Thursday, June 09, 2005

Franken don't know Ruth

I haven't posted for a little over a week now as I put the finishing touches on my upcoming expose on Al Franken, Pants on Fire.

This is going back to June 1, with another episode of "Rush Limbaugh lies."

But I caught him.

Here's the context of the story:

Rush brought up that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RBG, who is much more extreme than any of Bush's nominees, was treated much better than Brown, Owens, Pryor, et al. He then goes onto cite an example of her extremism .

But Franken says it's a lie - she never said it.

So here is the segment and exchange with "resident ditto-head" (who visits with Al 1-3 times a week)Mark Luther.

On June 1, 2005, during the now often predictable “resident ditto-head” segment, Franken played the following audio clip of Rush:

“You know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is more extreme than any of these nominees that Bush has brought up. I went through this list of things she actually believes in, that came out in her testimony, such as getting rid of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and replacing it with Parent’s Day…”

Franken to Luther: “…she never actually said anything about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for Parents Day…ANYWHERE.”

Luther (developing a backbone): So you think he is just fabricating this completely?

Franken: I think it’s an urban myth from conservatives. We got this from Thomas E. Mann, a Brookings Institute Senior Fellow on Government Studies. He told us... I now have it on the highest and closest authority that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has NEVER , in any setting, proposed doing anything with Mother’s Day…

So I did a google search to see for myself, rather than rely on “Franken’s painstaking research”, and put in the words, “urban conservative myth” and “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and “Franken smears Limbaugh.” Wouldn’t you know it, I got thousands of hits. So I tried to narrow my requests to, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and “Franken’s crappy research.”
Again, way too many hits. So I gave it one last try and just inserted, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and something about dropping Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for Parents Day.

Well There it was.
- The quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg (that Franken said didn’t exist)
- The setting from whence the good judge proposed dropping the aforementioned celebration for the singular Parents’ Day (that Franken said didn’t exist)
- The smear made against Rush exposed (that Franken says doesn’t exist)

The so-called “urban conservative myth” came from a column on NRO, Bench Warmers, Putting Judicial Nominees in Perspective, Part III, written by Edward Whelan, (5/20/2005).
In the article, Whelan cites the “Report of Columbia Law School Equal Rights Advocacy Project: The Legal Status of Women under Federal Law” co-authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Brenda Feigen Fasteau in September 1974, as the non-existent source of Ginsburg’s “mainstream” philosophy.


At 5:19 PM, Blogger Ben Regenspan said...

So Al Franken's failing was in not finding a report Ginsburg co-authored in 1974, or the National Review column which cited it ten days before his show (and very well could have not found it's way into search engine indexes by the time his show was researched)? Maybe it's time to review what Rush said:

I went through this list of things she actually believes in, that came out in her testimony, such as getting rid of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and replacing it with Parent’s Day.”

I think there's a reason that you referred to Rush's source for this but did not quote the wording of Ginsburg (or her co-author)'s statement of views, which was very cautious (especially given its publication in the early seventies):

Replacing “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” with a “Parents’ Day” should be considered, as an observance more consistent with a policy of minimizing traditional sex-based differences in parental roles.

Again, this appeared in a report in 1974, and, unless Ginsburg mentioned this position or entered the report into her nomination testimony (I'm not sure whether the nomination process allows for this) during her testimony, Rush's claim was flatly untrue.

As far as Franken's specific claim regarding Rush's, some "catch" you have there. All that the evidence points to is that Franken failed to find any mention of this decades-old report prior to his show. You can speculate as to whether he found and dismissed it without making note of this on-air, but I would hope that speculations such as this are not the meat of your expose, which I do hope to read when out.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger A. Skorski said...


Thanks for writing. On the show, Franken stated that Ginsburg had never made any comments about replacing Mothers Day and Fathers Day with Parents Day.

I found it with one google search.

Franken, in the same segment, also chastised his guest, Mark Luther, asking whether Rush should have done his research before making such outrageous claims against Ginsburg.

Also, very, very important to remember that Franken is the one who has frequently claimed that he holds himself to "impossibly high standards when it comes to telling the truth." That means that like his targets, he does not have a lot of wiggle room or excuses for getting his facts wrong, especially when he uses those facts to smear others.

At 11:16 PM, Blogger Ben Regenspan said...

Well, Franken should at least stop claiming to have an immaculate research record, I'll give you that. The shame here is that he'd have an equally good point to make about Limbaugh lying if he had only mentioned that Ginsburg did once mention the '74, and possibly in conjunction with, or at the complete behest of, her co-author.


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