By Advocating for the Middle Class, Ed Schultz Finds Broadcast Success Rare for Liberals

 By championing the working man and boldly standing up for the middle class and the unemployed, Ed Schultz has managed to find success where Progressives often fail. The Ed Show on MSNBC has grabbed ratings reserved for conservatives, and it's done so because Schultz gives a voice to the people yearning to be heard. 

As the Los Angeles Times reports, it's not easy for liberals to make it like Schultz has:

Liberal radio network Air America filed for bankruptcy twice during the six years it was in operation and closed shop in 2010. Before that, there was Democracy Radio, which folded in 2004. Current TV has been struggling for six years, even after snapping up anchor Keith Olbermann from MSNBC last year.

Part of the problem is that corporate advertisers are leery of buying space on liberal broadcasts that often attack corporate interests, noted Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College. In 2006, a leaked internal memo from ABC Radio Networks revealed a list of corporations that requested their commercials never be placed on Air America.

Good ratings will lead to advertising dollars — the left-leaning and highly successful"Daily Show"and "Colbert Report" are proof of that, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

But those shows appeal to younger liberal viewers with their sarcastic senses of humor, she noted; a broadcast rooted in a more conventional discussion of liberal views is a harder sell.

But Schultz 's 99 percent persona has appealed to viewers.  According to the LA Times:

This year through early February, Schultz's nightly viewership has averaged 608,000, a 60% increase from his ratings during the same period in 2010, according to Nielsen. He's surpassed Cooper, who airs in the same time slot, though he has more than a million fewer viewers than O'Reilly, who also airs at 8 p.m.

"Schultz has very intelligently aligned himself with the interests of large groups of people in this country who have not been spoken for," said Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers, a website and magazine that follows talk radio.

There's a rise in "liberal" broadcasting because there are more poor people looking for someone who talks to them, Harrison said.

Take Kelly Wiedemer, a 45-year-old living in Denver who was out of work for three years before finding a part-time job at a gas station. As one of the 99ers — people who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits — she says that Schultz was one of the only people she heard talking about long-term unemployment when the issue emerged in 2010.

"He was our voice," she said. "He really did make a difference" in getting groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus interested in the 99ers and putting forth legislation to extend benefits.

Read more here

AlterNet / By Staff

Posted at February 17, 2012, 6:49am

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018
Today's Top Stories