Ed Schultz on Talk Radio's Handling of Presidential Candidates

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 15, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Continuing now with this "Factor" special on how talk radio is handling the presidential race. Joining us now from Fargo, North Dakota, where the temperature is around zero, is syndicated liberal radio talk show guy Ed Schultz.

All right, so you heard the conversation I had with Melanie, and I'm going to ask you the same question. Where's the line, or is there a line at all in your presentation, or does anything go?

ED SCHULTZ, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, you know, I heard your discussion, Bill, and I think that you have to be sensitive to your listeners. And the debate in the country is they're sick and tired of the personal insults, at least my listeners are. You know, they want the facts, they want fairness, they want accuracy, and they want good discussion.

And I think that the progressive listeners are pretty well turned off by this most recent debacle between the Clinton camp and the Obama camp. So personally I stay away from the personal attacks, but I get accused by listeners of favoring one candidate over another. So you know how it goes.

O'REILLY: OK. Air America traffics in the personal attacks. That's what they did 24/7. It did not work. Did you learn from that? Were you appalled by what they did?

SCHULTZ: Well, you know, I've been in this racket since 1978. I've been around TV and radio for a long time. I've never based my career on how well I can attack somebody. I mean, we can be pretty creative when we decide we want to go after somebody. But I can't really say that I've learned anything from any particular network.

Of course I'm independent from them. I've got my own company and my own radio show that's independent, but I'm on a lot of their stations. Bill, I don't pay attention to other talk show hosts. I feel strong in my...

O'REILLY: The reason I asked that question is you said that your progressive listeners are getting fed up with the personal attacks. I hope that's true.


O'REILLY: But I'm hoping that maybe they saw what happened, because Air America did have an opportunity in this country, because as I said, most talk radio is right wing. They came on, in the beginning they were financed, they put on Franken and Garofalo, and all they did was lodge personal attacks after personal attack. It was monotonous. It wasn't funny. It was disgusting. And progressive people, obviously, didn't listen. Because if they did listen, it wouldn't have gone bankrupt, and they fled.

Now in this present presidential race, who are you for? Do you have a candidate?

SCHULTZ: I do not. I like them all on the Democratic side. And I'm in a unique position. I know Hillary. I know Barack. I know John. Those are the top three. I consider them my good friends, although I've been critical of all of them at one time or another.

O'REILLY: OK. Now give the audience an example, the audience who doesn't hear your program. Barack Obama, you've criticized him for?

SCHULTZ: Well, three-and-a-half million people do hear my program, and I have been very critical of Barack Obama for being — at times playing the race card. He's to watch himself on that. He's got to gain credibility that he can be really the change agent that he's presenting himself.

As far as being critical of Hillary Clinton, you know, the very nemesis that the Clintons have complained about over the years, talk radio, is exactly the vehicle that they're not using right now. And if you'll notice the Clintons started to get a little bit better in the polls when Hillary went out and said, OK, I'm going to start taking questions. What a 180 that was.

As far as John Edwards is concerned, I think his message is strong and he's got tremendous conviction. But I think he needs a little bit more material than just the "two America" talk.

O'REILLY: Well, we're still looking for all the veterans sleeping under the bridges, Ed. So if you find anybody, let us know. Because that's all the guy said for the last...

SCHULTZ: Well, they're out there, Bill. Don't kid yourself.

O'REILLY: They may be out there, but there are not many of them out there, OK. So if you know where there is a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it.

SCHULTZ: I will do that. I will do that. You have my word on that.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, who do you loathe in the presidential race?

SCHULTZ: Well, first of all, that is a pretty strong word. I can say I'm not a fan of Rudy Giuliani. I think Rudy is all about power and authority. I don't think he's about the people.

O'REILLY: OK, let me stop you there. So you think Rudy Giuliani is all about power and authority, and Hillary Clinton isn't?

SCHULTZ: Well, you asked me who I didn't like.

O'REILLY: No, no, but I have to challenge your statements. If you're going to judge Giuliani because you believe that he likes power — and I don't think you're wrong — how can you give Hillary Clinton a pass on it? It's the same power...

SCHULTZ: I think Hillary is very compassionate. I know she's compassionate. I know she cares about those who...

O'REILLY: OK, so she's power hungry with compassion.

SCHULTZ: And I am not convinced that Rudy Giuliani is.

O'REILLY: OK, so she's power hungry with compassion, but Giuliani is just power hungry, period. All right.

Now, so you don't like Giuliani. You think that he's in it for the wrong reasons.


O'REILLY: How far will you go on your radio program to dissemble the man?

SCHULTZ: Well, I don't consider this a personal shot. But I do believe your past — if you're going to be president of the United States — and your character has to be examined by the American people. I think a guy with a personal checkered past, such as Rudy Giuliani, in my opinion, is not qualified to be president.

O'REILLY: But then again you could bring the same argument back to the Clintons then.

SCHULTZ: No, I think Hillary Clinton is a very courageous woman for going through a very tough personal time and...


O'REILLY: I am not talking about that.

SCHULTZ: ...and making a decision.

O'REILLY: I'm not talking about that. I am talking about...

SCHULTZ: I'm talking about Rudy's...

O'REILLY: I know what you're talking about.

SCHULTZ: I'm talking about Rudy's personal life.

O'REILLY: OK. I also think that Rudy Giuliani had a terrible character judgment on Bernard Kerik. I think that disqualifies him from being president.

But if you're going to take one candidate and say, OK, I don't like one person's personal demeanor, the way he conducted himself in his private life, then you've got to apply the same standards to the others, that none of them are perfect?


O'REILLY: And you're going to get into all of that? They're not as outlandish as Rudy in your opinion?

SCHULTZ: They're not perfect, but they're not as outlandish as Rudy. Come on now. Rudy has been around the block quite a bit.

O'REILLY: Ed, I just want you to think about this. That's your opinion, and we respect your opinion, but some people might say with the travel, with the Whitewater, with all of these things, that Mrs. Clinton has been involved with, I am just saying, if you are going to get into one, then you've got to apply it to the other. It gets to be very dicey.

SCHULTZ: I believe that Hillary Clinton was totally exonerated on Whitewater, Bill, and you know that.

O'REILLY: I read the two books, the investigative books on her by Gerth and the other guy. I want people to read them and decide for themselves. Legally, you're right.

SCHULTZ: Well, from a legal standpoint she was totally exonerated.

O'REILLY: OK, but Rudy Giuliani from a legal standpoint did nothing.

SCHULTZ: Has been divorced three times, you're right.

O'REILLY: That's legal, even in North Dakota, sir.

Ed Schultz, everybody, give him a round of applause.

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