The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 September 2006

Al Franken, Talk Radio, Rush Limbaugh


When Big News Hits, Al Buries Head In Sand

Al Franken is a talk radio failure.

After today's show, there's simply no other way to describe our friend Stuart Smalley. Yet again, while major news was breaking, Al Franken buried his head in the sand and continued with his usual boring guests and commentary:

Broadcasting live from the Frankenwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, The Al Franken Show on Thursday will speak to these great guests:

(12:50) David Sirota, co-chair of the Progressive States Network, blogger, and the author of “Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government – and How We Take It Back.”

(1:00) Jim Wallis, editor and founder of the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners. He's also the author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It."

(1:30) Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, and a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. He'll talk about the fight between the administration and Congress over torture and the use of military tribunals for terrorist suspects.

(2:00) Tom Oliphant, our Thursday regular. He's the author of Praying for Gil Hodges, and a former columnist for the Boston Globe.

The Al Franken Show.

This isn't about whether or not Franken agrees with your Radio Equalizer on the issues, he shouldn't, as he was hired to dispense leftist viewpoints. Let's make that clear up front.

Instead, Al's fatal flaw is that he avoids important breaking issues at key times. That makes him an inept talk show host.

Never mind that nearly everyone else, left and right alike, was focused on Hugo Chavez's angry outbursts and denunciations of President Bush while on American soil. Instead, on Franken's show today, it was Tom Oliphant's dry, boring ramblings about legislation he doesn't support.

Who cares?

Al, NPR is more interesting than your show!

Frankly, it doesn't matter if Franken spent ten or twenty minutes talking about Chavez today, it should have been every minute of all three hours of his show. If an Air America listener tuned in at 2pm today, he or she should have been hearing about nothing but Hugo, Hugo and more Hugo.

Whether he agreed with Hugo's statements or not, it was today's number one single and not to be avoided by any host hoping to remain on the air.

Using the same dreadful guests repeatedly, as though he's afraid of airtime without them, Franken is frequently able to avoid delving into the big issues.

Liberals may scream about Rush Limbaugh, but the key to his success has been the fact that you can count on him to jump all over major topics as soon as they hit the headlines, at lightning speed.

It's nice that Billy ($625,000 per annum plus lunch expenses) Kimball can book the same handful of guests every week, but your friendly Radio Equalizer can help you today for free, Mr Franken!

Here's your free show prep, take any position you like, we don't care:

Chavez says Bush 'alcoholic' and 'sick man'
Published: 9/21/2006

(Turkish Press) NEW YORK - Vene- zuela's President Hugo Chavez launched a new personal attack against President George W. Bush on Thursday, calling the US leader an "alcoholic" and a "sick man" during a tour of the New York district of Harlem.

Speaking while walking in a Harlem street, Chavez told a group of passers-by: "Bush is an alcoholic, a sick man with a lot of hang-ups."

"He walks like John Wayne," declared the left-wing Venezuelan leader. "He doesn't know anything about politics, he got there because of Daddy." Bush's father, George Bush, was also a US president.

In a controversial speech before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Chavez called Bush "the devil" and "a tyrant."


Leading Bush critic at home calls Chavez a "thug"
Sep 21, 12:43 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of President George W. Bush's fiercest political opponents at home took his side on Thursday, calling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a "thug" for his remark that Bush is like the devil.

"Hugo Chavez fancies himself a modern day Simon Bolivar but all he is an everyday thug," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference, referring to Chavez' comments in a U.N. General Assembly speech on Wednesday.

"Hugo Chavez abused the privilege that he had, speaking at the United Nations," said Pelosi, a frequent Bush critic. "He demeaned himself and he demeaned Venezuela."

Simon Bolivar led the fight for independence against Spanish rule in several South American countries in the early 19th century and is cited by Chavez as a political model.

Chavez, a vociferous critic of Bush and the United States, has allied himself with U.S. opponents Cuba and Iran and has led a resurgence of left-wing populism in Latin America.

"The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Right here," Chavez said as he stood at the U.N. podium where Bush spoke the day before.

From Drudge:



'You do not come into my country, my congressional district, and you do not condemn my president. If there is any criticism of President Bush, it should be restricted to Americans, whether they voted for him or not. I just want to make it abundantly clear to Hugo Chavez or any other president, do not come to the United States and think because we have problems with our president that any foreigner can come to our country and not think that Americans do not feel offended when you offend our Chief of State'...

