Hannity, New York public schools

Sean Hannity cited statistics exposing the New York City public school system as “an absolute abomination” (A fact which Franken does not dispute). Then Hannity wrote,

And as if that weren’t bad enough, city and state education officials didn’t seem to have a clue about what was going wrong.

“Is it teaching?” asked state Education Commissioner Richard Mills. “Is it teaching practice? Is it the material? Is it the work students are doing? What are they reading? What are they writing? What kind of math problems are they doing?”

What are these people doing with our tax dollars if they don’t even know the answers to these questions? [Italics in original]

[145-146, Let Freedom Ring]

Reading this in Hannity’s book, Franken skillfully scrawled a note in the margin,

“Rhetorical question, asshole!”

[p.96, Lies]

More precise would have been “questions,” with an “s,” as there were seven in total. The fact Mills rattled off a chain of them made the rhetorical part pretty clear. Franken, obviously oblivious to Hannity’s point about why the commissioner would need to ask these rhetorical questions, writes

Hannity, full of contempt for both his readers and the truth, was twisting this good man’s words into a noose of lies.

[p.97, Lies]

Actually, Sean was asking a rhetorical question. The fact he wrote the question in a book for millions of people to read should have made that obvious. Sean was using what is called a “rhetorical device.” But you knew that, Al. You just didn’t have the energy to work out a more sophisticated lie about it.

Attempting to prove Mills did in fact know what was going wrong in the school system, Franken digs up parts of Mills quote not cited by Hannity, as if to say that Hannity was leaving something out. Here is the first

“When you look at schools in relation to the accountability system, New York City schools have a long way to go.”

[Lies p.97]

Upon citing this quote, Franken boasts,

Richard Mills was the person who had created that accountability system.

Okay, very good Al. This explains how Mills knew a problem existed. His testing system clearly identified that. We need to see evidence proving Mills knew what the problem was.

Franken throws in this nugget:

The difficulty of the tests that Mills himself had imposed had led to the low test scores Hannity cited.

That’s right, Al. Now that a good accountability system was in place we could see just how far behind the students were. That has nothing to do with Hannity’s point about Mills not knowing why the students were so far behind!

Here’s the second part of the quote Franken dug up:

“There’s no simple fix,” he said. “I would peel the onion. I would ask questions about all the fundamentals that go on in school.”

[Lies p.97 Paperback]

Wait, why would he need to learn anything about the fundamentals that go on in school? He is the state Education Commissioner so why doesn’t he already know? Oh. That seems to make Sean’s point about Mills not knowing what was going wrong.

Unable to explain exactly what Hannity did wrong, Franken leaves it to the reader to invent a problem, asking,

Do you see why that’s obnoxious? And not just obnoxious, but also dishonest?

No, Al, I don’t see what could possibly be dishonest about Sean Hannity accurately quoting someone. Why don’t you spell it out?