The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

01 April 2006

Cranky Al Franken, Matt Lauer, NBC's Today Show, Michael Smercomish


On National Television, Grumpy, Testy Al Lets Loose

Memo to network producers: avoid booking Al Franken in the early morning hours. Before a certain point, he's a certifiable grump.

Who knows, maybe he didn't get his Wheaties yesterday.

Whatever the reason, Al made a serious mistake appearing with Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show. Paired with WPHT-AM/Philly's Michael Smercomish, Mr. Smalley had little to say about the topics at hand, including ongoing pro-illegal immigration marches sweeping the West Coast.

Thanks to Ian at Expose The Left for making the video available, while a transcript exists at Scott Whitlock's Newsbusters blog. Hat tip: Scott Johnson at Powerline.

Is this what happens when Mr. Billy ($625,000 per annum) Kimball is fast asleep in his hotel room? Was the remaining Franken/Harvard entourage not available for prop-up duties?

For Al, the end result of this mess was career-damaging: he lashed out at Smercomish, saying "screw you" on national television. Who knew the Today Show was unsafe to watch with one's children?

While Franken brought nothing but misery to NBC, despite Lauer's predictable praise for Air America (which Al oddly didn't address), Smercomish was in top form.

Bringing facts and timely information to the segment, he won the illegal immigration debate by default.

If only NBC's liberals were interested in listening to reason!

From the NewsBusters transcript (with Whitlock's dead-on comments):

Lauer: "Al Franken is host of the Al Franken show on Air America radio, celebrating a second anniversary today, so congratulations."

The Today host allowed Franken to take a number of cheap shots at the administration. He even obliged by throwing the radio host some softballs:

Lauer: "Andrew Card, five and a half years as chief of staff, out. Was he shown the door? And if so, is change good?"

Franken: "He was exhausted. I think he's been exhausted since, pretty much, since day one...You know, they point to lousy decisions made recently, but they've been making lousy decisions since, pretty much since- I think they just stayed up too late at the first inaugural."

Franken went on to say that Josh Bolten taking over as chief of staff would do no good because he’s "even more exhausted." He then added:

Franken: "I think they should just fire these guys in order of exhaustion. I think Rumsfeld is looking real tired."

That last line drew a laugh from Lauer and the Today set. However, Mr. Franken, who felt free to dish insults out, became very testy when Michael Smerconish noted how somber the author of "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" seemed:

Smerconish: "Yeah, Al sounds a little exhausted to me this morning."

Franken: "It's 4:11AM! It's four in the morning here....Screw you! I got up at four in the morning."

Franken, who was appearing via remote from California and thus in a different time zone,couldn’t let the issue go:

Franken: "I got up at 4AM, Michael! Four friggen AM!"

Hey Al: welcome to the media biz! Are you new to this?

Interviews at crazy hours are par for the course. It's not a reason to lash out on national television.

Maybe Al gets so darn much free publicity these days, he just doesn't appreciate it.

Because morning shows usually have a "fun" element to them, Franken's anger seemed especially jarring.

And most baffling is why NBC staffers found Franken's Rumsfeld "joke" so funny.

Even with Lauer's fawning, softball questions and hand-holding, Franken still bombed, creating a heavy tune-out urge.

Quite an accomplishment, Al! Wonder if NBC will be crazy enough to try this again? We think that's unlikely.

Also at NewsBusters: Tim Graham on Air America's second birthday. And, a big thanks to sites linking to yesterday's Radio Equalizer piece on that very occasion, including Viking Pundit, memeorandum, The Truth Laid Bear, Ace Of Spades and several others not yet known to us.

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DRS, NBC Spin: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer


  • I wonder if Al Franken acted like that when his children were little and needed tending in the early morning hours...

    By Blogger FYIFYI, at 01 April, 2006 10:32  

  • Next issue: the bald dude. What's with his hair? How about it, cueball? I'm lookin' at you and thinkin' "fourteen in the side pocket."

    By Blogger @whut, at 01 April, 2006 10:32  

  • Great work, Brian!

    keep posting non-story after disingenuous story after outright lie...

    It's a pity you show any semblance of honest "reporting" ever, when you're so obviously unaware of how much you marginalize yourself with weak stuff like this...

