I haven't heard Ed Schultz this apologetic since he maligned Laura Ingraham as a slut and was booted off MSNBC for a week.
On his radio show yesterday, Schultz was talking with Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a deeply spiritual man indeed, about Pope Benedict's resignation as the sex abuse scandal continues to roil the church. (audio clip after page break)
Schultz mentioned that an aspiring pro football player, Nick Kasa, alleged he was asked at an NFL tryout if he's gay. From there, Schultz segued back to the church and asked a question he quickly regretted (audio) --
SCHULTZ: It's strange to parallel these stories but I'm going to do it. The National Football League is asking prospects at their annual combine if they're gay. NFL prospect Nick Kasa was asked by scouts about his sexual orientation at the NFL combine. Now folks, I don't even know if this is legal, OK? (laughs) But the NFL is, the NFL is its own society, you know, 32 of the wealthiest people in America own teams that everybody can't get enough of, so they're going to pick and choose who the hell works for 'em. (what's the country coming to when employers can do that?!) Would they be asking this kind of a question in a conclave to start cleaning up the scandals and the abuse in the Catholic Church? I mean, I, you know, what do you think, reverend?
LYNN (taken aback): Yeah, well, you know, it wouldn't even get to, even if they asked, that wouldn't be the question because to be gay is not necessarily to be a pedophile ...
SCHULTZ (interrupting): True, I, but you know what I'm talking ...
LYNN: ... and most of your listeners do. Sure, but no, they're not going to ask that because they, because they (let me think about this ...), this is not part of the kind of inquiry that's going to go on in making this decision. (Lynn changes subject). I think you're going to see another European pope. You're not going to see the first pope from Africa, you're not going to see a pope from the United States. I think you're going to see a hard liner, unfortunately again (you know, one of those religious types), who will not deal with these issues. On the NFL thing, by the way, since I also went to law school, it's an interesting question. It is a private entity, the NFL, but there are circumstances and in some cities, inquiring about sexual orientation could be the basis for, for some kind of legal action.
SCHULTZ (realizing he stepped in it): And I, and let me be very clear (which I'm not used to doing), I was not trying to in any way, shape or form infer (imply, whatever) that, you know, as you stated, you know, in cor-- (starts to say "correcting"), in clarifying what I said, I'm talking about the intrusive questions and, and I should have worded that differently. I mean, this is about, what does the conclave, which will make the next big decision on who is the pope, how intrusive should these questions be? Just as the NFL is asking intrusive questions about their, their, their force. So that's, that's where I was coming from.
LYNN (wondering why he came on show): Oh sure, no, I, and I just want to clarify ...
SCHULTZ (still flailing): And I apologize, I apologize, for, for that. And, you know, that's certainly not what I meant. OK, so, I mean, well, this should be a new intrusive process by, in the conclave! (providing they don't ask about, uh, you know ...)
LYNN (glancing at his watch): Well no, you should ask the right questions. You know, you inevitably get the wrong answers if you don't ask the right questions and what the people, including the ordinary Catholics, we have a very high percentage of members who are Catholics, I know that surprises some people (and many of our members occasionally even attend church) but lots of folks who are Catholic, they may be churchgoers, they may care very respectfully about church doctrine, some church doctrine, but they understand we're living in a pluralistic country and indeed a pluralistic world. And if the next pope is going to decide that the doctrine of the 12th and 13th century is the one that needs to be applied in the 21st century, in the United States and in every other part of the world, frankly, that horse has left the barn. That is over in most parts of the world.
SCHULTZ (deflated): Yeah.
LYNN: What he needs to be doing is to assert the moral authority, to take care, not just governments take care but the church itself, take care of the victims, take care of the victims not just of child sexual abuse but the victims of poverty and to make a commitment to do that. And to ask those fellow priests, cardinals and other authority figures at the conclave, what are you going to do not just about birth control, what are you going to do about world poverty? What are you going to do about the staggering difference between the wealthy and the poor all over the world? Those would be good questions. I'd love to hear those answers.Wouldn't you?
SCHULTZ: I certainly would. (slurred as "shertainly"). Rev. Barry Lynn, great to have you with us here on the Ed Schultz radio show, I appreciate your time.
As Schultz often likes to say, "I'm just asking the question." Something tells me he won't be asking this one again.