The only thing that the mainstream media love more than liberal politicians are, well, Hollywood liberals turned politicians. So it’s not the least bit surprising that ABC’s "Good Morning America Weekend" aired a report this past Saturday exalting the merit of comedian Al Franken’s Senate run in Minnesota. The puff piece sounded more like an Al Franken commercial than a piece of objective journalism.
Reporter Bill Weir’s first objective was to recast the nomadic comedian as a proud Minnesotan. The report showed Franken bowling a strike at "At Texatonka Lanes where he learned to bowl" and then concluded with a tour of Franken’s "boyhood home". The report attempted to describe Franken’s childhood if it was ripped from the passages of the famous Minnesota-inspired novel, "Main Street." But Weir focused on Franken’s childhood in Minnesota because Franken has spent the vast majority of his adult life away from the very state he now hopes to represent in the U.S Senate. By trying to paint Franken as a proud Minnesotan, "GMA Weekend" was glossing over criticism that Franken is a celebrity carpetbagger.
Even when Weir mentioned concerns over Franken’s tax fraud and controversial statements, the reporter still managed to frame the concerns in a way that vindicated Franken while insulting his opponent, Senator Norm Coleman. Noted Weir:
Republican Norm Coleman started July up by ten points using an attack strategy normally reserved for well-known incumbents, they dug up unpaid payroll taxes. Franken blames an accounting error and says he's paid up now and they’ve been sifting through his comedy using the raunchier bits to question his moral values.
Bill Weir and GMA are a late entry into the MSM driven Franken bandwagon. Last year, a colleague at NewsBusters wrote about a "Today" show report that described Franken as "smart, Harvard smart. A math whiz who aced the SATs."
Franken’s signature SNL skit character, Stuart Smalley, used to say to himself "doggone it, people like me." Oh, how true that is, if the "people" in question are the liberal media.
The transcript from the July 5 "Weekend GMA" follows:
Kate Snow, anchor: And now he's trying to be a US Senator, for real, no joke from Minnesota, were talking about Al Franken and Bill Weir, who is not here this weekend, recently spent a day with him in his native Twin Cities and heard a lot more campaigning than comedy, though Franken still calls "SNL" with the occasional story idea.
Al Franken: I had an idea for Harrison Ford if he could do it. Indiana Jones as an appraiser at "Antique Road Show" and people keep bringing in like the arc of the covenant and the holy grail and he's kind of like -- where did you get it?
Franken impersonating someone at an antique show: I got it at a garage sale.
TV Introducer: It's "Saturday Night Live."
Bill Weir: If "Saturday Night Live" is the capital of modern American satire, Al Franken is one of the original founding fathers, he cut his teeth writing jokes about Nixon and was still around to comfort Gore.
Franken As a Character: I am smart enough And doggone it, people like me.
Al Gore: And Doggone it, people like me.
Weir: Around Minneapolis, people do actually seem to like him. In traffic.
Unidentified Person: You're gonna get there. You're the best. We need you.
Franken: Thanks, man.
Franken: There it is, there it is.
Weir: At Texatonka Lanes where he learned to bowl and plenty of love
Unidentified Woman: We love you.
Weir: At Hell's Kitchen his favorite breakfast spot. [random chatter] But the affection hasn't shown up in recent polls. Republican Norm Coleman started July up by ten points using an attack strategy normally reserved for well known incumbents, they dug up unpaid payroll taxes, Franken blames an accounting error and says he's paid up now and they’ve been sifting through his comedy using the raunchier bits to question his moral values.
Franken: Sometimes you say things in a way that taken either out of context or just bare don't really reflect what you're saying.
Weir: But that's American modern politics, isn’t it, taking things out of context?
Franken: Yes. You know, I did that for 35 plus years, so there were jokes that I wrote that in context would offend people -- at the convention actually, you know, said that I'm sorry to people – that some of my jokes are giving people the wrong impression of me.
Weir: Franken began the switch from comedy to activism after the '94 Republican revolution by writing "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot." More conservative bashing best-sellers followed along with a three year stint on Air America radio.
Franken: Air America radio is on the air.
Weir: He says he decided to run while entertaining troops in Iraq. And what do you know about the day-to-day life of being a senator.
Franken: Well, I know that because there's a hundred of you as opposed to like 435 in the house, that you are covering a wider swath of issues. You're going to need people you can trust on your staff and other senators to -- who will be your go-to guy on this or that issue
Franken: But I anticipate it being, ah, you know, very hard work and very gratifying.
Weir: Driving to his childhood home he talks about his dad, a lifelong Republican who switched parties during the civil rights struggle.
Franken: We'd see on the tv them turning hoses or dogs on demonstrators and my dad was like, that's wrong, no Jew could be for that.
Weir: News and comedy dominated the humble Franken home.
Franken: This is the living room and that's the living room.
Weir: Where quality time came in the form of quantity time.
Franken: My parents spent very little quality time with us. We never went white-water rafting or, you know -- I did go fishing with my dad but mainly we spent quantity time and a lot of it was just watching tv and so much was watching comedy.
Unidentified Man: It’s nice to see you again.
Weir: The current resident is a fan and is more than happy to put a sign in the yard but even he brings up what could be the achilles' heel of this very unique campaign.
Unidentified Man: If I was running for office there were some things I said about ten years ago that I wish I wouldn't hadn’t have said.
Franken: Then don't run.
Snow: You do wonder about that with him. And if the Minnesota race wasn't lively enough Jesse Ventura the former governor of Minnesota, there’s been some reports that maybe he is thinking about running in the senate race. He says he'll let us know on Tuesday.