Monday, December 16, 2013

Ed Schultz is a Powerless Hypocrite

The public meltdown of MSNBC host Ed Schultz has played out exactly the way I thought it would--stung by criticism, Schultz reveals that he has no power whatsoever to actually pressure the people who pay him lots of money to create mediocre television:

To rebut criticism over sums paid by unions to advertise on his show, Schultz — after saying it was a “rather awkward thing for me to do, because it sounds rather grandiose” — ran through a list of donations he’d made to charity. Schultz said his the donations or commitments added up to $343,000. He told listeners he would not apologize for making “a hell of a lot of money,” and that “anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I – I show pictures of my airplanes.” He added, “Back when I was in the middle class, I owned a 172.” 

“There’s all kinds of envy out there on the left,” said Schultz. “I’m still there … Don’t be deterred by all of these people that are printing stuff that is flat-out lies.” He told listeners, “Well, now I’m a 59- year-old one-percenter. I’m not gonna hide it.” 

A self-identified conservative radio host called in to defend Schultz taking advertising dollars from unions on the grounds that “you endorse products” and “this is absolutely no different from that … All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Of course I advertise for these guys, I agree with them.” Schultz responded, “Well, that’s the best tip I’ve ever had from a righty … There is no question about it: they’re buying the audience.” 

Later in the show, when a caller referenced Schultz “talking about some other shmegegi[Yiddish for a fool] that was attacking you,” Schultz promised a different tack: “You’ll never hear their names mentioned again. Never. That was my mistake by ever just acknowledging that they breathe air.” (Full disclosure: I’ve appeared once on Schultz’s MSNBC show and a couple times, with a guest host, on his radio show.) When a Twitter user suggested that meant Schultz had “lost it,” Schultz shot back with two tweets during the show. First, “I refuse to waste my time on misinformation and lies..” Then, “is it fair to put up with lies and misinformation?”

Alec Baldwin gave a lot of money to charity as well and it didn't help him keep his gig, either. So what?

This is what it looks like when someone has a public meltdown. They find common cause with a political opponent and ratchet down the crazy. Schultz is crying out that he's the aggrieved party. That's wrong. The people who are aggrieved work for MSNBC and they work for a union. Schultz is too terrified of his employers, who have a long, proud history of punishing him, to say anything to support them.

Nobody envies his wealth; they abhor his inability to see that his wealth could be put to better use helping people to earn a decent living. Schultz doesn't understand the basic maxim of being classy about being successful--kiss down, kick up. Anything else is letting your ego get in the way of taking care of the people who make it possible to be wealthy in the first place. It's very telling that he uses the language of dehumanizing people who disagree with him. His statement that he shouldn't acknowledge that they breathe air is an indication that his anger has risen to the point where he wants them to stop breathing and not exist. This is a man who can't control himself when he's criticized. In other words, he's the classic hypocrite who enjoys screaming at others while he dabs his ample chin with the fine cloth of a privileged man.

I agree with Schultz on political manners more often than not. But that doesn't mean that his peculiar brand of hypocrisy shouldn't be called out, especially when it comes to supporting unions and supporting the rights of workers, which he has tried to tout again and again as what sets him apart from other opinion broadcasters. Now he has, to a large extent, been put through the wringer because he has no power to pressure his employers to deal fairly and honestly with the union employees who work for the same company that he works for. He cannot show solidarity with them--he'll be fired. 

So, like a cowed and beaten man who fears the loss of his extravagant "one percenter" lifestyle, he shuts his mouth when union workers need the support of his voice. If that's not being a hypocrite--if that's not the very face of being utterly classless and cheap about what constitutes standing for something--then what the hell does the word even mean anymore?

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