Baby Cries a Lot sits down with The Progressive magazine for an interview entitled "Al Franken Interview" (by Stephen Thompson) and it's not pretty. Stephen Thompson tries hard throughout the interview. He even stretches the truth but it's of no help.
For instance, after running down Franken's two sitcoms (both quickly cancelled), Thompson offers, "He has also worked in film--most notably as co-writer and star of 1995's Stuart Saves His Family, a spin-off of the Stuart Smalley character he'd created for SNL."
Most notably? Thompson's far too kind. What was Stuart Saves His Family's opening domestic box office?
It's final box office total?
Most notably? It didn't even make a million at the box office. Thompson tries so hard, but it's Baby Cries a Lot's nappy and he's determined to poop if he wants to, poop if he wants to.
Franken: Yeah, I’m not that leftwing, which is the odd thing about this: My views on most things would jibe with most Americans'. On most issues, most Americans are certainly left of this Administration. Not necessarily left, but more common-sensical. Given a chance, they’d spend less on the military, they wouldn’t make more nuclear weapons, they would want to increase environmental regulation rather than reduce it, they would want to spend more on education and health care, they would enforce corporate-responsibility laws and make corporations pay their taxes, all those kinds of things. Crazy talk. [Laughs.]
Common-sensical? He did graduate college, didn't he?
No, he's not "that leftwing." He's jingoistic and he's Baby Cries a Lot, but he's not leftwing. Which is why the original title for his program was nixed (it included the apparently dreaded word "liberal").
He explains, a nonshocker, how much he enjoys socializing with Republican senators. We kind of got that idea when he brought on AEI refugees and assorted others. One so offensive that Randi Rhodes, whose show aired immediately after, expressed her dismay that Baby Cries a Lot had the man on as a guest.
But, and maybe this somewhat explains The Nation cover story that was so dominated with news of Baby Cries a Lot, note how he fails to bring up any of the other shows. As Randi Rhodes noted (I believe it was in the lengthy profile the Washington Post did on her) that it wouldn't hurt him to plug some of the other shows when he goes on TV. Apparently it would hurt his pride to do that interviews so, instead, he resorts to insults and dismissing reality.
Q: Did you have a difficult time attracting talent in the beginning?
Franken: Well, we didn't really have a problem attracting talent, because there is no talent to some degree. [Laughs.] The right wing has had a radio apparatus for years and years, so they’ve had minor leagues--they've had local rightwing guys who've become national rightwing guys, and who build slowly, and that's how it goes. We haven't had that. It isn’t like we have a farm team.
Possibly Thompson meant, by "talent," guests or writers. Baby Cries a Lot instead goes to the other on air personalities. They don't even qualify for a "farm team."
Next, Thompson appears to attempt to correct the impression (huge ego) that Baby Cries a Lot has just left with readers.
Q: You do have some experienced radio veterans.
Franken: Yeah, but you need an experienced radio veteran who is a liberal advocate. And there just hadn't been any radio that did that. And so they weren't trained--they had developed all these bad habits of being objective and balanced and stuff like that. [Laughs.] It's hard to get that out of a person. I mean, obviously, I value objectivity and actually caring about facts, and we do that on the show. I'm not saying we're objective, but we're advocates. Katherine [Lanpher, co-host of The Al Franken Show] is certainly much more objective than I am, and tries to rein me in and keep me in check, which is good.
Kathaerine's "experienced." (Presumably Rachel Maddow would qualify as well, WRSI & WRNX, but he doesn't mention her.) But it's in that "objective and balanced" radio (read public radio). That's the only kind of "radio veteran" at Air America Radio, according to Baby Cries a Lot, because there was no one who'd been "a liberal advocate" and there "just hadn't been any radio that did that."
You know, outside of his inflated ego there's a thing called facts. He might want to visit the Land of Facts someday. (An appearance by Bob Somerby was a disaster as Franken refused to let the fact checker surpreme -- intended as a compliment -- get a word in.) Laura Flanders had extensive training in radio and is a liberal. She was doing a daily show while Baby Cries a Lot was still trying to figure out why Stuart flopped (and flopped so big). In addition, before Air America Radio existed, Mike Malloy and Randi Rhodes were popular radio hosts. They were established names, dealing with the news from a liberal perspective for many, many years. They were not unknowns. Randi Rhodes was successful in her markets and known via internet streaming outside of her markets. Mike Malloy, too, was a trusted voice. But somehow the three of them don't even qualify for a "farm team?" Besty Rosenberg's EcoTalk existed (like The Randi Rhodes Show) prior to Air America. But Besty Rosenberg doesn't cut it a farm team either apparently.
Most people grasped that the "family" wasn't a family when Lizz Winstead was disappeared. Considering that Baby Cries a Lot rushed Greg Palast off the air for daring to question the hagiography surrounding Ronald Reagan, that he played an insulting and demeaning theme song before David Brock's every appearence ("We Will Brock You") and that he, like O'Reilly, wouldn't let Jeremy Glick make his points (boiled down as chickens coming home to roost), we've been pretty easy on the man who delighted in mocking the death of Arafat with a zeal that one doesn't expect from such a fluffy man. His sexual remarks to a guest (an elderly, African-American woman) were in bad taste. His comments about activism by entertainers (while praising Meg Ryan) were insulting (and ticked a number of people off). But the worst we've done prior to this entry is to dub him, rightly, Baby Cries a Lot (he turns on the tears when he can't win an argument -- watch the CSPAN video closely if you've missed this trait on his radio program).
Yet once again, his ego leads him to insult others at Air America Radio. For the record, Laura Flanders, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy and Betsy Rosenberg came to Air America Radio with radio experience, as liberal voices on the air. They do now, what they did then and do it amazing well. They are not a "farm team," they are on the first string. They know their facts, they know how to shape their points and make their points in a manner which is both entertaining and educational. They are radio professionals and they deserve something more from Baby Cries a Lot then to be slammed and/or overlooked.
In addition to them, Matthew Rothschild has been doing The Progressive Radio Show for many years and Baby Cries a Lot has just slighted Rothschild (and I'm sure others, I don't claim to be an expert on radio) as well. There's also FAIR's CounterSpin program, which, Laura Flanders hosted for years.
No, he's not "that leftwing." And as he bends and twists in the wind, most listeners can grasp that. (Or at least community members can. He's loathed by community members. And he has only himself to blame for that and his tendencies that include raving over Ronald Reagan go to the reason why.)
Not surprisingly, when Thompson asks Baby Cries a Lot about his "dream contributors," Baby gurgles three names, all men. Note, this isn't three hosts, this is three contributors. To put it into TV terms, Baby Cries a Lot wasn't asked to pick an anchor for the evening news. If he had been and had still chosen three males, that would be bad enough. But what's worse is that Baby doesn't even think of a woman who can contribute a report. That's what he's listing, people who could do reports. And no woman springs to mind.
Baby Cries a Lot prefers women to play mommy (as happens on his show) or sex object (as happens during his USO tour -- which resuled in angry responses to Mother Jones when they ran his USO piece).
Baby Cries a Lot needs to start recognizing the contributions of others at Air America Radio and he also needs to grasp that people like Laura Flanders, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy and Betsy Rosenberg have been fighting the good fight while he's been yucking it up. They aren't the "farm team," they are varsity players, first string. Were his talent as large as his ego, he'd be a radio giant. It's not and he's not. It's time he stopped minimizing (or ignoring) the work of others.
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com.
(Note: As mentioned earlier today, the interview was e-mailed by Brad who also made a strong case for addressing it here.)