The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

25 September 2005

Why Let Franken Win?

ROLLING OVER

Franken Scores At WSJ Columnist's Expense



Rather than taking on one of the left's sleaziest characters, is maintaining a stuffy media pecking order more important? Or can this blunder be chalked up to pure ignorance?

Exposing a key danger of conservative disunity, a Wall Street Journal columnist has needlessly allowed Air America talk show host Al Franken to score points at his expense.

And it's forced the Radio Equalizer to address one of the conservative media's biggest weaknesses: structural quirks that interfere with good story judgment. Is it about rivalries, or other issues?

We watched the liberal media establishment ignore Air America's funding scandal story, where $875,000 in taxpayer funds were apparently diverted from an inner-city nonprofit, until readers began to fight back. Eventually, some relented, including the New York Times. Increasingly, the story is attaining nationwide awareness levels.

Completely missing in action, however, has been the Wall Street Journal. Why?

Since it published 2004's best expose on the liberal talk network's many unpleasant operational issues, it would seem natural for the WSJ to tackle sleazy revelations instead left to Malkin and Maloney, the New York Sun, Post and others.

Nothing about the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club's money transfers to Air America, Franken's confirmed lying on when he first knew of the scandal (proven via a notarized document), corporate shell games, near-constant lawsuits, or quasi-panhandling seem to interest the Journal's staffers.

Coming to terms with this eventually occurred for the Radio Equalizer, but an infuriating incident this week finally uncorked the bottle.

Exceptionally popular online writer James Taranto, who writes "Best of the Web Today" for WSJ's OpinionJournal.com, managed to roll over and play dead in an elementary playground-level fight with sleazy Al Franken.

Since July, the Radio Equalizer isn't aware of one word written by Taranto on the Air America scandals. If he's not interested, fine, but we've always sent email alerts to the latest developments.

On September 16, Taranto appeared on the FOX News Channel's Hannity and Colmes show, claiming President Bush's poll numbers had begun to improve after a post-Katrina hit. Colmes and Internet liberals quickly pounced on Taranto, who conceded he may have been mistaken.

Though a later Rasmussen survey did appear to partially verify the assertion, it's not clear what he thought he'd seen. When pressed, Taranto quickly backed off of it, which in hindsight appears a good call.

Enter previously uninvolved Al Franken, whose intellectual dishonesty is exceeded only by his incredible arrogance. Writing Taranto, Franken's account of events was, according to the leftist Media Matters:


In an on-air conversation with Media Matters president and CEO David Brock on September 21, Franken described the email exchange he initiated with Taranto asking him about his assertion on Hannity & Colmes:


FRANKEN: Now I emailed James Taranto.

BROCK: Is that right?

FRANKEN: Yeah, I got his email address from somebody.

BROCK: Great.

FRANKEN: And this is what I wrote. I wrote, "Hi, James. I have a radio show on Air America Radio, and something we do is check stuff that doesn't sound right to us."

BROCK: [Laughter]

FRANKEN: "Recently on Hannity & Colmes, you said, quote: 'I think we've already seen the poll numbers start to bounce back.' When Colmes asked, 'Where?,' you said, 'I've seen some polls in which the approval rating is almost as high as the disapproval.' We've had difficulty finding such polls. Could you direct us to them? Thank you, Al Franken."

BROCK: [Laughter]

FRANKEN: Now to James Taranto's --

KATHERINE LANPHER (co-host): Credit?

FRANKEN: -- credit -- to his credit, he emailed me back and wrote this. He said, "Dear Mr. Franken, It's possible that I was mistaken about this. Cheers."

BROCK: [Laughter]

FRANKEN: Now, here's the thing. Let's not punish a guy --

BROCK: Right.

FRANKEN: -- for getting back to me. Right?

BROCK: Sure. Absolutely.

FRANKEN: It was a very quick and forthright response.

BROCK: Right. And he's not being dishonest in his response.

FRANKEN: No. Now I -- and when I wrote him back, I was extremely careful to -- I just said, "Thank you for the quick and forthright response."

BROCK: Right.

FRANKEN: And I didn't say anything snarky.

BROCK: Sure.

FRANKEN: I didn't say like, "Oh, one other question: Why would you act like you're so certain" --

BROCK: Right.

FRANKEN: -- "about something that you clearly were mistaken about and had no basis for?" I didn't do that.

BROCK: Right.

FRANKEN: And you know why? You don't punish someone.