    I wonder - at which point does your "reporting" seem like obsession to your fans? The reasonable among us already understand your obsession - you and michelle malkin thought you smelled blood over the Cohen-created Gloria Wise issue - but, that didn't play out as you'd hoped, or planned.

    And now, you're reduced to snark.

    Too funny.

    By Blogger TJ, at 01 April, 2006 10:36  

  • Al did'nt tend to his children at 4am.. He was tending to a straw up his nose

    By Blogger dennis_kookinich, at 01 April, 2006 11:13  

  • Hey TJ - many of Brian's fans come here to laugh as you aholes reflexively lash out. Face it, he is under your skin and no matter how much you tear at yourself - there he is with another post. Writhe sucker...

    By Blogger rhodeymark1, at 01 April, 2006 11:31  

  • Oh come on. After reading the characterizations on Expose The Left and now here, this is getting ridiculous.

    Michael was kidding, Al was kidding and if you watch the video...everybody is laughing. Everybody.

    Drop the hackery. It's tiring.

    By Blogger Justin Gardner, at 01 April, 2006 11:45  

  • Why, I wonder, are people like the Powerline buddies and Hugh Hewitt so obsessed with the left's "vulgarity?" Sure, lefty bloggers and radio hosts sometimes use naughty words like "Fuck" and "Screw." Most people use those words sometimes, even in Red America (tm). Even John Hinderaker uses them in e-mails.

    But of course, there are other ways to be vulgar than using the occasional swear word for comic effect. Calling Jimmy Carter a traitor, as Powerline boys do? That's vulgar.

    Calling Tom Daschle "Hanoi Tom" for saying something mean about Bush, as Rush Limbaugh did? Unspeakably vulgar and vile.

    And nothing could be more vulgar, more revealing of the right's bad manners, than Hugh Hewitt's attempt to smear Michael Ware as a traitor.

    So on the one hand we have the big righty bloggers and hosts spewing eliminationist rhetoric against liberals and journalists. On the other hand, Al Franken says "screw you."

    There is no comparison. It is the right that has been pushed in the direction of shameless vulgarity and bad manners. It is the right that is dragging down the level of our culture.

    By Blogger M.A., at 01 April, 2006 12:09  

  • Al's just upset that Garrison Kiellor has been named "Minnesota's Most Unfunny Humorist." It was a title he'd worked so hard to acheive...

    By Blogger Raoul Ortega, at 01 April, 2006 13:18  

  • To TJ, at 01 April, 2006 10:36 and Justin 01 April, 2006 11:45
    This is quality stuff. I'd have been pissed if I had missed the biggest screw-up in Al's career. Thank you Radio Equalizer!!!!
    Wow what a duezey. If a right guy had done this I also would want a peice on it with equal professional treatment.
    Al Franken is washed up. He didn't realize the NBC staff were laughing AT him not WITH him. His head was still in bed in his dream dominion where he rules and the world is all left ...

    By Blogger MN1, at 01 April, 2006 13:57  

  • Face it... Franken is too ugly to ever appear on tv. He needs to stick to radio where nobody can see his mug.
    It's also interesting how the leftie commenters here suddenly think that it's wrong to call people names. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black....

    By Blogger eieio5150, at 01 April, 2006 14:41  

  • You really got em this time Brian. Wow. Such substance. "Screw you"! Boy, that stung. Career-damaging. (Grasp stomach, bend over, bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!...) Brian, you'd need a career to be able to make that charge.

    What a figment.

    By Blogger LT, at 01 April, 2006 16:26  

  • Wingnuts grasping at straws.

    To much kool-aid.

    By Blogger Al, at 01 April, 2006 16:40  

  • Brian, are you for real? Career-damaging? Lashing out? Do you even believe yourself? All he did was joking tell "screw you" to the other guy. It was jovial. Smercomish was laughing along with Franken and Lauer.

    It is so amazingly clear how desperate you are. You'll find any little thing to talk about Franken and exaggerate it 10-fold. How sad.

    despite Lauer's predictable praise for Air America
    Are you implying that there was some kind of bias there? Cause Lauer also congratulated Smercomish on his new book. Fair and balanced, baby!

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 01 April, 2006 17:45  

  • you pimp everyone linking to this shit...but me? OUTCAST.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 01 April, 2006 21:52  

  • Brian, sorry to be so crass, but you're an idiot. Can't you tell that even Smercomish thought Franken's "screw you" was a joke? Is this the only thing that conservatives can do, bring up false "liberals are shrill" examples? Hint, when someone says a degrogatory comment and everyone in the room laughs, it generally means the comment was in jest.

