ABC’s This Week Promotes Dem. Al Franken: ‘Traded in Comedy for Politics’

ABC’s This Week hosted Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) For his first Sunday show interview and used the opportunity to promote his 2014 reelection for Senate yet provided no critics for his reelection bid. 

Being interviewed by ABC’s Jeff Zeleny, Franken was hyped as having “the most famous laugh in politics. But these days, Al Franken is delivering a different kind of punch line.” [See video below.]

Zeleny hyped how Franken is “starting to run for reelection, after spending his first term honing his serious side. So you’re not afraid to use humor but it seems like you’ve been selective in using it.

As the promotional segment continued, the ABC reporter gushed at how “Franken has traded a television audience of millions to sit through meetings and tour factories. In hopes of sealing a bond with voters.”  After briefly mentioning that Franken won his seat in a highly controversial fashion, Zeleny allowed Franken to promote himself by claiming “When I would make fun of politicians, it was only because they were screwing up in some way. And I don't think I could find anything, frankly.

The ABC reporter only briefly pushed back at Franken by asking “How difficult is it right now to run as a Democrat in the sixth year of President Obama’s second term?” Unfortunately, rather than continuing to push hard against his liberal guest, Zeleny instead chose to tout President Obama saying “President Obama is saying Democrats should not apologize for the health care law... President Obama said don't be afraid of it.

Zeleny didn’t stop there, and provided even more campaign propoganda for Franken by hyping how the Minnesota Democrat has “become a fierce critic of big corporate mergers and the loudest opponent to Comcast's bid to take over Time Warner Cable. Arguing it's a no-win for consumers.” He even hyped how “But he also brings a flavor of fun to the capitol. Senator why the hot dish competition?... It's another chance to remind people of his roots.”

Zeleny concluded his Franken propaganda segment by beaming “If he wins in November, he'll get the last laugh. His transition from comedian to senator fully complete.” Much like last week when ABC offered a glowing profile of Senator Elizabeth Warren, ABC seems perfectly content bringing on liberal Democrats to promote them and give them unchallenged air time.

See relevant transcript below.


ABC

This Week with George Stephanopoulos

May 4, 2014

10:17 a.m. Eastern

AL FRANKEN: At a panel on health care reform, the first lady announced that her comprehensive package would cover people with the willies, but not those suffering from the heebie-jeebies.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOUILOS: Al Franken at the White House Correspondents' Dinner from 20 years ago. He's traded in comedy for politics. Now going back home to win a Minnesota Senate seat by just 312 votes. And now he's trying to hold his seat in a tough year for Democrats. ABC's Jeff Zeleny joined him on the trail for a "This Week" exclusive.

JEFF ZELENY: He may have the most famous laugh in politics. But these days, Al Franken is delivering a different kind of punch line.

FRANKEN: This may be overrepresentative of people who think about propane.

ZELENY: We caught up with Franken in rural Minnesota. He's starting to run for reelection, after spending his first term honing his serious side. So you're not afraid to use humor but it seems like you've been selective in using it.

FRANKEN: When I go to the floor and I’m with a colleague, will I crack wise, as they say? Sure. You know, and in a hearing, sure. That’s who I am.

ZELENY: A top Republican in Minnesota told me that you have done a remarkable job making yourself into a serious person.

FRANKEN: I was always a serious person. People who are funny are very often very serious people and vice versa.

ZELENY: He became famous bringing Stewart Smalley and other "Saturday Night Live" characters into America's living rooms.

FRANKEN: I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And dog gone it, people like me.

ZELENY: But Franken has traded a television audience of millions to sit through meetings and tour factories. In hopes of sealing a bond with voters.

FRANKEN: I do.

JOE BIDEN: Congratulations, senator.

ZELENY: The far less glamorous life of a first term senator. Six years ago, you won election to the United States senate by 312 votes. The smallest margin of any senator. How did that affect your first term?

FRANKEN: I think it did affect it. I think I felt that I wanted to prove to all Minnesotans that I was going to work for them. Is it still the Al Franken decade? Yes, it is.

ZELENY: What would comedian Al Franken say about Senator Al Franken's first term?

FRANKEN: He would say I did well. Because I'm the same person. There aren't two different people.

ZELENY: Wouldn’t  he have fun with you at some point?

FRANKEN: When I would make fun of politicians, it was only because they were screwing up in some way. And I don't think I could find anything, frankly.

ZELENY: Nothing?

FRANKEN: Whoo. That would be a really hard subject to satirize. Because I've just been impeccable.

ZELENY:  Impeccable?

FRANKEN: Yeah. I've made some small mistakes, I suppose.

ZELENY: But as Republican senators tell me, not a many as they hoped. Several GOP candidates are running. But even in off the Democratic year, for now, Franken holds a double-digit lead. How difficult is it right now to run as a Democrat in the sixth year of President Obama’s second term?

FRANKEN: I'm very comfortable doing that.

ZELENY: President Obama is saying Democrats should not apologize for the health care law.

FRANKEN: I think that the rollout was pretty disastrous. I don't think there is any question about that. I also think there are parts of the law that need to be fixed.

ZELENY: President Obama said don't be afraid of it.

FRANKEN: There's a little bit of a catch 22 there. If you think it's bad issue in your state, so you're not going to defend it because you would rather talk about something else.

ZELENY: Franken’s become a fierce critic of big corporate mergers and the loudest opponent to Comcast's bid to take over Time Warner Cable. Arguing it's a no-win for consumers.

FRANKEN: And you could charge more.

ZELENY: But he also brings a flavor of fun to the capitol. Senator why the hot dish competition?

FRANKEN: Well, hot dish is a big thing in Minnesota. So I thought it was a good way to get the delegation together in a fun, friendly way.

ZELENY: It's another chance to remind people of his roots. Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, says voters have noticed. Six years ago, members of his group endorsed Franken's opponent.

KEVIN PAAP: Senator Franken was on my farm two years ago and combined five acres for me.

ZELENY: How was he?

PAAP: He was great.

FRANKEN: I did corn harvesting. You go in a straight line. So it's pretty easy.

ZELENY: It's all part of Franken's life on this side of politics.

FRANKEN: You know, I really enjoyed my other career. This is a great job. It's a great job. But it's also great to make people laugh.

ZELENY: If he wins in November, he'll get the last laugh. His transition from comedian to senator fully complete. For "This Week." Jeff Zeleny, ABC news, Good Thunder, Minnesota.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.