In the updated, paperback edition of his bestseller "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," comic Al Franken has an addendum to his Ann Coulter chapter in which he describes waiting for his wife to get ready to go out and, cooling his heels in his home office with colleague Andy Barr, he notices Coulter's slimy little treatise Treason (OK, my adjectives, not his) on the book shelf. As Franken writes:
Taking Treason from the bookcase, I said, "Andy, I'll bet you I can find a lie in this piece of shit before Franni gets her lipstick on." Andy knew just what to do. He cranked up Nexis, and we were on our way.
I told Andy, "There's a lie on every page of her books, so I'll just open to a random page." Boom. I opened to page 265 and scanned down the page and saw a paragraph beginning with the words "New York Times." Boom. There's always a lie when Coulter mentions the New York Times.
Franken goes on to describe how Coulter does indeed hideously and dishonestly misquote columnist Thomas Friedman and, yes, this is all done before Franni's appearance.
It's in this vein that, with the debut of Canadian right-wing hack Rachel Marsden's column in the National Post (for which paper I desperately need a snarky, derogatory euphemism so put on your thinking caps), I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that you'll be able to find some kind of distortion, misinterpretation, misrepresentation or (let's just come right out and say it) an outright lie in each and every piece of crap that she writes.
As a warmup to this , I decided to pop over to her web site and test my hypothesis. Scanning down the list of previous columns for a random selection, I was grabbed by this one -- "The Dangers of Limiting Free Speech" -- always an amusing topic given the right's predilection for favouring free speech as long as it's theirs and nobody else's. So, self, I says, let's see how long it takes before I can identify the first piece of dishonest swill in that column. It didn't take long. Writes Marsden:
One of the world’s top pollsters -- Frank Luntz, who has been praised by the Right and the Left (and even Air America radio host, Al Franken) for his work -- conducted a study of Ivy League professors. He found that 79% deemed George W. Bush to be “too conservative”, compared with only 38% in the national sample; only 3% called themselves “Republican”; and 84% voted for Al Gore over George W. Bush in the 2000 Presidential Election.
How ironic (and, I swear, totally random, picked from the list of columns based on the title alone) that this piece would refer to Franken, with Marsden suggesting that Luntz is admired uniformly across the political spectrum, even by that left-wing gadfly Franken. As Jon Stewart might say, "Whaaaaaaa?".
Did Franken really praise pollster (and, as you'll see shortly, Republican hack) Frank Luntz? This bears looking into, so it's off to Google where we find, right on Luntz's web site, an apparent testimonial from Franken: "Asking Frank Luntz if he understands public opinion is like asking Julia Child if she knows how to make a soufflé." Wow. High praise, indeed. Um ... or is it?
If you read carefully, Marsden claims that Luntz was "praised" by Franken. The quote from Luntz's web site claims only that Franken believes that Luntz "understands" public opinion. And, yes, there's a difference. For example, one can opine that White House braintrust Karl Rove, even though he's a totally unprincipled, unethical hack, certainly does understand how to win an election. Put another way, I will certainly concede that Rove "understands" politics even while I think he's one of the most loathsome, sleazy bottom dwellers in politics today. See the difference? But that's just nitpicking.
What's really dishonest is for Marsden to suggest that Luntz gets high marks from the left and the right alike when most liberals have long accused Luntz of being a Republican hack. One need only pop over to Media Matters and search on "Frank Luntz" to learn what many folks think of Luntz's credibility and objectivity, such as here, here, here, here, here and here, among others. But, gee, you wouldn't know about any of that left-wing dissatisfaction from Marsden's puff piece, would you?
One of the world’s top pollsters -- Frank Luntz, who has been praised by the Right and the Left ...
Poor Rachel. Methinks she needs to get out more often. And learn to read.