Appearing last night on CNN’s Larry King Live, Al Franken said that firing Don Imus was the “right decision,” but pointed out that CNN has its own anchor who regularly spews hateful and bigoted remarks.
“CNN has Glenn Beck on,” Franken told King. “Glenn Beck asked my congressman, Keith Ellison, who is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, you know, I just want to ask you, how do I know that you’re not working with the enemy? … I don’t know why that wasn’t grounds for CNN thinking, well, maybe Glenn Beck shouldn’t be on. I mean, how dare he say that to a congressman who has just been elected?”
King asked Franken, “With a lot of [controversial remarks] going on, are you calling for other dismissals?” Franken said, “No, I’m not. Just Glenn Beck on your network.” Watch it:
Some recent low-lights from Glenn Beck:
The anti-gay slur “faggot” is nothing more than “a naughty name.” [1/23/07]
“[Hillary Clinton is] the stereotypical bitch.” [3/15/07]
“What happened to the Duke lacrosse team was practically a lynching without the rope. And for the first time in my life, Mr. Oreo Cookie without the chocolate on the outside can understand why people celebrated when O.J. Simpson was acquitted.” [1/15/07, using a racial slur for African-Americans that refers to "being black on the outside and white on the inside]
“I wonder if I’m alone in this — you know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims’ families? Took me about a year.” [9/9/05]
“And that’s all we’re hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.” [9/9/05]
(HT: My Two Sense)
FRANKEN: Well, the best thing to come out of this was the women from — from the Rutgers team. I thought they were eloquent. I thought they were dignified. I thought it was — I especially loved what one of them said about two — or three of her teammates.
She said, so and so is the big sister I never heard. So and so is the funniest person in the world. And so and so is going to make a great attorney. This guy doesn’t know anything about us.
And I think that just underlined it so well, that this was totally inappropriate, totally wrong. He didn’t know anything about them. And I hope gets the chance to talk to them, and I hope at least something good comes out of this.
You know, I — Ed Schultz was saying that everyone’s talking about this. I was up in Minnesota today with a group of seniors from seven counties. This wasn’t a senior home. This was seniors who were caring about policy. And they are debating global warming and health care, and they were — they weren’t talking about this at all.
It obviously is an important thing, it’s a big thing, but they were talking about things…
KING: Let’s stay — I’ll get to that. But let’s stay with I-Man for a couple of minutes.
FRANKEN: OK. Sure.
KING: Is it forgivable? Should CBS let him stay on?
FRANKEN: You know, it’s — it’s their choice. I think — I think NBC made the right decision. I think cable news is cable news. And he has that position.
I have heard a lot of talk radio — now, I will give you an example. CNN has Glenn Beck on. Glenn Beck asked my congressman, Keith Ellison, who is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, you know, I just want to ask you, how do I know that you’re not working with the enemy?
And he said that — I think he said it on CNN. But he certainly is — he’s on CNN. I don’t know why that wasn’t grounds for CNN thinking, well, maybe Glenn Beck shouldn’t be on. I mean, how dare he say that to a congressman who has just been elected?
And I hear this kind of thing a lot of time. I monitored a lot of right-wing radio when I was doing my show and before it. And I’ve heard Rush Limbaugh say things that are worse than this.
And so, I don’t know.
KING: Does that make thing then forgivable since others are doing it? You know, if you go, 40, 50 miles an hour, it’s not an excuse if other people do it and they stop you. But should he be at least given some rope? FRANKEN: I don’t know if I buy the analogy, but I’m not glad I’m making this decision. This is up to CBS’ management. Let’s put it that way.
KING: You wouldn’t want to be in the position to have to make it?
FRANKEN: Well, if I were, I would make it, but that’s not my decision, thank you. That’s the answer.
KING: With a lot of it going on, are you calling for other dismissals?
FRANKEN: No, I’m not. Just Glenn Beck on your network.
KING: Just Glenn Beck.
KING: He’s on “HEADLINE NEWS,” right?
FRANKEN: Well, “HEADLINE NEWS” is part of CNN. And…
KING: Have you been on the Imus show?
FRANKEN: I have. I have been on a couple of times over the years. And, you know, after he did the White House — or no, it wasn’t White House correspondent — it was the Radio and TV Correspondents Dinner.
FRANKEN: I criticized him then, so we were on the outs. And, you know, one of the worst parts about this, I think, is that he used the defense it was a joke.
Now, Larry, I know that you loved Lenny Bruce. And Lenny Bruce offended people all the time. But there was always an actual point behind it, right?
KING: Correct. Correct.
FRANKEN: There was a joke. The joke meant something. It was about societal hypocrisy. Whatever it was about.
This was — I don’t get this joke. And I don’t get the idea of having — you k now, as someone who has had a radio show, of having a kind of racist sidekick. Which I guess is what it is.
I don’t listen to Imus enough. But isn’t it — was that the concept of a show, I’m going to have a vaguely racist sidekick?
KING: I don’t think that’s the concept of the show. It covers everything.
FRANKEN: OK. KING: It has major political figures, as you know.
FRANKEN: Yes, I know. I know, and that’s — he’s sort of trying to be a shock jock and be Tim Russert. And that’s a needle you have to thread, and I think it’s threadable. And I guess he just didn’t do it.
He hasn’t done it.
KING: Up next…
FRANKEN: It’s a terrible thing.