The dysfunctional on air talent dynamic at MSNBC reared its ugly head as Ed Schultz, threatened to, “torch this [bleep]ing place,” after being ignored for the network’s Election Night promos. It seems the Ed is feeling little unloved and a bit jealous of Olbermann and Maddow.
According to the New York Post, a witness to the meltdown said, “Ed was furious the network was running election-night promos and he wasn’t in them. He’d been arguing on the phone with marketing, then he slammed down the phone and exploded. It was like Mel Gibson had entered the newsroom.” Schultz was then called to the carpet by his bosses, and according to a Post source was told, “‘If you do that again, you are fired.’ He broke down crying.” A different person at MSNBC said, “Ed never gets any attention and love, and he finally snapped.”
Everyone wants to hear from their boss that they are doing a good job. I think we all can relate to that, but these kinds of outbursts and expressions of frustration are getting more common for Schultz. He expressed frustration during his remarks at Netroots over Obama deciding to go his Fox News competition Bret Baier instead of his show for an exclusive interview.
The ratings show that Ed’s feelings are justified. He has moved up to being MSNBC’s third most popular show, behind Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. For example, on Monday, Schultz had 774,000 total viewers, and 235,000 in the demo, while Countdown had 1.098 million total viewers, and Rachel Maddow’s show had 797,000 total viewers. Since Schultz took over the 6 pm timeslot 16 months ago, he has routinely pulled more viewers than his own lead in of Hardball.
While the 600,000-700,000+ viewers that he brings in a night is not by any measure a ratings juggernaut, it is good enough for second place, and a vast improvement over the 400,000-500,000 viewers previous occupants of the timeslot, like David Gregory, and David Shuster drew, so Schultz probably should get a little more respect from his bosses, but threatening to torch the place is not the way to do it, and in most other lines of work would get someone fired, or even arrested if they said that.
When MSNBC launched his show the network had huge and unrealistic expectations for Schultz. They wanted him to be the next Olbermann or Madddow, but Schultz is on at 6 pm, not primetime, and he doesn’t that kind of talent. Ed should not expect the Olbermann/Maddow treatment, and while it seems that the MSNBC on air talent sibling rivalry has flared up again, it probably wouldn’t kill the network to tell Schultz that he is doing a good job, and thank him for giving them a bit of ratings hope at 6 pm.