Franken’s selective argument (Goldberg)

Franken says:

Why, Bernie wants to know, is Phyllis Schlafly always labeled a “conservative”? Maybe because the official biography on her Eagle Forum website calls her a “national leader of the conservative movement.

Franken’s comment makes Bernie Goldberg seem pretty dense. But Goldberg was not wondering or complaining about Schlafly being called a conservative. In fact, he was fine with it. What he was, however, doing was pointing out another double standard. Look at the context of Goldberg’s statement, on page 56 of bias:

Harry Smith, the cohost (at the time) of CBS This Morning, introduced a segment on sexual harassment saying: ‘…has anything really changed? Just ahead we’re going to ask noted law professor Catharine MacKinnon and conservative spokeswoman Phyllis Schlafly to talk about that.’

It sounds innocent enough, but why is it that Phyllis Schlafly was identified as a conservative, but Catherine MacKinnon was not identified as a radical feminist or a far-left law professor or even as a plain old liberal? MacKinnon, after all, is at least as far to the left as Schlafly is to the right. Why was she simply a ‘noted law professor’? The clear implication was that Catharine MacKinnon is an objective, well-respected observer and Phyllis Schlafly is a political partisan.

Franken mentioned two other examples, neither of which were the strongest from Goldberg’s book. So if Franken didn’t think Goldberg had a point to make, he should have responded to these ones, page 57 of Bias:

The Christian Coalition is identified as a conservative organization–so far, so good–but we don’t identify the National Organization for Women (NOW) as a liberal organization, which it surely is.

Robert Bork is the ‘conservative’ judge. But Laurence Tribe, who must have been on the CBS Evening News ten million times in the 1980s (and who during the contested presidential election in 2000 was a leading member of Team Gore, arguing the vice president’s case before the U.S. Supreme Court), is identified simply as a “Harvard law professor.”