Political satirist Al Franken uses all three hundred and seventy-nine pages in his new book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” to expose the lies of many well known conservatives in the media and in the Bush Administration.
Franken’s previous book, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot,” covered some of the same material as “Lies” but Franken now has a much larger group of conservatives to prove wrong. He starts by exposing best selling conservative author Ann Coulter. Franken shows Coulter’s knack for providing little to no evidence to support claims she made about liberals in her last book “Slander.” Franken says of Coulter’s research methods, “Using Coulter’s techniques, its possible to prove that no newspaper ever covered anything.”
Fox News, who filed a lawsuit against Franken for using what they claimed to be their trademark phrase “Fair and Balanced” in the title of his book, is believed by most to be a news network with a bias toward the right. Franken picks apart the past jobs of many including Fox News president Roger Ailes, who worked for the Reagan Administration, and Brit Hume, an anchor on Fox, who worked for the elder President Bush.
Hannity and Colmes, a show described as a debate between right and left over current news stories, is dissected by Franken to show how Hannity, the conservative, overpowers Colmes, Fox’s token democrat. Franken sets out to expose Hannity’s many lies, on TV, radio and in print, as well as his rabid hatred for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Franken clearly takes the most pleasure in exposing the lies of Bill O’ Reilly.
O’Reilly has claimed in the past to have won Peabody awards for his work on Inside Edition, to be a registered independent and to be from the working class town of Levittown, N.Y. Franken proves neither O’Reilly or Inside Edition ever won a Peabody award, that O’Reilly is a registered Republican, he obtained his voter registration to prove this, and used an interview O’Reilly’s mother gave to the Washington Post that said he grew up in the upper middle class town of Westbury, N.Y. Several other examples of O’Reilly lying were given and although he will say they are merely personal attacks how can a man who claims to host a “no spin zone” lie so often?
One of the best examples from “Lies” of Franken using humor to get a serious point across is in the comic book style chapter titled “Supply Side Jesus.”
This chapter both explains and takes very pointed and humorous shots at the right’s fanatical devotion to supply side economics and religion.
This is accomplished by contrasting the story of Jesus Christ with a fictional character, also named Jesus, who teaches about the supply side economic theory.
Franken spends an entire chapter discussing the life and death of his friend and Minnesota Senator, Paul Wellstone, who died in a 2002 plane crash along with his wife, daughter and staff members. Sen. Wellstone’s death and public memorial service, held shortly before the election that year, came under much scrutiny from conservatives who felt that democrats were exploiting the tragedy to retain a seat in the Senate.
Franken, a Minnesota native, attended the public memorial and was outraged by comments made by Limbaugh, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan and CNN’s Tucker Carlson. All three blasted Democrats over this event and tried to portray the event as a campaign rally for Wellstone’s replacement, Walter Mondale, instead of as a public memorial. Franken actually asked Carlson if he had seen the event before talking about it on his show, Crossfire. Carlson admitted he had a tape of the event but did not watch the memorial.
In the last part of the book, Franken systematically picks apart many of the lies told to the public by the Bush Administration. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind Act” is shown to really leave quite a few children behind, as Franken successfully exposes the complete lack of an environmental plan from an administration made up of former oil executives.
Critics of Franken will say that the book is categorized as humor and should not be taken seriously. There are many books, such as Eric Altherman’s “What Liberal Media” and Joe Conason’s “Lies”, that deal with this subject matter in a more serious academic fashion. Is the book funny?
Franken transcends the title of comedian in this book by successfully mixing humor with facts in proving his case that those in the media and in the government that he chooses to take on in this book truly are lying liars. Much of the research can be credited to his research team, named TeamFranken, but at least he takes the time to do the research unlike many of his conservative counterparts.
Whether you are a democrat, republican, liberal, conservative or none of the above this book is highly recommended. “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” will shed new light on many popular influential figures in the media and in government.