Krystal Ball: MSNBC never wanted Ed Schultz’s working class audience

Despite its liberal reputation, MSNBC was not interested in the audience of the late Ed Schultz, according to former network host Krystal Ball.

“I find it really ironic that they took this incredibly pro-working class voice off the air right before the Trump era when obviously you had a lot of working class voters who didn’t feel like they had a home in the Democratic party any more,” Ball said during a Friday episode of “Rising,” a new show she co-hosts for Hill.TV.

Schultz, who died on Thursday at the age of 64, hosted “The Ed Show” for several years on MSNBC beginning in 2009. His program was repeatedly shifted to different time slots by the news and talk channel.

Ultimately, it was canceled in 2015 amid a larger shakeup that saw several progressive commentators forced out as MSNBC moved to include more conservative voices and emphasize more straight news. Since the changes, MSNBC has usually outpaced CNN in viewership. For several months in 2017, it even surpassed Fox News.

Before its cancellation, “The Ed Show” struggled in the ratings, often finishing well behind programs on Fox News and CNN.

According to Ball, MSNBC was never able to grasp how to target the blue-collar demographic that Schultz strove to cultivate and embody.

“To me, there was a correlation there between MSNBC not really understanding his audience and not really wanting to court his audience and moving him off the air and then what happened in the Trump era,” Ball said.

Schultz, who once identified as a conservative, continued to identify as a “pretty faith-based guy” after he had become an avowed progressive. For several years after his left-ward move, Schultz continued to oppose abortion, The Washington Post reported

Independent analysis has shown that a relatively large segment of people who vote for Democrats have strong differences with the party platform on social issues such as religion, abortion, and law enforcement.

After his television program ended, Schultz was hired by RT, a television service formerly known as Russia Today which is funded by the national government of Russia.

In April on his RT program, Schultz said that he believed he was fired from MSNBC because he supported the 2016 Democratic presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

—Matthew Sheffield

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