Quote of the Day: What the Controversy Revealed About Ed Schultz and Laura Ingraham

Our political Quote of the comes from The Nation’s John Nichols who echoes what I wrote in my post yesterday about conservative talker Laura Ingraham accepting liberal talker Ed Schultz’s apology for calling her a “right wing slut” — which led to his one week suspension from his MSNBC show.

Here’s the first part of his piece and I’ve boldfaced the relevant sections:

Mainstream media in the United States does not entertain many voices from the great middle of the country. And those that do break through rarely maintain a residence in Minnesota or keep hunting and fishing in North Dakota. So Ed Schultz is a rarity. His nationally syndicated radio program and his nightly MSNBC show bring a distinct perspective to the debate, not just because the host comes from a different place but because the host in interested in different people and different issues.

Schultz focuses on the struggles of working men and woman and their unions. He goes where they live, to shipyards and warehouses and factories, to the scenes of mass demonstrations for labor rights in Wisconsin.

Schultz works hard, producing three hours of radio programming every day, along with an hour of television each night. Along with Fox’s Sean Hannity, he maintains a dramatically busier schedule than is common or expected of major media personalities. And sometimes, in the midst of all that talking, he says the wrong thing.

That happened Tuesday when Schultz was in the midst of a radio rant about right-wing criticism of President Obama’s European trip. Schultz was taking apart the conservatives who were attacking Obama for being out of the country when tornados were hitting Oklahoma and Missouri, noting that they had not been angry with George Bush for taking trips at similar points. In the midst of the conversation, Schultz said, “President Obama is going to be visiting Joplin, Mo., on Sunday, but you know what [Republicans are] talking about, like this right-wing slut, what’s her name? Laura Ingraham? Yeah, she’s a talk slut. You see, she was, back in the day, praising President Reagan when he was drinking a beer overseas. But now that Obama’s doing it, they’re working him over.”

In no time, the right-wing media monitors who have been dogging Schultz ever since he emerged as a rare and steady critic of corporate abuses and conservative privatization schemes, were highlighting the crude language. But they were not the only ones objecting; sincere critics of sexism in the media, many of whom had come to see Schultz as a friend and ally, also raised their voices. “Laura Ingraham is no friend to women, and while we disagree with many of her views, the type of language Ed Schultz used, whether accidentally or on purpose, has the effect of legitimizing sexism and undermines the credibility of all women,” explained Women’s Media Center president Julie Burton. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Schultz agreed, issuing one of the most heartfelt apologies ever aired by a television personality. Decrying his own use of “vile and inappropriate language,” he opened Wednesday night’s “Ed Show” on MSNBC by saying: “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. It was wrong, uncalled for, and I recognize the severity of what I said. I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness.”

And Ingraham accepted that apology, showing some class of her own by saying of Schultz’s statementt: “It seemed heartfelt, it seemed like he really wished he hadn’t said it, and I accept that apology.

I have known Ed Schultz for a long time, I have appeared on his radio and television shows, and I have written about the importance of the contribution he has made to the discourse. At the same time, I have spoken up for Laura Ingraham, whose savvy style and wry wit make her one of the better conservative talkers today. What Schultz and Ingraham have in common is that they both do good radio, and that can’t be said of everyone on the dial.

Here’s what I wrote which is worth repeating here since it fits in with Nichols:

UPDATE: Ingraham has accepted Schultz’s apology on Twitter. (Footnote: I don’t agree with her a lot of the time but I always liked Laura Ingraham and the way she did her program as a broadcaster. I’ve long felt Rush Limbaugh, Schultz, Igraham, Stephanie Miller were among the best left/right type radio talk show hosts in terms of broadcasting ability — which is not the same as a show’s ideological content or accuracy. Years ago I emailed Ingraham a compliment on her show and she responded in a way that I knew it was a personal response. If she was another kind of talk show host she would have prolonged Schultz’s agony and deserved humiliation over his language. His apology suggests he “gets it” and her Twitter suggests she also got it that he gets it. Also: I did a very long interview with Schultz that ran on TMV years ago before he went national. When we left Powerblogs that post was lost. These two talkers of different views have had radio shows I can listen to due to the way they pace their programs which aren’t as rip and read ideology as the vapid RNC unofficial p.r. man Sean Hannity’s on the right or unlistenable Mike Malloy on the left. I travel a lot and listen mostly to XM’s excellent POTUS show but if I get Schultz’s or Ingraham’s programs I can listen to these ideological talkers — at least for a while — even if I disagree with them which I often do. This may make me one of the few people in American who enjoys both of them on their less strident days.)

The point is: in a very unfortunate situation we learned something about these two talkers.

In taking off their radio personas and putting aside ideology to deal with the furor at hand, they showed themselves to be decent, caring human beings with a conscience: Schultz’s apology was anything BUT pro forma. And Ingraham showed the solid stuff that she is made of as well. As someone who once wanted to go into broadcasting, I used to be a talk radio junkie. But the pandering and polemics of much of left and right talk radio turned me into a zealous fan of XM Radio which gives me other alternatives when I travel.

But Schultz and Ingraham? Putting aside their ideological content, I’ve grown to respect some of their freshness and talent as skillful broadcasters and when I’m on a long drive and can get them on broadcast radio or XM, I listen. Nichols and I are on the same wavelength here.

In the end, we saw two human beings who revealed some admirable qualities.

FOOTNOTE: I have long felt that both Schultz and Ingraham come across better on their radio shows due to the looser radio format with more show time.