Al, if you can't figure this out, then it's simply time to hand over your headphones to some other "progressive" who can. Next time, dump the boring guests and talk only about the day's huge breaking story.

That advice is free and we don't even expect the network to pick up our lunch tab!

ALSO: Randi Rhodes really isn't any better, so far mentioning Chavez only in passing and as a way to bash Chris Matthews for not getting Hugo's sulfur "joke".

Thanks for your continued and vital Radio Equalizer support, via Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately order!

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Images: David A Lunde and Pete at IHillary, Chavez photos: AP


  • Comment moderation has been turned on temporarily. They'll be posted quickly.


    1) No more racist remarks

    2) No impersonations of others

    3) Please keep the foul language to a minimum

    4) Let's try to stick a bit closer to the topic at hand

    Otherwise, your opinions are welcome, left or right.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 21 September, 2006 15:48  

  • Franken hardly dispenses leftist opinions.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 21 September, 2006 16:13  

  • I listen to Franken solely for his guests and their viewpoints.

    Its not a variety show.

    By Blogger ohio, at 21 September, 2006 16:18  

  • Furthermore, why not criticize John Gambling, who has Peter King, Jeannine Pirro and James Kallstrom on his show ad nauseum, simply as reinforcement for the station's default neocon positions?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 21 September, 2006 16:20  

  • What prompted the comment moderation all of a sudden? Is Sam Seder still flaming?

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 21 September, 2006 18:02  

  • I gotta say it: Props to Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel for saying what needs to be said, and a big-arse Bronx Cheer to the Dubya folks for attempting to soft-soap Tio Hugo's crapola festival.

    As to the rostrum still smelling of sulfur, I think Conan O'Brien said it best last night: "He who smelt it, dealt it."

    By Blogger JD, at 21 September, 2006 18:59  

  • Bye-bye,

    Comment moderation means me go elsewhere for good.

    By Blogger WHT, at 21 September, 2006 22:15  

  • What else would seder be doing: earning money at his job? Joke's on him! They don't have any more!

    By Blogger BF, at 21 September, 2006 22:50  

  • Franken is scripted.... and without the script writers, he's lost.

    Wonder if he has to pay for them out of his salary, or whether their services are provided by the network?

    If they're network provided they may have been among the five people let go earlier this week, leaving Al without anyone to frantically write new copy for him during the public service announcements - erh - 'commercials'

    However, I think I've heard this about Al before - that he has to stick to the script - so maybe the on-the-spot writers got canned during the previous round of budget cuts, or the round of cuts before that....

    Hey - if things get really bad he can do reruns by rereading old scripts to the same old guests!

    By Blogger Lokki, at 21 September, 2006 22:50  

  • Brian, this is slightly off-topic but I turned on AA today for the first time in weeks specifically to see if they had any other topic to talk about except "Bush sucks."

    I think it was a nanosecond after commerical break when Randi Rhodes presented Sidney Blumenthal plugging his new book: "Bush sucks" (something like that).

    My God, don't these people EVER talk about anything else?

    By Blogger Eric, at 21 September, 2006 23:04  

  • Elmonica, there were overtly racist comments left in one of the posts, several people being impersonated (the Sam Seder situation being the most notorious) and far more obscene language than usual, used in very nasty personal attacks against other people.

    It was way out of hand and quite frankly ruining the comments section.

    The other issue is that spambots are starting to defeat the word verification system. Not good.

    I've been getting complaints for months, but tried to err on the side of open debate. But this week it really went too far with a couple of people.

    I like the lively left - right exchanges and hope you guys will continue them.

    This move is temporary, I don't have time to moderate comments for any extended period.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 22 September, 2006 01:29  

  • >>3) Please keep the foul language to a minimum

    Usually seems to come from the left blog comments, messageboards. Just scan Free Republic and Dem. Underground and you'll see the difference. Even when FReepers
    want to swear, they usually bleep it out (use abbreviations, euphemisms, etc.). Some rare profanity, but DU-ers (I'll be polite and not use PJ-comix's nickname for them here!) swear
    much much more frequently.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 22 September, 2006 02:30  

  • ok, i'm going to get back on topic here.

    Yes, Chavez being a fool was big news. and yes, he should have covered it. but every single person in every news outlet was covering it, and there is only os much you can hear about it before it gets repetitive. Chavez is crazy, blah blah, move on to new topic. the fact that the republicans' biggest enemies are defending the president shows that nobody is taking this guy seriously, and you can't fault Franken for covering other issues that hadn't been beaten into the ground by every other news source in the country.

