TPM Interview: MSNBC Host Ed Schultz

Ed Schultz recently entered his fourth year as an anchor for MSNBC. He talked to TPM about why he loves to fish, how he takes his coffee and why he loves being a broadcaster. What’s the best part of your job?

Having a chance to make a difference.

What’s the last book you read?

The one I wrote … I’m more of a magazine reader. I got about half-way through Game Change.

What’s the most under-covered story right now?

That the wealthy doesn’t pay their fair share. I used to be in the middle class, now I’m in the 1 percent. I can’t believe the tax cuts that are available. I’m living it. I can tell you that it wouldn’t affect me a bit if the rates went to 39 percent. Most of the people in the major media are in the 1 percent. There aren’t any poor cable hosts.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming recall election in Wisconsin?

Pivotal. This is a template to fight back against Citizens United. It’s going to affect the entire country. It’s going to give a lot of Americans confidence that money can’t buy your vote. If people are informed, and people vote their best interest, they could beat Citizens United. This is the perfect template, it just happens to be Wisconsin. A victory for the people is crucial here.

Who’s your favorite Fox News host?

None of them. I don’t find what they say entertaining.

Mac or PC?

PC. I have an iPad, too.

How do you take your coffee?

Cream and sugar. Always.

What’s your drink?

Tanqueray and tonic, with a lime.

What’s your advice for this year’s high school graduates?

Nothing replaces hard work. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

What’s on your desk?

Pictures of my wife, my kids, my son playing golf, and a bunch of fishing pictures.

Why do you fish?

I’ve fished since I was a teenager. It’s one of the most fantastic activities, and there’s so much to it. I just love every facet of it. I’ve never had a bad day fishing.

Who inspires you?

The people. It’s important to get out on the road and see the people that you’re broadcasting to. You get a sense of what’s important to them. The people keep me going. I’ve always viewed the Ed Show as being a voice for the voiceless.

What have you learned since joining MSNBC?

I’m a small spoke in a big wheel. I think you have to be very focused to have any measurable success at doing a cable show. I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve done three time slots in my three years here — at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 8 p.m. — and I’ve had success in all three. That’s rather rare.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the fact that I was able to make it. All my philosophies of working hard and not giving up, being a team player, understanding that I’m not the most important person in the building. Doing what I do with a lot of passion. That’s been a formula that’s worked for me. I knew that Phil Griffin was taking a chance when he hired me, and I didn’t want to let him down.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Grab my Blackberry.

Last thing before bed?

Put it down.

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you going?

The desire to succeed and continue to put out a good product is kind of a 24-hour job. You just can’t shut it off. You’re always on in this business, whether you like it or not. You’re constantly consuming. I think balance is really important.

What does the american dream mean now?

I think you find the American dream in your own heart and soul. Everybody does it differently. I can’t speak for anybody else. For me, the American dream was working hard and just doing the best job you absolutely can. And I just feel confident that everything else is going to fall into place. I don’t think the American dream is anything material. I think the american dream is, you live in a country that let’s you be whatever you can be.

Ed note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.