    I've been reading your blog for almost two years, and for two years you've been claiming AirAmerica is days away from its demise. Your credibility gap is growing almost as long as your nose.

    By Blogger Chris, at 01 April, 2006 21:59  

  • >>>I've been reading your blog for almost two years, and for two years you've been claiming AirAmerica is days away from its demise. Your credibility gap is growing almost as long as your nose.

    By Chris<<<

    Okay, lemme get this straight... you've been tuning in for two years; and you think he's an idiot, but you keep coming back and even rouse yourself to enter a comment....

    Screw You! Paris Hilton uses YOUR nose as a vibrator. YOU LOVE IT.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 01 April, 2006 22:10  

  • Brian, I appreciate your posts. Thanks for letting us know what is going on. I don't usually listen or watch places where Franken would appear on, so I enjoy reading your pieces.

    I also enjoy, almost as much, the liberals constant attempts to discredit you. They're pretty good at the insults, the "problem" is they don't mean anything except that they feel threatened by you and probably by all conservatives. The only thing they can do is ineffectively lash out. LOL It's almost as entertaining as your posts are informative.

    By Blogger Linn, at 02 April, 2006 00:51  

  • No one feels "threatened" by Brian Maloney? Do you have any proof of that?

    I can't speak for everybody, but I view Brian with a mix of sorrow and amazement. I feel sorry for him that he sees things in his mind that aren't really there. Where normal people see a jovial exchange, he sees lashing out. I am amazed because its astounding how he keeps coming back here and making stupid post after stupid post and have us pounce on him.

    My diagnosis: he's lonely, oh so lonely. And he needs us to listen to him. And he accomplishes that with the stupidest, most inane, most untruthful posts imaginable.

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 02 April, 2006 01:30  

  • HEY, KITE, do you ave, like a day job?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 02 April, 2006 08:14  

  • Yes, why?

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 02 April, 2006 11:14  

  • I am a registered Republican, had a Bush-Cheney '04 and a Viva Bush bumper sticker on my car deep in a blue state during the election surrounded by Kerry stickers and *#$% Bush stickers, and refused to vote for Bob Dole in 1996 because I didnt think he was conservative enough. Having said all that (although obviously I cant prove it) ...
    I have to agree with the left wing comment posters. I watched the video. Franken was obviously joking. Everyone was laughing, including Smercomish. And not in an uncomfotable type of laugh. Genuine laughing with him, not at him. I credit you for posting the video, but it undercuts your whole case.
    The only thing I can fault Al Franken for is repeating the same joke over and over again in the segment. However, that shouldn't be entirely unexpected considering that that has been the modus operandi of Saturday Night Live. Take one mildly amusing joke and stretch it out for 10 minutes. Just see the Simpsons episode where Krusty on "Tuesday night live" does the "big ear" family sketch and comments when no one is laughing "Ugh, this goes on for another 14 minutes"

    By Blogger Kysr, at 02 April, 2006 13:23  

  • It just seems odd you spend so much time barking at the moon.

    Me, I'm self-employed. I can tell the whole company to piss off every once in a while, since it's me I'm talking to. But your boss is obviously getting robbed because of your obsession.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 02 April, 2006 14:56  

  • Kysr,

    They weren't laughing with Al Franken, they were laughing AT Al Franken.

    He hasn't said anything funny since his SNL days when he was much less bitter.

    By Blogger Editor-in-Chief, at 03 April, 2006 13:53  

  • I despise Franken as much as the next person with a sense of humor, but I watched the video and it's obvious that Al is just being humorous as only Al can be. He wasn't angry or hostile.

    It really frustrates me when people on the left mischaracterize conservatives and can't comprehend their humor - it bothers me even more when it's the other way around.

    By Blogger OttO, at 04 April, 2006 02:43  

  • attack Franken all you want. Franken has a job, makes millions, wrote best selling books, wrote for SNL. Maloney, has a blog. A 4 year old can have a blog if he or she wants to
    Franken has a lovely wife, married 30 years, successful children, a nice family guy. Brian's hero Limbaugh, 3 times divorced, no kids and an out of control drug problem. At least Franken took care of his drug problem.

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 04 April, 2006 14:19  

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