MSNBC’s ‘The Ed Show’ Lands With a Dull Thud

Edschultz During his days as strictly a talkradio host, Ed Schultz has often boasted about being able to out-drink and out-shoot conservatives — a big, boisterous lug of a guy who likes hunting and fishing and, oh, happens to be a liberal. Yet in the premiere of his new nightly (or on the West Coast, afternoon) program “The Ed Show,” Schultz also seemed determine to prove that he could out-populist, out-loud and out-stupid them.

Schultz opened his show with an eight-minute “op-ed,” during which the camera swooped and swirled promiscuously. It was difficult to tell if this was supposed to approximate the feel of a fun-house ride and create a false sense of excitement or if I was simply stroking out.

Actually, the answer is more basic than that: MSNBC clearly wants Schultz to be its Glenn Beck, countering the tearful Fox News Channel host, who’s getting so much attention (and impressive ratings) for his lunatic antics. Schultz fits the bill in some respects, being a plainspoken type representing the heartland who talks relentlessly about jobs and the middle class. What he hasn’t mastered yet — and presumably might with time — are the conventions of hosting a TV talk program, as opposed to a radio one.

Some of the opening-night glitches weren’t Schultz’s fault, like cutting to guest Larry Elder — the former L.A. radio host — getting his mic set up while Schultz conducted another interview. But everything else about the show screamed stupid (or perhaps more accurately, stoopid), including the relentlessly upbeat, hyper-caffeinated tone; the unchallenged pronouncements by the guests (radio host Lars Larson, for example, objected to President Obama suggesting that the United States isn’t a Christian nation); and the blunt, ham-fisted nature of the regular segments. One of them, dubbed “Psycho Talk,” allows Schultz to deride some comment by a well-known conservative (on Monday’s hour, Newt Gingrich), but Schultz never really articulated an argument, so it came across as little more than juvenile name-calling. Like there’s not enough of that in cable news.

Rachel Maddow has made the jump from radio to TV with a certain snarkiness, but her common attribute with lead-in Keith Olbermann is that both attempt to engage in policy discussions with a slightly elevated air. Whether or not one agrees with them (or appreciates Olbermann’s jabs at his time-period rival Bill O’Reilly), these are serious conversations with real journalists and decision-makers about genuine issues. (For the purposes of this discussion let’s ignore MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who is more than anything in love with the sound of his own voice.)

By contrast, Schultz seems content to mention issues — the economy, health care, North Korea’s missile test — while barely scratching the skin, talking to people coached to speak with the kind of speed and urgency normally reserved for the gameshow “$100,000 Pyramid.” “The Ed Show” might gradually right itself, but based on a first glance it looks like MSNBC has conspicuously stooped in its efforts to conquer.

MSNBC Postscript: Olbermann’s show closed on a poignant note, with a lovely tribute regarding the death of his mother. It’s always difficult for talent to address such deeply personal matters without sounding self-indulgent, but he managed to do so in an especially admirable and touching manner, and I send my condolences.

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  1. call me Roy says:

    I accidently started watching the “ED Show” on MSNBC today and after hearing these words come out of Ed’s pie hole “What is going on here?” and could not turn the channel for another three minutes.Then a list came up on the screen showing: 24% of Republicans think Obama is the antiChrist. Or, 37% of Republicans think Obama is a muslim. Then ED went on with his ranting, bla, bla,
    bla,….OK, ED, we get the picture. So Ed, maybe this tiny list will help open that brain that borders on genius, madness, etc.
    In one years time:
    We have the three Navy SEALs who face assault charges for capturing one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq. Why?
    President Obama appoints envoy Rashad Hussain to Islamic Bloc. Rashad Hussain admitted Friday to once defending a man who later pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid a terrorist group — an admission that contradicts earlier claims from the White House that the quotes had been mistakenly attributed to Hussain.
    President Obama appoints Ron Bloom, Manufacturing Czar who loves Communist Chairman Mao.
    President Obama appoints Anita Dunn, White House Communication Director who loves Communist Chairman Mao.
    President Obama appoints Valerie Jarrett who recruits Van Jones who loves Communist Chairman Mao.
    President Obama appoints John Brennan, National Security Deputy who thinks Gitmo jihadi recidivism is “not that bad.”
    President Obama appoints Rob Malley, Foreign Policy Advisor whose Camp David propaganda has also become fodder for Palestinians, Arab rejectionists, and anti-Israel activists across the world.
    President Obama appoints and gives The Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, an enemy of Israel AND the host and mastermind of the Durban Conference (anti-Semitic, anti-Israel). By bestowing of the Medal of Freedom on Mary Robinson it is a slap in the face to the pro-Israel community.
    President Obama appoints Daniel Kurtzer, State Department Official who blamed the Israeli response to terror attacks for “the radicalization of those Palestinians to violence”. He does not characterize the perpetrators as terrorists but as “guerillas”. accepts a false premise: that the Palestinian problem is the core of the conflict in the Middle East.
    President Obama appoints DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. Beginning with her embrace of the impotent euphemism “man-caused disasters” to the hit job on conservatives and veterans that she was forced to apologize for, to her assertion that crossing the border illegally, “isn’t a crime per se”, to her claim that 9/11 terrorists came in through the Canadian border.
    President Obama appoints John Holdren as Science Advisor. In 1977 Dr. Holdren and his colleagues Paul and Anne Ehrlich published the book Ecoscience. In it, Holdren and his co-authors endorse the serious consideration of radical measures to reduce the human population. The measures include: People who “contribute to social deterioration” (i.e. undesirables) “can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility.”
    President Obama stuns Christian leaders by having an ornament of the image of Communist Chairman Mao hanging on the White House Christmas tree.
    President Obama’s key financial backer, George Soros has made clear his goal to break the close bonds between America and Israel. Soros is a funder of the ICG through his Open Society Institute; Other members of the Board include Zbigniew Brzezinski (whose anti-Israel credentials are impeccable) and Wesley Clark (who called US support for Israel during the Hezbollah War a “serious mistake”.
    President Obama appoints Eric Holder, Attorney General who has been busy with H.R. 2159, the Disarming American Citizens Act allowing anti-gun Attorney General Eric Holder to revoke the Second Amendment rights of ANY American he chooses based on pure “suspicion”; A new so-called “Assault Weapons” Ban, H.R. 45, the “Catch-All” Obama Gun Control Bill, and The U.N.’s so-called “Small Arms Treaty,” which would confiscate and destroy ALL “unauthorized” civilian firearms and set the stage for INTERNATIONAL gun confiscation.
    A President Obama administration official, speaking to a group of reporters, characterized the Fort Hood shooting as “an act of terrorism,” the first time an administration official has used that term in describing the massacre. Asked repeatedly about the relationship between Hasan and extremists in Yemen, the administration official declined to make that direct link.
    President Obama spoke at Georgetown University on April 15, 2209 and Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS”–symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ—because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there.
    So Ed, my question to you is: “What is going on here?”

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