ed Schultz and they had Randi there. They didn't tell her where she was supposed to be and she probably wasn't dressed properly. Knowing Randi she was probably wearing jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers like I would normally do. And they thought that she was too lowbrow for them and Ed Schultz came up and gave  a whole business plan for syndication and they picked  Ed Schultz.

...They got this guy on who is really just a mouthpiece according to Brian Lamb and Randi Rhodes at C-SPAN. He is a paid mouthpiece for the Democrat Party. That's what they hired at [MS]NBC News.

As for Randi Rhodes... She seems to have been MIA ever since losing her radio show several weeks ago. Perhaps it is time to put her picture on milk cartons.

UPDATE:  Randi Rhodes' account of how the Senate Democrats provided the startup money for Ed Schultz is backed up by this 2006 Los Angeles Times story via the Radio Equalizer:

The show, in fact, was born three years ago with $800,000 in seed money raised by Senate Democrats looking for someone to push back against the relentless attacks from Limbaugh and other conservative talkers on then-minority leader Tom Daschle. Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, Gary Hart and other noted liberals had failed to crack the talk-radio format, which seemed destined to be dominated by conservatives. When the search committee turned up Schultz, he offered a theory why the others had fizzled.

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.