Ed Schultz Daintily Tip-Toes Around Mark Levin's Threat of Litigation for Libel
A gift suggestion for liberal radio host and MSNBC action hero Ed Schultz's next birthday -- a copy of John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage," preferrably illustrated. Maybe some of its narrative will rub off.
Schultz was unintentionally hilarious on his radio show Friday in describing conservative radio host and author Mark Levin's vow to sue "anybody who accuses me of inciting mass murder in Tucson." First, here's more context on what Levin said, as described by NewsBuster Noel Sheppard on Jan. 14, with audio --
[Audio clip of Schultz after page break]
Now I'm going to tell you something. Maybe I shouldn't, but I will. I'm waiting for an allegation that is very specific against me because I'm going to sue. I don't care if they're bloggers, I don't care if they're television hosts, I don't care if they're radio hosts. I'm going to drag your ass into federal court. Oh, you'll have due process. It'll all be nice and legal. I'm going to personally depose you. I'm going to drag you in front of a jury, and I'm going to get your assets.
Somebody has to stand up to this. Somebody has to draw the line. Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough -- test me. Test me. David Frum, you little weasel, test me. All of you.
I believe in the law. I believe in free speech. I believe in responsible speech. Now, you want people to tone it down? Okay, good. Anybody who accuses me of inciting mass murder in Tucson, Ariz., is going to be sued. Period. I don't mean, "Oh, his rhetoric is incendiary," I don't. Anybody who tries to tie me to that monstrous event.
I'm going to tell you why. When you get behind this microphone every day, and you speak from the heart, and millions of people are listening, and family and friends, they're listening too, they're affected by all these things. Now, I'm a public figure. I'm a big boy. I can handle this. The question is whether these other boys can handle it. You think I'm kidding? Try me, because I'm not kidding. The laws of libel are actually older than the First Amendment.
Notice how Levin mentioned six people he was specifically, dare I say it (yes), targeting -- Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Joe Scarborough, all employed by MSNBC, and former Bush speechwriter/author David Frum.
Oddly enough, Schultz could bring himself to name only one of the people cited by Levin -- Chris Matthews -- while never mentioning that Levin also warned Schultz of possible litigation. In an equally telling omission, Schultz refrained from mentioning Levin by name, thereby leaving many of his listeners scratching their heads as to the identity of the person issuing the warning.
Here's what Schultz said in response to Levin, according to Brian Maloney posting yesterday at The Radio Equalizer, as can be heard in the clip embedded here --
There's a radio talker at night who's threatening a lawsuit over comments by a host on MSNBC. (laughs) It's reduced to just an elementary school challenge and it's got a dollar amount to it, which I find hilarious. The guy clearly is envious of anybody who's got a television show and he thinks he's a TV critic. At least that's what our emailers tell me. I don't listen to the guy but his rabid listeners and followers, I guess, email me some hateful accusations, (in mocking voice) You really said this?! You know, how dare you?! And it's, look, it's sheer entertainment. You know, every right-wing th-, (thug?) talker in America gets on Fox, it seems like, except this guy. But anyway, he's got a wimpy voice, he really has no range or skill, he's come in on somebody else's coattails, no innovation. He's just, all of his material is supplied by right-wing bullet points, the way most of 'em operate over there.
So he's gonna sue. He's threatening to sue Chris Matthews! (guffaws) He's threatening, you know, I tell you what, this freedom of speech thing, for this righty talker it's just gone over the line. But it's another classic example of somebody trying to make it about them. Just like Sarah Palin does. (mockingly) Oh, he's got the legal system behind him. Fact of the matter is, this guy couldn't carry Chris Matthews' briefcase and it's absolutely funny, he's gonna sue. (laughs)
Later in the same hour Friday, Schultz spoke with talk-radio consultant Holland Cooke, a frequent guest on Schultz's radio and TV shows. In an even more stirring example of stalwart liberalism, Cooke wouldn't go near Levin's threat of legal action after Schultz brought it up --
SCHULTZ: What do you make of this nighttime talk-show host claiming he's going to sue Chris Matthews on MSNBC? (chuckles)
COOKE: Oh please, video the depositions! (laughs)
SCHULTZ: Yeah, yeah, it's, everybody's trying to inject themselves into the national conversation. That's really what that is, hey, what about me over here, you know?
COOKE: You know, we had a real back-to-back juxtaposition the other day, within hours, Sarah Palin and the president each gave us their take on this. ...
And this was the extent of Cooke's take on Levin's warning, with Schultz again careful to avoid mentioning Levin by name.
In case you're reading this, Ed, brace yourself before you see what I've written next .... boo!