CBS's Norah O'Donnell to Al Franken: 'It's Great to See You in the United States Senate'

CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell on Monday gushed over comedian turned Democratic Senator Al Franken. With no pretense, she told the liberal politician, "...It's great to see you in the United States Senate. But, you know, we all remember you from Saturday Night Live." [MP3 audio here.] "We grew up" watching you, the journalist added. 

Franken was given five and a half minutes of air time to talk about his thoughts on a potential merger between cable giants Comcast and Time Warner. Yet, O'Donnell still found time for breezy questions such as asking, "Do you go back at all to watch SNL?... Don't we need more humor in the United States Congress?"

Earlier in the segment, guest co-host Anthony Mason brought up the subject of data collection and privacy. He questioned,  "Should the government be looking at regulating what's happening with this information?" 

Yet nowhere in the segment did Mason, O'Donnell or co-host Gayle King mention Barack Obama. Considering that Franken's party controls the Senate and the White House, it might make sense to question Democratic culpability related to NSA spying and other examples of data collection. 

On the subject of the Comcast/Time Warner merger, O'Donnell offered very basic, generic questions: "Can you block this merger?" 

A partial transcript of the March 10 CBS This Morning segment is below: 

NORAH O'DONNELL: Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken is with us this morning. He sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and .later this month that group will hold hearings on the proposed merger by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The $45 billion deal would give Comcast subscribers in 43 of the nation's top 50 markets. That's about 30 percent of paid TV customers. Senator Franken, good morning. 

AL FRANKEN: Good morning. 

O'DONNELL: Can you block this merger? 

FRANKEN: Well, I can't block it. It would be up to the regulators. But I wrote them when I heard about this immediately and expressed my concerns, which is that this will be bad for consumers of TV, cable TV and the internet. Comcast is the number one provider of cable TV, the number one provider of the internet. Time Warner is the number two provider of cable TV and the number three provider of internet. And I think this will be -- I think consumers will end up paying more. There will be less competition. There will be less innovation and worse, even worse service. 


MASON: You mentioned the internet. Both of these companies provide internet service. 60 Minutes did a report last night about how much inform something's being harvested from consumers all over America. Should the government be looking at regulating what's happening with this information? 

FRANKEN: Yeah. Well, I've been looking at it. I'm chairman of the Privacy, Technology, and the Law Subcommittee and there's a lot of disturbing stuff up there. You saw it last night on 60 Minutes. I really believe that Americans have a right to privacy, that they have a right to know what's being taken, what of their private information something's being taken, and to give permission. If they're going to take their private information such as your location information, that says where you go to the doctor, where you drop your kids off at school, where you live, where you work, what you do. Last night's 60 Minutes story was a very good one. I urge you to -- that's on CBS, isn't it? 

KING: Yes, Senator, it is. 

FRANKEN: So, I have a piece of legislation I'll be reintroducing. It passed last Congress in the Senate committee. 

O'DONNELL: And Senator, can I just say, you know, it's great to see you in the United States Senate. But, you know, we all remember you from Saturday Night Live. We all grew up --

FRANKEN: Thanks for remembering. 

O'DONNELL: Do you still go back at all?

FRANKEN: Do I what? 

O'DONNELL: Go back at all to watch SNL? 

FRANKEN: I watch the show. I'm a big fan of the show. It's – you know – I think we're in our 39th year. The show's in its 39th year.  

O'DONNELL: Don't we need more humor in the United States Congress? 


KING: Well, some would say mission accomplished then. 

FRANKEN: See? Very good. See who's funny here? [Pointing to Gayle.] 

— Scott Whitlock is Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Scott Whitlock on Twitter.