MSNBC viewers in February were treated to a rare sight: An anchor disagreeing with the accepted liberal position on an issue. Ed Schultz publicly came out in support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline; on his February 5 program, he even lectured progressives to "confront reality" and support construction. Well, that didn't last long. On March 4, Schultz compared Keystone to the Vietnam War and wondered if it was as "bad." [MP3 audio here.]
The host began his program by recounting how protests against the Vietnam War started small and grew to an estimated 500,000 in 1969. Schultz compared, "Is the pipeline that bad?" After noting that only 400 people came out to rally against Keystone, Schultz connected, "I don't know what it's going to take to stop the pipeline and get the message to the President of the United States." With a picture of Vietnam protests behind him, he concluded, "But for reference, this is what we had to do to stop war."
Schultz sounded like a zealous convert:
ED SCHULTZ: So all of these folks across the America who want to stop the pipeline, you're in the 11th hour. I think it's great that there are 80 campuses across the country that have mobilized some protests, but this is what I think has to be done. That's how big big oil is. This is how strong the multi-nationals are.
Yet, on February 5, the MSNBC anchor sounded quite different, lecturing his audience:
SCHULTZ: On Twitter, Deborah on Twitter wrote, "it's about climate change. We need to stop all oil and gas extraction." Well, my response to that is the hard cold truth is the United States is an oil and gas dependent country and we're going to be for the foreseeable future. And I think it really is a disservice to the conversation and the debate to take an all-or-nothing approach to this. We're not really confronting reality here.
On his February 7 radio show, Schultz explained his new discovery: Liberals can be mean when you disagree with them:
SCHULTZ: There's one thing I've learned this week is that liberals can be just as mean as conservatives. I hate to say that, I hate to report that, but it is just I find it absolutely amazing, the all-or-nothing crowd is out and about for my head because of the pipeline story
SCHULTZ: I've kinda found out that I'm an American before I am a liberal. I'm an American before I'm a progressive. And if that's a sin against the movement, then I guess I'm going to hell.
To his fellow liberals, Schultz railed, "And I feel like there's people that have turned on me and, you know what, I know this is really brash but go to hell, you know?
Although the host hasn't officially rejected his own position, he's clearly decided it's not worth fighting with liberals.
A partial transcript of the March 4 segment is below:
ED SCHULTZ: When I was 11 years-old growing in up Norfolk, Virginia, the Vietnam War was rolling. Protests started to take place on campus at Old Dominion University. In fact, in Washington things started to get a little heated up. It was April of 1965, April 17th. There were 25,000 people who showed up to protest the Vietnam War. They wanted it over with. And then one month later, at UC Berkeley, in May of '65, there were 30,000 people. Well, fast forward to 1967, there were a hundred thousand people in Washington, D.C. who were protesting to get us out of Vietnam. It was a bad deal. Guys were dying. In fact we lost 56,000 Americans in that war. And it evolved to this, this day, November 15, 1969, that's what a half a million people looked like when they're on the mall in Washington, D.C. This is the largest anti-war demonstration in American history. Is the pipeline that bad?
I think it's fantastic that there was a demonstration on Sunday in Washington and there were 400 people. Maybe it's because of fax machines. Maybe it's because of the internet. Maybe it's because of iPhones, maybe it's because of text messaging and the information age. Maybe we're just a different society today. I don't know what it's going to take to stop the pipeline and get the message to the President of the United States. But for reference, this is what we had to do to stop war. So all of these folks across the America who want to stop the pipeline, you're in the 11th hour. I think it's great that there are 80 campuses across the country that have mobilized some protests, but this is what I think has to be done. That's how big big oil is. This is how strong the multi-nationals are.