RT America, a Washington, D.C., subsidiary of Moscow-based RT (formerly known as Russia Today), broke the news of Ed Schultz’s passing a few hours ago, and U.S.-based networks quickly picked up the story. Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan commented on Schultz’s passing, saying,
“We are devastated by the news of the sudden death of our brilliant anchor, one of the best TV journalists in America, Ed Schultz. The respect that Ed commanded among viewers and among his colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic is impossible to overstate. He was an unconditional patriot of his country, an honest and principled man. When the campaign against RT America began and the channel was forced to register as a foreign agent, Ed set an example for all of us, saying: ‘Let them call me what they want, I am going to speak the truth no matter what.'”
A popular radio host and political commentator, Schultz was born on January 27, 1954, in Norfolk, Virginia. He attended Minnesota State University at Moorhead and was an all-American quarterback who went on to play as a free agent for the Oakland Raiders, and then was accepted by the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
After retiring from sports, Schultz went to work at KTHI-TV, in Fargo, North Dakota, and by 1988 Schultz was doing sportscasting for WDAY-TV as well as political commentary on his own conservative talk show, Viewpoint. In 1996 he left WDAY to host a similar show on KFGO. He was to remain a political commentator for the rest of his life.
By the mid-1990s, however, Schultz’s political leanings swung from right to left — a change he attributes to his wife, Wendy, opening his eyes to the plight of homeless people and veterans. He began hosting his show remotely out of “economically depressed” American towns in order to drive home to his listeners the very real struggles of those living in rural America. He became a champion of the Affordable Care Act, and registered as a Democrat.
In 2003, Schultz became the host of his own syndicated radio talk program called The Ed Schultz Show, and by 2009 he was also hosting MSNBC’s The Ed Show at night. In 2013 he shifted to a twice-weekly show, and in 2015 the show was canceled by MSNBC, which cited a need to move to a news reporting format.
According to TVLine, Schultz returned to television in 2016 as lead news anchor for RT America, and served as host of the nightly news program News With Ed, saying,
“I’m back in prime time at 8 o’clock where I belong.”
Schultz is mourned by both Republicans and Democrats as well as Russian journalists he worked with who admired him for his straightforwardness and willingness to call out his own country and others when he felt it was right to do so. Schultz is survived by his wife, Wendy, who successfully beat ovarian cancer in 2012, and the couple’s six children.