Of course, one wonders how much Franken has twisted and contorted these events. Why did Taranto fall for it in the first place, however? He'd already admitted his potential mistake to others. Why give Franken the satisfaction?

Rather than fire back over Franken's proven ethical lapses in Air America's sleazy scandal, Taranto rolled over and played dead. Franken and Brock are now having a great time at his expense.

Did maintaining a stuffy media pecking order force Taranto into a duel with an unloaded weapon? How could you not shoot back by mentioning Franken's unclean hands in the honesty and accuracy department?

It appears not acknowledging a Journal-ignored, blogger-led story was more important than holding Al Franken accountable for his sleaziness. Franken hasn't a moral or ethical leg to stand on, regardless of the topic. He's the last person that should challenging anyone on accuracy matters.

Or could it really be possible Taranto isn't aware of the Gloria Wise scandal? Seems unlikely, but one never knows. Would he face the wrath of his Journal editors?

Luckily, the Journal has been nearly alone in shunning the topic, at least from conservative-leaning publications. Between top-quality blogs, the National Review, Weekly Standard and a number of newspapers including the Washington Times, coverage has steadily increased with each damning revelation.

The Radio Equalizer makes these points as a longtime fan of both the WSJ and Taranto's work. In that spirit of constructive criticism (of which I now expose myself to his), add this: what good came from trying to appease Franken?

In Thursday's column, Taranto noted the Media Matters attention, realized he was actually correct on the Bush poll data, and mentioned Franken. Yet somehow, the Air America scandal still wasn't worth addressing (Tip: reader Andy B.)

Today Powerline has a superb piece on Al Franken's Friday Yale Law School speech (tipped off by investigative partner Michelle Malkin), with rough notes from "our own correspondent" on scene in New Haven. It shows how Franken's now busy using Taranto's weak response as ammo against the right:


· Taranto says on Hannity and Colmes that Bush’s numbers are bouncing back. Franken writes him and e-mail asking for polls that show president is bouncing back from Katrina…Taranto writes back “Dear Mr. Franken I may have been mistaken” and corrects himself the next day…says he got lots of angry mail, that all the angry left can do is be angry.

· Franken says he’s bullsh------…sometimes you have to get angry. Why shouldn’t we be angry at this malfeasance? Why shouldn’t we be angry a guy with no experience is at head of FEMA? Same with homeland security? Wasting billions going to cronies that could be used to educate people? Used to save lives in Africa? Is that not worth being angry about?


I'd like to find out why Taranto took this approach with Franken. If he responds to my email, I'll let you know here. If events have been mischaracterized (which would be good news), that will be indicated as well.

In the meantime, should you find yourself in a battle with the likes of Al Franken, go ahead and take the gloves off. With any hesitation on your part, you may get nailed below the belt.


Welcome Powerline and Free Republic readers.


Franken graphics by Pete at IHillary. Franken/AAR scandal by Darleen Click. Taranto photo and WSJ graphic from OpinionJournal.com. Your Amazon orders help to support this site's efforts. Thanks!

12 Comments:

  • This isn't about letting someone win. It's about Taranto making an inaccurate statement and owning up to it. Apparently you prefer the response of: "Yeah, well what you did was worse."
    You are a child Brian. Grow up.

    By Blogger Justin, at 25 September, 2005 20:20  

  • Problem is, Taranto didn't make a mistake regarding Bush's poll figures after all.

    Franken lied about his knowledge of $875,000 in community center-designated taxpayer funds being used to fund his liberal radio network.

    Just hoping to find out why Taranto doesn't think that's important enough to mention, especially when Franken's now using him as a punching bag.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 25 September, 2005 21:26  

  • Problem is, Taranto didn't make a mistake regarding Bush's poll figures after all.

    You deliberately slip past the point, Baloney.

    Taranto may not have been mistaken in the end but he was shown to be bullshitting on H&C. He couldn't simply point Franken to the polls that he had "seen" which indicated that Bush's "approval rating is almost as high as the disapproval"; the polls on which he based his statements on H&C. That's all that Franken asked. "We've had difficulty finding such polls. Could you direct us to them? Thank you, Al Franken.". Taranto didn't even try to identify a poll that supported his bullshitting... even when given a chance after the fact. It simply demonstrated that Taranto's statement on H&C was just pulled out of his ass.

    Franken lied about his knowledge of $875,000 in community center-designated taxpayer funds being used to fund his liberal radio network.