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 22 September, 2006 11:54  

  • Franken show is obviously more scripted. That's why they can say who is going to be on, and what time we can hear them. The show revolves around guests and discussion of certain topics.

    Everybody else was all over the Chavez situation. In a few months, who will give a crap about what Chavez called Bush? I'll care more about how we are doing in Iraq and what congress has done. These are the type of things that really affect our lives, not a random insult of the President.

    By Blogger Ezsuds, at 22 September, 2006 12:00  

  • Coon, do you consider Dick Cheney to be "coming from the left side"?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 22 September, 2006 12:12  

  • I completely agree with the analysis of Frankin's & Rhodes' programs. I am on the lef tof the spectrum and make it a point everyday to give each of these "hosts" a chance, but all I ever hear is about Bush being the world's worst person and so on. I welcomed AA as a breath of fresh air, but now i find myself tuning into Rush or Hannity because AA wont talk about the current events. Yesterday I lasted 5 minutes before I could not take the orgy of agreement that Bush is the the stupidest man ever.

    AA had so much promise going in and now it is left to a continuous track of "Bush is Bad" "Everything Bush Does is Bad," and "Bush's America Causes every problem." I mean I don't agree with him, but come on. Talk about policies and today's news. Don't just say he is a Awful, go to a caller that agrees, bring a guest on that will echo your point, and wonder why no one is listening.

    Thanks to the radio Equalizer for keeping track of the failures of AA.

    You know no one is listening when you call and get through on the first try.

    By Blogger Michael Goldberg, at 22 September, 2006 12:21  

  • Racoon,
    I suppose that has to do with the fact that death, destruction,and war aside, you are the party of family values.

    By Blogger Elmonica, at 22 September, 2006 12:57  

  • Franken is a bit dull but why should he be a carbon-copy of every other talk show? The big topic on AA this week has been TORTURE and the REALITY of it. Something you won't hear beyond "libs love terrorists" on RNC radio. Screaming about Chavez is the easy way out (for a host) of corse lazy RNC hosts, with no research put into their show, can just whine about Chavez, when you take the high road you do research and enlighten the audience.
    RNC radio prefers to whine about Bush criticism. As long as Chavez did not attack Americans personally, his comments are silly, quite possibly sarcasm (as the sulfer comment a reference to refining oil) and not worthy of a 3 hour radio show. Hacks with an Associates degree from "5 Towns", such as Hannity, call that informative radio, I call it BORING. I want to learn things, therefore I take a show like Thom Hartman, over any of the RNC hosts, or even Franken.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 22 September, 2006 13:09  

  • They care nothing for our soldiers.

    Therefore, the authoritarian neocons will ignore the will of the American people will continue to support torture, waterboarding, rape of children, anal insertion of light sticks and other objects, etc., so they can continue to feel strong and powerful over those in custody, that they know they cannot defeat on the battlefield.

    When you see what they are willing to do to foreigners, 90% of whom are guilty of nothing, why would we truthseekers refuse to believe that these authoritarians will do, say, or manufacture anything to enable themselves to remain in power?

    Mr. Goldberg, if what you are looking for is positive reinforcement of Mr. Bush's policies, why would you be looking for it on Air America programming?

    The vast majority of media outlets are approved and sanctioned by this government, and are chock full of programming that will give you this version of current events (WABC in New York is a perfect example). You will not become vexed about anything you hear regarding this president's performance on their programs.

    But why place yourself into a situation by tuning in AAR (certainly the Franken show is not a hotbed of leftist discussion) and then becoming annoyed with the programming there, when it doesn't reinforce your own opinions of what is happening, day to day, in what many of us consider to have become a rogue nation?

    If you hear something that strikes you not necessarily as being untruthful, but disrespecting your more moderate vision of what this president is about, why deprive American citizens of their right to have ONE outlet that provides information and reports that speak to THEM in their own language?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 22 September, 2006 19:18  

  • Two days after the Franken documentary "God Spoke" is to open in Dallas, the Dallas-Ft Worth area will lose their Air America station. KXEB will go to all-Catholic radio (ironic)
    has details.
    The change should take place 10/1.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 23 September, 2006 23:20  

  • Goldberg, obvioulsy you never listened to A.A once. I hear in depth details of failed Republican policies. I don't know what you listen to, A.A is a lot more than "Bush is bad". Rhodes does detailed analysis of the issues, you better listen closer.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 24 September, 2006 23:37  

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