Finally on Friday the truth came out.
MSNBC President Phil Griffin did not see Ed Schultz ask President Obama a question at his first press conference. And why is that?
A. It didn’t happen.
B. Phil Griffin doesn’t know how to watch TV.
C. Phil Griffin hallucinated Ed Schultz asking Obama a question.
D. All of the above.
After listening to Schultz’s testimony, I’m going with D.
The trial of Ed Schultz Vs. NBC producer and sound engineer Michael Queen has been playing out in Washington, D.C. federal court all week long. Queen contends he had a partnership with Schultz and helped him land “The Ed Show.” The blustery MSNBC host says Queen was a friend but denies he ever helped him get his show.
One of the more troubling and bizarre moments of the trial has been watching Phil Griffin’s videotaped deposition, which has now been played twice for the jury. There you see Griffin, who comes off as a rather jolly fellow, enthusiastically describing what first attracted him to Ed.
He said it was Obama’s first press conference in which Ed sat in the front row and asked Obama a question. Griffin said he was so impressed that he called a meeting with Ed at the Four Seasons in Washington D.C. to find out how he — GASP! — got to sit in the front row and question the President of the United States.
It’s all just so This Town impressive. Especially since their meeting led to Griffin hiring Schultz at MSNBC.
Except it never happened. Griffin was — however you want to interpret it — lying, exaggerating or severely mistaken. Schultz sat in the front row, but he never posed a single question. He never even took any notes. (He claims he always keeps paper in his lapel.)
On Friday, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Catfish Abbott, finally cornered him about it.
Like a trapped animal, Schultz could no longer deny Griffin’s ridiculous error.
“I will testify that Mr. Griffin was mistaken,” said Schultz. “I didn’t ask any questions.”
But then, as if to make up for how lame that all sounds, the MSNBC host went into full bragging mode.
“I have talked to the President,” he told Catfish. “I’ve had lunch with the President half a dozen times.”
Catfish, clearly not impressed, replied, “You’ve had lunch with the President. You know a bunch of senators. Would you agree that you’re not above the law?”
Schultz shot back, “Mr. Abbott, I have never been arrested in my life. I am not someone who operates like I’m privileged or above the law.”
Among the questions that really riled the host was when Catfish suggested that the question he never asked Obama helped him get his job.
“Is it fair to say President Obama helped you get your job?” he asked Schultz, who sat there flabbergasted by the question.
In his videotaped deposition, Griffin said he met with Schultz at the Four Seasons to ask how he got a front row seat at the press conference and was able to ask Obama questions.
Asked if Griffin ever spoke to him about questions he never asked, Schultz denied his boss ever brought up his possible hallucination at their first meeting.
Courtroom sketch by Vanessa Webb.