Al Franken distorts Alan Colmes’ context

Per usual, Fox News opinion commentator co-hosts Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes voiced their opinions following the 2003 State of the Union address. Franken complains:

The point-counterpoint pretty much broke down like this:

“This is a big vision! This is a bold agenda!”


“President Bush did a magnificent job!”

Quick. Which one of the critical sentiments was expressed by the liberal? If you guessed “magnificent job,” you’re a winner!

(p. 91, Lies)

As Franken knew, the show did not have a “point-counterpoint” format. As Franken likewise knew, at issue was the President’s National Security platform, which Franken himself as well as prominent Democrats including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry supported.  Faulting Colmes for not turning National Security into a partisan issue is quaint, to be sure, and grows even more curious considering an exchange Franken recounts in another chapter. He bumped into Colmes at the White House correspondent’s dinner:

“I did a Nexis on your show during Kosovo. And every day during Kosovo, Hannity was saying things a hundred times worse about Clinton than any Democrat has said about Bush. He said, ‘Clinton can’t be trusted. He’s not following his advisors. He’s doing a terrible job.’ At one point he even said, ‘We’re running out of ammunition.’”

“You’re going to use it, right?”

“Well, that’s not the format of our show.”

“Not the format of your show?”

“We don’t go after each other.”

(p. 217-218, Lies)

Noted are Hannity’s horrible statements during the Kosovo skirmish. Yet, despite Franken’s stated disdain for gratuitous chiding, he chided Colmes for not chiding the chief commander. This was not merely a dull-witted discrepancy – once upon a time, in previous fairytales, Franken actually bragged about Democrats standing behind the President.  An especially insightful crumb as reported by ABC News (Dec. 12, 2001) [Clinton Says A President Gore Would Be Facing Barrage Of Criticism From GOP Over Conduct Of The War. The Bulletin’s Frontrunner – 12/13/2001 – ABC News (12/12, Gerstein)]

Al Franken says Clinton told him that if Gore were president, Republicans in Congress would be criticizing Gore’s prosecution of the war, holding hearings about the administration’s failures and perhaps even seeking Gore’s impeachment.

“He said there would be congressional hearings about how they let their guard down,” Franken said in an interview Tuesday. “He was saying how the bipartisanship we’re seeing now is really a one-way street.”

Now the icing on the cake:

“This would be a lot trickier if Gore had won,” Franken said. “There wouldn’t be the unity.” (bold added)

Franken also fails to inform his reader that Colmes’ correction to Franken about the format of the show was indeed valid. Hannity & Colmes was never and is not presently formatted as a host vs host “Crossfire” style. Instead, Hannity & Colmes, as the show’s title implies, focuses on the hosts individually, giving each one time to introduce and briefly pontificate on news items before cross examining the guests.

Franken claims to have watched the show many times, citing quotes from various episodes, yet displays confusion when being told the show’s format does not pit the hosts directly against each other as Franken implied and went on to mislead his viewers about.