MSNBC’s Schultz suspended after using slur to refer to Ingraham

May 26, 2011

MSNBC suspended host Ed Schultz for a week on Wednesday after Schultz called rival pundit Laura Ingraham “a right-wing slut” during a radio broadcast Tuesday.

Schultz apologized for the comment on his TV program, “The Ed Show,” on Wednesday night, saying he had used “vile and inappropriate language” in referring to Ingraham. “I am deeply sorry, and I apologize,” he said. “It was wrong, uncalled for, and I recognize the severity of what I said. I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness.”

In addition to his hour-long program on MSNBC, Schultz hosts a nationally syndicated radio program.

Schultz’s slur was a response to Ingraham’s criticism of President Obama’s trip to Ireland. Ingraham had noted that Obama was touring Ireland while devastating tornadoes were hitting the United States, including one that killed 116 people in Joplin, Mo.

“President Obama is going to be visiting Joplin, Mo., on Sunday, but you know what [Republicans are] talking about, like this right-wing slut, what’s her name? Laura Ingraham?” Schultz said on the air. “Yeah, she’s a talk slut. You see, she was, back in the day, praising President Reagan when he was drinking a beer overseas. But now that Obama’s doing it, they’re working him over.”


Ed Schultz and Laura Ingraham. (Tom Williams/Roll Call; Paul Morigi/WireImage/Roll Call/Wire Image)

In his apology, Schultz said: “It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. It doesn’t matter that I was on radio and I was ad-libbing. None of that matters. What matters is what I said was terribly vile and not of the standards that I or any other person should adhere to. ... I want all of you to know tonight that I did call Laura Ingraham today and did not make contact with her, and I will apologize to her as I did in the message that I left for her today.”

Schultz said he offered to take himself off MSNBC “for an indefinite period of time with no pay.”

“I have embarrassed my family. I have embarrassed this company, and I have been in this business since 1978, and I have made a lot of mistakes — this is the lowest of low for me,” he said. He said he hoped to set an example to his six children and eight grandchildren. “In this moment, I have failed.”

Before the broadcast, MSNBC said Schultz had been suspended for a week without pay. “MSNBC management met with Ed Schultz this afternoon and accepted his offer to take one week of unpaid leave for the remarks he made yesterday on his radio program,” the network said. “Remarks of this nature are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

On her Facebook page Ingraham wrote, “Now I’m tempted to insert one additional zing ... about men who preach civility but practice misogyny.”

Ingraham is an analyst for Fox News and a fill-in host for Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Schultz is third MSNBC anchor-host to be suspended over the past year. Former congressman Joe Scarborough, who hosts the cable network’s “Morning Joe” program, was suspended for two days in November for making political contributions in violation of an NBC News policy. MSNBC had suspended prime-time anchor Keith Olbermann two weeks earlier, after the network found that he had violated the same policy. Olbermann resigned from the network in January.

MSNBC said Wednesday that Thomas Roberts would substitute for Schultz while he is off the air.

Paul Farhi is The Washington Post's media reporter.
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