Times Not Totally Frank About Al Franken's Senate Run

A front-page story on Al Franken's run for Senate skipped the controversies over Air America and Franken's "joke" about executing Karl Rove, Lewis Libby and President Bush.

He's good enough, he's smart enough, and the Times kind of likes him: That's the thrust of Wednesday's front-page story by Monica Davey on Saturday Night Live comedian turned left-wing activist Al Franken, "Comedian Says Minnesota Run Is a Serious One."

Although Davey glided by "Franken's deeply partisan stump speech" and let the chairman of the state GOP criticize Franken's past "vile and offensive" comments, the Times never drilled down for details like this: Back on October 21, 2005, Franken went on David Letterman's show and joked about executing Karl Rove, Lewis Libby and President Bush for treason (the "crime" of leaking Valerie Plame's name). Davey also didn't mention the state investigation into the finances of the left-wing talk radio network Air America Franken was a star of (and which the Times has a history of ignoring). Instead, Davey stuck to positives.

"Minnesotans have come to understand that this bid by Mr. Franken, odd or not, is anything but a joke. Since Mr. Franken, who grew up in Minnesota, announced his candidacy in February, he has traveled the state frenetically, attending hundreds of forums and luncheons and rallies and leaving even his critics conceding that he has worked awfully hard.

"Most convincing are the polls, which show Mr. Franken and Mike Ciresi, a well-known lawyer who has run for office before, at the top of the field of Democrats. More importantly perhaps, polls have shown Mr. Franken (and, separately, Mr. Ciresi) as competitive challengers to Senator Norm Coleman, the first-term Republican whose seat is up next year and whom Democrats have identified as among the most vulnerable incumbents nationally."


"Still, along the streets here, the benefits of national fame are all around. One blustery, bitterly cold afternoon, as Mr. Franken went door-to-door in St. Paul urging voters to support a local City Council hopeful, he was met by greetings that most first-time politicians could only dream of.

"'My hero!' one man actually hollered when Mr. Franken came to his door, and the man ran to fetch his wife. At a Democratic wine and cheese event in Minneapolis, clusters of people flocked to Mr. Franken and he posed for snapshots while some of the other candidates looked on uncomfortably.

"Why would a comedian, an author, a commentator want to run for the Senate in the first place? For a moment, Mr. Franken sounded exactly like a candidate.

"'There's nothing better than making people laugh unless it's improving peoples' lives,' he said. 'As you go around Minnesota, I hear from people. I hear about their lives. And they're anxious about the future.'"