Franken Trips Up In Softball Seattle Interview
Just a week ago, Al Franken made the astounding claim that Air America's critics were wrong to talk about weak performance, given that radio ratings aren't available to the public.
Now he's caught up in a second strange contention, one that puts supporters in an uncomfortable position: he says Air America is now reaching up to 55% of the country.
But wait, yours truly and other critics have been on the receiving end of massive numbers of letters, posts, and website gripes, for supposedly not pointing out Air America's stations are too tiny to properly reach the cities they serve.
The examples, between reader comments on this site, whining at Radio-Info and other radio sites, from Boston, Denver and San Francisco, are too numerous to mention.
So which is it? Is Air America reaching 55% of Americans, or suffering from poor signals that keep target audiences from hearing it?
If it really is reaching that many people, then what's the reason for the low ratings? Oops, those are secret. It isn't easy keeping up with the conflicting "reasoning" Air America's apologists like to use!
Perhaps Franken should think before he pulls figures "from his butt" as he's so fond of saying about Rush Limbaugh.
Now, liberal talk supporters will be forced to do a U-turn to save Franken, saying ratings are in fact solid, as the network's reaching a majority of Americans. Hope they're keeping close tabs on his interviews.
Yes, that's exactly where he tripped up, in a Larry King-style softball interview with Seattle Weekly's Geov Parrish, which combined typical liberal Seattle provincialism with ignorance of opponents and their views:
Parrish: What, long term, is the goal of Air America?
Franken: Long term, the goal is to build until our reach is 100 percent of the country. This takes a while. We've been doing this ayear. We now cover between 50 percent and 55 percent of the country. We've done that in a year. We're going to be, I think by the end of this year, somewhere around 70 percent. The goal is really to be heard everywhere, and it just takes a while to build. And I believe we will.
Why didn't Parrish ask Franken to elaborate on this nearly incoherent statement:
We had a guy on today [Thursday, April 28], Brian Anderson, who's written a book called South Park Conservatives, and it's a conservative book on liberal bias and all this stuff, and he attacks Air America in it. We had him on the show today. And he ultimately had to admit that our show was not what he was saying we were, or not what he was saying Air America was, anyway, and that I don't do what Rush does.
Anderson told me earlier this evening he doesn't remember comparing Franken to Limbaugh and found the statement puzzling.
Radio Equalizer reader John Jensen investigated Franken's assertions here:
Parrish: What do you think the differences are between you and Limbaugh?
Franken: I'm glad you asked me that. I use this example a lot. A few months ago, Rush was talking about the minimum wage. Conservatives like to portray it that no one has to raise a family on the minimum wage—the only people who get the minimum wage are teenagers who want to buy an iPod. So Rush says, "Seventy-five percent of all Americans on the minimum wage, my friends, are teenagers on their first job."
And one of the researchers brings this to me, with a smile, and I say, "Well, can you look it up?" And they look it up. The researcher goes to something called the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Sixty percent of Americans on minimum wage are 20 and above.
Forty percent, then, are either teenagers or below 12 [laughs]. I had several jobs as a teenager, so you figure, what, 13 percent might be teenagers in their first job. Not 75 percent. So where did Rush get his statistic? Well, he got it directly from his butt. It went out his butt, into his mouth, out the microphone, into the air, into the brains of dittoheads. And they believe this stuff.So we get our labor statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He gets his from the Bureau of Rush's Butt.
Here's Jensen's response:
You see where Al Franken accused Rush of "pulling stuff out of his butt" regarding minimum wage workers, then does the exact same thing?
There are 73,939,000 hourly workers in the U.S. in 2004. Of those, 2 million worked at the federal minimum wage, or less. This makes up just 2.7% of hourly workers and 1.44% of the total employed workforce of 139,252,000.
Of those making at or below the federal minimum wage 51% are under 25 years old, and 24.9% are between 16 and 19 years old.
Additionally, 62% of all minimum wage workers are working only part time. http://stats.bls.gov/cps/minwage2004tbls.htm#1 http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet
Yesterday, a reader said I'd created a "cottage industry" of attacks against Air America and liberal talk radio. The truth is, Franken and Company have done the work for me, I don't need to build anything. Keep it up, libs!