    Oh, it's his network now? The settlement agreement showed that Franken wasn't even an investor. Are you lying about that or are you just mistaken? Were you lying or just mistaken about dominating the discussion over at radio-info.com?

    Just hoping to find out why Taranto doesn't think that's important enough to mention, especially when Franken's now using him as a punching bag.

    Taranto obviously doesn't think the GW loan has any connection to Franken. Most people don't. Only you and your no-brain wing-nuts.

    By Blogger HeadHunter, at 25 September, 2005 23:31  

  • Brian, you are obsessed with hating Al Franken so much now that it's bordering on insanity. Al wasn't a part of the AAR scandal, so it doesn't matter "when" he first knew about it.
    You're priorities are insane: attack Al Franken, but dismiss journalistic accountability (Taranto's admission of lack of pro-Bush polls...).
    Bringing up the Rasmussen poll is pathetic of you, because their "improved" Bush poll figures are only 3 days old, which means they were posted WELL AFTER Taranto's H&C appearance and his email response to Franken.
    Anyway, I've never heard or read Taranto and his work before this, and I might actually read Taranto's columns now, knowing he's a "stand up" guy, which is why Franken had the "class" (unlike you) not to "punish" him. I (an independent) could attack Taranto for his "sleazy" remark that all the "Left" knows how to do is be "angry" but pros like Al did that for me at the Yale speech. It's people like YOU that need anger management help.

    By Blogger charlieD, at 26 September, 2005 02:16  

  • I'm a newbie here but I am somewhat puzzled by this site. It appears to be almost totally dedicated against Al Franken. Also its approach is very tabloid - the doctored graphics, the deliberate distortions and misrepresentations, the accusatory polemic. It's like the National Enquirer but of lower publishing quality.

    By Blogger 18 USC 793, at 26 September, 2005 07:59  

  • The settlement agreement showed that Franken wasn't even an investor.

    This is directly contradicted by the testimony of ... Al Franken! who claimed to be "an involuntary invester" when he went without a couple of paychecks back in the Summer of 2004.

    By Blogger BF, at 26 September, 2005 08:53  

  • Testimony?!!

    Baloney, what kind of idiots are you paying to make these stupid comments? Franken was making a stupid joke on air and some wing-nut idiot thinks it's "testimony" that proves he's an investor. The settlement agreement explicitly states Franken is not an investor.

    By Blogger HeadHunter, at 26 September, 2005 09:23  

  • Sorry, PhilM, but you (and Franken) can't have it both ways. He has set himself up to be the arbitor of truth. (Don't believe me? Check out Franken's upcoming book.) As such, he's not allowed to pass off any innacuracies he might make as "stupid jokes".

    He's the one that created the higher standard. So he's the one that has to live by it.

    By Blogger BF, at 26 September, 2005 11:20  

  • Nail on the head, Bryon.

    Holier than thou libs trumpet themselves as these higher beings, but when push comes to shove they don't measure up.

    By Blogger LibsRlosers, at 26 September, 2005 12:34  

  • Is this what you simpletons have resorted to? You're so desperate to plug the holes in your argument that Franken is a liar that you'll grasp at misrepresenting a lousy joke and show it up as an "inaccuracy".

    OK. Bryan, which is it? A testimony that Franken is an investor? Or an inaccuracy? You've totally about-faced from your original stupid assertion and contradicted yourself. As you say, you can't have it both ways.

    LibsRLovers, thanks for your brainless me-tooism.

    I suppose when Franken describes Cheney as a fat cat then you simpletons will be outraged to discover that Cheney is not an overweight feline. Or when he provides the commentary that Rove and Libby are frog-marched from the WH for treason than you imbeciles will be up in arms because they're not marching like frogs.

    Wing-nut idiots!

    By Blogger HeadHunter, at 26 September, 2005 13:35  

  • its amazing that you can tell the same story every single day. seriously, how are you going to tell it tomorrow? give me a sneak peek. what will the headline be? "Franken's Radio Station Sucks"? "Franken Didn't Invite Me to His Birthday Party"? "I Don't Like Al Franken"? those are just some suggestions. i'm sure yours won't be any more creative than those.

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 26 September, 2005 16:14  

  • Franken's Radio Station Sucks

    Too much like "Sun Rises in East". I'm glad you like it, though. Have you sent in your contribution? If so, how's the totebag?

    By Blogger eLarson, at 27 September, 2005 14:30  

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