Poised to take over the 6 p.m. slot on MSNBC, long-time radio talk show host Ed Schultz laid out a programmatic blueprint that would be issue-oriented, intimate, and, above all, ideologically upfront.
"It is going to be about what the middle class in this country is concerned about," Schultz said of his program, "The Ed Show," in an interview with the Huffington Post. "It might not be about the hot news story of the day. But we will get to it. If I've got something to say, I'm going to say it. It is going to be a strong take, backed up with solid information, and it is going to have some analysis to it. And I'm looking forward to a show that will have a variety; not the same tune throughout the entire show. You can't be hard hitting for an hour. There has to be some light feature moments. And I can't make any bones about the fact that I want people to know where I stand on issues and what I deem to be important."
The hiring of Schultz, first reported on Huffington Post Wednesday, gives MSNBC its third anchor in the 6 p.m. post in less than a year. It also provides the network with a third prominent and unbridled progressive on its evening slate. And while the new lineup will likely give further fodder to critics who protest the network's increasingly Democratic lean, Schultz insists that his program will be different from Keith Olbermann's and Rachel Maddow's
"Well obviously my content will be different," he said. "Obviously my passion and my thoughts are my thoughts. My take is my take. So, formatically, there may be some similarities. But the personality is what sells on television and on radio."
"The Ed Show," he adds, will not be "pigeonholed" to "one ideology." It will include new and mainstream media analysts, conservative panelists, and focus on substantive, working-class issues, such as a Schultz passion: the Employee Free Choice Act. "That baby is made for television," he says of the union-backed legislation.
For a sense of where Schultz will fit in the cable news spectrum, one doesn't have to look very far. His three guest-host appearances on David Shuster's1600 Pennsylvania in March offer a peek at what he will try to do with the time slot. His radio program, "The Ed Schultz Show," meanwhile, is one of the preeminent venues for progressive commentary, leading to his description as a "gun-totin', red meat-eatin' lefty." If anything, Schultz has a knack for grabbing people's attention. As a sportscaster in North Dakota, his commentary was so provocative that in 2004 he was voted the #2 "Enemy of the State" in a Sports Illustrated survey, behind only then-Packers quarterback Brett Favre. While hosting the Ed Schultz show, meanwhile, his reputation was built as much on his sharp critiques of the Bush administration as for sounding loud bells on the plight of the working class.
"If you listen to my radio show, that passion is going to come out unto the TV screen," Schultz said. "And I think that would be a solid content and personality addition to the MSNBC lineup. I think I bring a mid-western passion to the issues that I think is going to be attractive to the network."
For now, Schultz will be broadcasting from New York City and not his longtime base of Fargo, North Dakota. He is open to eventually moving to Washington, D.C. The structure of the hour-long program is subject to change, he said, with the key being to find a "good pace" that resonates with viewers.
"One of the missions is to make sure that people at home get comfortable with me as a person," he said. "That they know that I'm advocating for what concerns them."
As for the competition, Schultz wasn't actually aware of whom he was going against on Fox News (for the record, it's "Special Report With Bret Baier"). But he was excited to be broadcasting alongside CNN's "Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer."
"There will definitely be a contrast in personality and presentation, there is no question about that," he said. "Wolf is a true journalist and a professional. But I will have access to the movers and shakers in Washington just like any other show. In fact I think I will put our lineup against anybody's."