Last week it was revealed that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union and the Communications Workers paid MSNBC’s Ed Schultz $190,000 for speaking engagements, which was categorized as “representational activities” by the U.S. Department of Labor. While not much has been made of it except by right-wing reporters, and the Politico website, should the Left question Schultz’s ties?
Obviously, this is nowhere near the level of monetary influence wielded by the right in any given situation, but it does raise the question of conflict of interest and ethics. Schultz has been a vocal supporter of union workers rights, but has never disclosed his monetary ties to unions, even while presenting union representatives on his program, and because of that fact, it brings into question the accuracy of his commentary.
Schultz defended the money he’s received:
Today a conservative blog posted documents filed with the United States Department of Labor stating that unions had paid Ed Schultz broadcasting nearly $200,000. Those documents are correct.
Several unions have, indeed, paid me for advertising for speeches. Some of you may have even attended those speeches. I’d like to invite you to my website, all of you who are watching tonight. Look at that Big Eddy’s North Country Lodge. Look at all that advertising on there. It’s at WeGotEd.com. Which is completely–I say completely–independent from and not affiliated with MSNBC. There you can see all the ads on the right side, some of them are products and services, some of them, yes, they are from unions. You know, they buy advertising.
In addition to advertising contracts, the documents show that I have received money for giving speeches to union groups and other organizations. The policy at MSNBC is any speech must get prior approval and any honorarium must be donated to charity of the speaker’s choice. I chose last year that all the money go to the American Cancer Society for the great work they do, and I have friends in that organization as well, and I will continue to do so.
Politico chose to headline their story, “Unions gave $200k to MSNBC’s Ed Schultz.” I want to emphatically state tonight nobody gave me anything. I work for a living. I run an independent business that’s called the Ed Schultz Radio Show, and it’s been very successful through the support of listeners and advertisers–it’s business.
While that explanation may appease some, it highlights the fine line walked by media representatives in this day and age, where there is no truly objective, independent media outlet in the mainstream – they’re either affiliated with the right or the left, which is a perversion of what the media is supposed to be.
Some will say that this isn’t a big deal, but it should bother everyone that media figures on the Left and Right are allowed to be monetarily influenced by either side with such ease.