By The Mirror Contributor Evan Gahr
Ratings-addled MSNBC host Ed Schultz loves to prattle about the supposed GOP war on women.
But even if you believe that asking women to pay an entire $23 per month for birth control pills constitutes a declaration of war against the fairer sex, maybe Schultz is not your ideal mouthpiece.
In 2007, Schultz was even accused of hitting a woman during a bar fight.
Now, it turns out that Schultz’s first wife, TV journalist Maureen Zimmerman, obtained a temporary protection order against him on Nov. 2, 1995 amid their divorce proceedings. The couple was living in North Dakota. Zimmerman filed for divorce on Jan. 21, 1993.
Schultz, married to his second wife Wendy Schultz since 1998, has long endeavored to keep the matter under wraps. But when blindsided about the edict in depositions for an unrelated lawsuit filed against him by an NBC sound engineer, he stumbled through a series of contradictory and evasive responses.
“I am going to have to plead a 5th on that [question],” said Schultz. “I don’t—I don’t remember.”
Wait. He’s taking the Fifth on something he is not sure happened?
When cross examined, Schultz said, “I don’t—I mean, I cannot definitively say if a restraining order has ever been filed against me. I—possibly, I honestly can’t remember.”
Jeffrey Landa, the lawyer for Schultz, feverishly tried to stop the questioning, claiming it was irrelevant to the allegations by NBC sound engineer Michael Queen that Schultz owes him money for arranging his MSNBC show. Queen is suing Schultz in federal court.
Last week Landa denied a restraining order was ever issued against Schultz. “I don’t care what [the court record] says,” he insisted.
Doubling down, Landa claimed Schultz was not questioned about his ex-wife’s motion and a related court hearing during depositions. When this interviewer offered to read back the transcript, Landa hung up.
Landa did not reply to subsequent emails asking about the basis for the temporary restraining order and if Schultz was ever violent toward Zimmerman.
Mum’s the word from the rest of Schultz’s camp. MSNBC president Phil Griffin did not respond to repeated inquiries (emailed to his personal account and faxed directly to his office). Now, if the story blows up he can’t claim he knew nothing about it until he read it in HuffPost.
His flack was also more silent than a deaf mute.
Queen’s lawyers filed the deposition transcripts on Oct. 14, 2014 as an exhibit to their opposition to Schultz’s motion for summary judgment. This journalist learned of it independently after culling through hundreds of pages of court filings.
Schultz was deposed on November 10, 2011 in downtown Washington by opposing counsel Mark Lane, a renowned JFK assassination conspiracy theorist.
Lane’s assistant explained that he “likes Ed Schultz and watches his show from time to time, but he believes that people should live up to their contractual agreements, no matter how great their politics are, which is why he originally took up the case.”
He sure did — and then some.
In court, after asking about Schultz’s threat to burn down NBC because they omitted him from election night promos, Lane pivoted to the restraining order: “Has there ever been a restraining order against you filed in any court?”
When Schultz pleaded the 5th on something he couldn’t remember, Lane pressed him on the contradiction.
Lane: Well, those are two different answers.
After going off the record briefly at Schultz’s request, Lane pursued his inquiry. When Landa interrupted him, the two lawyers bickered like school boys.
Lane to Schultz: “Did you ever attend a hearing where a protecting order was sought against you? You actually can’t consult Mr. Landa.”
Landa: “Actually, he wasn’t.”
Lane: “He was looking at you and then shrugging.”
Landa: “Excuse me. Are you telling him he can’t look at me? He wasn’t consulting me and I’m going to make an objection—that it—
More back and forth.
Landa: It’s not calculated—don’t interrupt me, please. It’s not calculated to lead to admissible evidence.
Finally, the court reporter re-read Lane’s question: “Did you ever attend a hearing where a protective order was sought against you?”
Schultz, ever so sly, responded with his own question. “What is your definition of a protective order?”
Lane pressed on: “Were you married to a woman who sought an order against you at one point?”
Schultz: “I went through a divorce almost 20 years ago. I can’t remember ever[y] motion that was in the divorce case.”
After Landa threatened to call the teacher—uh, judge—Lane dropped the matter.
Yes, the divorce was “almost 20 years ago” but Schultz’s efforts to sweep the whole matter under the rug are of more recent vintage. In 2004, Schultz got all the records from his divorce sealed — which Landa claims was for “financial reasons.”
The only documents that remain accessible to the public are the dates and subject of motions and hearings.
Nearly three years after filing for divorce, Zimmerman obtained an “ex-parte temporary protection order,” prohibiting Schultz from contacting her.
North Dakota family law attorney Mike Gjesdahl cautions that ex-parte orders are not findings of fact. “It is just a way to say freeze,” he explained.
Temporary protection orders in North Dakota expire after 14 days, when the accused is entitled to a hearing. On Nov. 16, 1995, a hearing was held at Zimmerman’s request for a regular domestic violence protection order, which a judge can issue for one month, one year or indefinitely.
There is no indication on the public docket on how the judge ruled. The tape of the hearing was sealed on Dec. 13, 1995.
Zimmerman could not be reached for comment. Her divorce lawyer is deceased.