Ed Schultz Radio Show Morphs Into Infomercial

Whenever I hear lib radio talker Ed Schultz introduce a guest, I wonder if the person is paying to be there -- seeing how many of Schultz's most frequent guests are advertisers on his radio Web site.

Mark Graff, for example, president of a company called Bio Green Clean, as in cleaning products. Since July 24, Graff has appeared on the Schultz radio show 13 times, most recently on Dec. 1.

Given such ubiquity, it's not surprising Graff might resort to hyperbole in making his pitch, as he did Sept. 17 (click here for audio) -- "Let me tell you, it cleans better than any product that's ever been created in the history of our civilization." (As our crack team of chemical archaeologists will attest ... and just look at that shine!)

It's not just Graff making frequent stops -- so has advertiser Ted Massinello, president of USA Coffee Company, appearing on Schultz's radio show 12 times since July 10. And advertiser Michael Moss, co-founder of Brooklyn Bagel Slicer, eight times since Aug. 14.

Two recent advertisers dropping by were comedian Peter Lipsey, three times in the last month, and Roger Simmermaker, author of  "How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism," twice since Nov. 25.

In fact, at least one advertiser has been a guest for every single one of Schultz's radio shows since Nov. 17 (except for rebroadcasts on Thanksgiving and the day after). On the day before Thanksiving, all four guests were advertisers -- as was guest host Norman Goldman, who just launched his own radio show. 

Not only are advertisers becoming fixtures on the top-rated liberal radio show in the country, Schultz rarely tells his listeners that the person he is interviewing helps pay his salary.   

This advertising strategy by Schultz appears to have emerged from a weekly segment he initiated last year but which rarely appears anymore. For an hour of every "Recession-Busting Friday", Schultz would take calls from business people across the country who would have a minute or two to pitch their products and services.

Schultz started the segment after the economy tanked in 2008 and continued it well into this year. But after the premiere of his MSNBC show in April, the segment aired much less frequently and, in lieu of that, paid advertisers began cropping up as guests. 

To Schultz's credit, proceeds of sales from one of his advertisers, USA Coffee Company, go to an eminently worthy cause. Three dollars from the purchase of every bag of Big Eddie's Beans and coffee mug are given to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, specifically to help soldiers wrestling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

But it is disingenuous of Schultz to suggest, as he did Nov. 11, that he doesn't benefit from the USA Coffee Company promotion -- "On this Veterans' Day, help out the vets. USA Coffee Company. You a coffee drinker? I don't get a dime out of this. I just want to see it happen for the vets." (here for audio)

To the extent the promotion helps USA Coffee Company sell its products, it helps the company remain an advertiser to Schultz, which most assuredly puts money in his pocket.

Another reason I find Schultz's practice of advertiser guest placement with accompanying non-disclosure so questionable is Schultz's penchant for vilifying those making money who don't share his politics. As Schultz railed on Oct. 26, "Everything's about the God-almighty dollar to these people." (here for audio)

More of that going around than Schultz is aware of.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts