MSNBC's Ed Schultz was in Madison, Wisconsin, last week predictably showing solidarity with protesting public employees.
On Friday, the "Ed Show" host badly misrepresented Governor Scott Walker's budget repair plan in order to bash conservative talk radio star Rush Limbaugh at one point asking, "Hey, Rush, why don’t you wrap your fat ass in the flag?" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s time for the Takedown. Bottom feeders? Free loaders? Those were words used today to describe our teachers, our nurses, and all of these hard working people standing right here with me tonight. Ironic, considering those words came from a guy making 50 million dollars a year. Yet Rush Limbaugh said today, "we are either on the side of the Wisconsin protesters or we are on the side of our country." He played a few sound bites from some of his fellow Americans here in Madison and he mocked them. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We have a montage here, protesters whining about what they want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I’ve been teaching for over 25 years and I deserve respect for what I do. And I don’t deserve to have my rights taken away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walker wants to take away my rights and everybody else’s rights.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We’re making history. We’re making change. It’s necessary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is like the ‘60s all over again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we’ve lost the sense of democracy. I feel like what people in Egypt are fighting for right now, that is exactly what I feel like I’m fighting for right now.
LIMBAUGH: What an absolute idiot. It’s a crying shame that this -- this -- this glittering jewel of colossal ignorance is teaching students, comparing this to Egypt. Most of us are more mature than to run around whining -- I want this. I want my dignity. I want my respect. And I want my this. And I want my health care. Well, go earn it. It’s not about what you want. In your case, it’s about what can be afforded. Trying to make themselves out to be oppressed. Not in Egypt. Bunch of people who feel entitled to be free loaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, Americans, we are at a crossroads in America. We now have come to the conclusion from the conservative right, admitted by the Drugster himself, that if you want health care, if you want a pension, if you want some guarantees, education and protection in the work place, that you’re a freeloader. Did you know that? Did you know that you’re a free loader? Did you know that all of these Americans are free loaders? Did you know that?
Actually, that's not at all what Limbaugh or most folks on the right are saying.
Wisconsin, like so many states, has a budget deficit. Of course, Schultz lied about that on his program Friday telling his audience their state has a surplus, but that's just the beginning of the dishonesty on display.
Much of the state deficits around the country are caused by exploding costs associated with employee benefits packages negotiated by various unions. In order to balance these budgets, governors and state legislatures must be able to address employee compensation or there is no way to fix the problem.
In Wisconsin, as a result of years of the unions there negotiating absolutely spectacular contracts, public employees currently pay virtually nothing for their healthcare plans and their pensions. To assist him in balancing his state's budget, the newly-elected governor, Scott Walker, wants to increase the employee's share of the cost to a level that would still put it far below the national average for public employees and even further below the national average for private sector workers.
But the public employees in Wisconsin don't want that, and instead have left their jobs, and in some cases the children they're paid to educate, to gather at the Capitol to protest.
This, in the view of Limbaugh and others on the right, makes them freeloaders, for they are refusing to make even modest personal contributions to help solve the budget crisis in their state.
To put this in further context, Wisconsin's MacIver Institute one year ago reported that the average Milwaukee public school teacher's total compensation when benefits are included is over $100,000 (h/t Michelle Malkin). Yet these folks are refusing to have any increase to what they contribute for said benefits.
Not surprisingly, Schultz doesn't care about any of that, and would rather excoriate those on the right that are actually telling the whole story rather than acting as advocates for the protesters:
SCHULTZ: I’ll tell you what bothers me about the conservative right. They told us on 9/11, we will never forget. They told us on 9/11 that we’ll be together, that we’re Americans. They wrapped themselves in the flag. And Limbaugh was right in the middle of all of them saying, we’ll never forget. You remember those hats? New York Fire Department? Do you remember those brothers and sisters? Now, didn’t they go into the Towers to try to save fellow Americans?
Well, you know what? Limbaugh thinks those people today are freeloaders. Yeah. Yeah.
Schultz was either lying again or demonstrating staggering ignorance of Walker's plan. As the Associated Press reported Monday, and as most people following this battle other than Schultz know, police, firefighters and state troopers are exempt.
Other than supporting their fellow union members, police, firefighters, and state troopers have absolutely nothing to do with this budget battle. Nothing.
Despite this immutable fact, Schultz dishonestly included them in his defense of the protesters.
As I asked Saturday, "Are there any consequences for blatant misrepresentations at MSNBC, or is it standard operating procedure?"
Apparently it's the latter, for Schultz, armed with out-and-out falsehoods, continued his attack on Limbaugh:
SCHULTZ: Now, maybe it’s understandable that a guy who tried to go to college but dropped out wouldn’t respect teachers. But I will say this tonight to America: if you want to follow the Limbaughs and the Becks of the world, and you want to turn your back on firefighters, you want to turn your back on police officers, you want to turn your back on nurses, you want to turn your back on brothers and sisters who have stood in solidarity to fight for the middle class in America, is that -- is that wrapping yourself in the flag?
No, wait a minute. No, no, no. The conservative right in this country, they say you’re nothing but a bunch of free loaders. That’s what they say.
Hey, Rush, why don’t you wrap your fat ass in the flag on Monday?
Actually, the question should be, "Hey, Ed, why don't you read Walker's bill Monday?"
Alas, as we learned during the healthcare debate last year, liberals don't like reading bills. They'd rather just pass them or comment on them without any real knowledge of the contents.
Schultz's employers must be so proud of the ignorance on display on their network every evening.