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Lies, and the Lying Leftist Who Tells Them By: Peter Schweizer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 24, 2006

By the titles of his last two books, "The Truth with Jokes" and "Lies and Lying Liars Who Tell Them,"  Al Franken has tried to position himself as a truth teller.  “Telling the truth is something I take seriously,” he wrote in Lies, “and I try to hold myself to an impossibly high standard.”

So when I heard Al Franken went on the Michael Medved Show last week (February 14) I was interested to hear him respond to the always thoughtful Medved.  I got a copy of the program on CD, sat back and listened. It was fun hearing Franken twist and turn when Medved asked him to support or denounce things that his friends Al Gore and Michael Moore have said in the past. Franken professed to not know about Al Gore’s statements in Saudi Arabia that America was rounding up and detaining countless Arabs. And he claimed ignorance that buddy Michael Moore has called America an “evil empire.”  (I’d really have to see that in context, was his only response. A strange approach from someone who professes to track news events.)


I had been a guest on the Michael Medved Show the day before, so when a caller asked Franken about my book "Do As I Say (Not As I Do)," and my charge that he talks about affirmative action but doesn’t practice it, my ears perked up.  His response was a blend of distortion, twisted logic and diversion.


Some background:  I wrote a chapter about Franken and challenged him on his hypocrisies involving a number of subjects, but in particular affirmative action. Franken says that corporate America and conservatives pay only lip service to the cause of diversity and he claims the moral high ground as a champion of affirmative action. So I looked as his personal hiring record and found it seriously lacking.


On the Medved Show,  Franken claimed that I went through "gyrations" to paint an unflattering picture and that my relevations about his hiring practices are "simply not true."  He claimed that I cooked the books to make his record look worse than it was. I essentially cherry picked the people that he hired, he said,  to exclude minorities that he had employed. He assured the caller that he was committed to affirmative action and quickly gave the example of a black director on his failed television show Lateline as proof of his commitment to affirmative action. (Franken claimed I missed this example, but I made note of it on page 76 of my book. If my research is so off, why not give other examples,  Mr. Franken? Given your commitment to diversity, shouldn’t there be plentiful examples?)


Was my methodology unfair? What I did in researching Franken’s hiring practice was simple.  Franken works in the entertainment/broadcasting field which is all about credits.  You can find out who does what by the fact that they are mentioned in the credits.  This is the only accurate and objective way to account for hiring practices.  Does it really matter if Al Franken might have had a black secretary fifteen years ago?  For his commitment to affirmative action to have mattered, to mean anything, there should be numerous examples of credited individuals who have worked on the projects he has controlled over the years.


Did I go through gyrations as Franken claimed? Was I unfair?


I looked at Franken's credited radio show producers and staffers (at time of writing):  all white.


Then I looked at all the credited research assistants/collaborators/support staff  Franken has directly hired to work on his books (mentioned in the acknowledgements) over the past and found them to be all white.  This is a particularly stunning figure because for his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,  Franken claims that he received 700 applications from Harvard students who wanted to work on his book and he personally went through all the applications and conducted all the interviews himself.  He himself picked the final 14--and not a single one he selected was black.  Did he not get one qualified black applicant?  It’s hard to believe given Harvard’s minority enrollment is 35%.


I looked at all the senior people on his television programs and film projects including “Stuart Saves His Family,” “The Al Franken Show,”  “Fox vs. Franken,” “LateLine,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” etc. and looked at the producers, directors and senior people that he chose to work with. (I excluded junior staff.  It's not like Franken was hiring the Key Grip to work on the film.)  I found these to be all white, with the exception of the previously mentioned director.  Were Franken a conservative, liberal critics--and Franken himself!---would call Team Franken a closed circle of select white friends. (Indeed,  by my count,  Franken’s staff over the past fifteen years has been whiter than Bob Jones University.)


Seems pretty straight forward, doesn't it? Franken has never challenged these figures.  He’s been silent about the subject since the book came out in October. The reason is, of course, that he can't erase or change the credits and it's easy to find out who he hired to do what. So when asked about it on a radio program, he responds with nebulous charges of "distortions."


Franken thinks this is unfair?  Then why do Franken and his colleagues on the left use this same methodology on corporate America and conservatives all the time? Imagine for a minute the roles are reserved. Imagine if George W. Bush had a completely white cabinet, and senior White House staff. Wouldn't Franken be the first to dive in with charges of racism?


This double standard goes to the heart of Franken's hypocrisy.  Like everyone else I profiled in my book,  Franken seems to have two sets of standards--one for other people and one for himself.  He's all for scrutiny and charges of bigotry,  he just doesn't expect to undergo such scrutiny himself.


This has been Al Franken's first public comment (to my knowledge) about the book,  which was released last October and has spent numerous weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.  It’s not that he’s unaware of the book.  Just prior to publication, his agent,  Jonathan Lazear contacted my editor with threats of legal action. 


Instead of side-stepping the issue, or making quiet threats,  Franken should answer the specific charges in my book. Why not debate this matter on the Michael Medved Show or another venue?  Or perhaps he should consider his tactic of throwing around the label racist to anyone who doesn't share his policy opinions.  


I don’t consider Al Franken a racist; I consider him a hypocrite.  If he were to apply his own standard to himself, Franken would have to regard himself as a racist.


Al, you are the one gyrating.


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Peter Schweizer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy.

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