Several Fox News hosts have expressed bewilderment, disappointment, and denial about Al Franken's victory in the Minnesota Senate race.
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After Norm Coleman conceded the 2008 Minnesota Senate race to Al Franken (D), several Fox News hosts expressed bewilderment, disappointment, and denial about the outcome. For instance, Glenn Beck said of Franken's victory, "[I]t shows how crazy our country has gone." He added: "[I]t shows that we've lost our minds." Sean Hannity claimed that Franken is "not all there," and later claimed, "I, in my heart of hearts, do not believe that Al Franken won that election." And Brian Kilmeade said he's "in denial" about Franken, who he said was "barely sane." Gretchen Carlson responded to Kilmeade by again falsely claiming that Coleman "won in the original election."
As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox News personalities have repeatedly promoted baseless claims of fraud in the Minnesota race and claimed that there was a lack of impartiality in the recount process to accuse Franken of "stealing" the election. However, in its unanimous 5-0 ruling, the Minnesota Supreme Court stated that "[n]o claim of fraud in the election or during the recount was made by either party" and that "Coleman's counsel confirmed at oral argument that Coleman makes no claim of fraud on the part of either voters or election officials." The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that experts said there was a "lack of crookedness in the election" and that Loyola Law School election law professor Rick Hasen "said the court's ruling Tuesday was so thorough that it also ruled out the possibility that either candidate -- or their lawyers -- could be accused of stealing the election."
Beck said on The O'Reilly Factor: "You don't want me as a senator. This is -- what is that? I mean, this is the -- it's -- it shows how crazy our country has gone. You don't want me as a senator. You don't want Al Franken as a senator." Beck added: "[I]t shows that we've lost our minds. It's like we've slipped through a worm hole. It's like this looks like the country I grew up in, but, no -- Al Franken would never be a senator." Beck also claimed that "Franken coming into office" means we "have entered a place to where there isn't statesmanship anymore."
During the June 30 edition of his program, Hannity suggested vote fraud by claiming, "[Y]ou have counties as they did in Minnesota where you had more votes than you did people registered to vote on Election Day." While Hannity did not expand on his claim, a May 28 Minneapolis Star Tribune article reported that a conservative group, the Minnesota Majority, sued Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, claiming that "vote totals from [Minnesota election] canvassing boards exceed the stated number of registered voters by 406,398." The Star Tribune article stated that Minnesota Majority's report on registration listed one county as "having zero registered voters." The article also said that "Ritchie disputed the claims" in the lawsuit. From the article:
Ritchie said Thursday that his office updated voter registration lists in April and continues to do so. "All lists are updated every day of the week," he said. "People die, people move. The counties continuously update the lists."
He said the goal was to match voter registration and the certified canvassing board totals within 1,000 names. "You'll never get a perfect correlation between the two," he said. "We were at 40,000 in April. We're at about 30,000 now."
Ritchie said he didn't know why some counties turned up with zero registered voters in Minnesota Majority's report. "Their number is so far different from the actual number in the database that it's not possible for me to speak to it," he said.
Aitkin County was listed in the report as having zero registered voters and 9,455 certified ballots. But Auditor Kirk Peysar said his county had reported its registered voters and that the number matched the ballots.
Previously, as Media Matters noted, on January 5, Hannity said of the recount, "We've got one county -- ended up with 177 more ballots." Hannity's guest, Fox News contributor Dick Morris, added, "Yeah, Ramsey County -- 177 more ballots than people voted." In fact, according to a December 14 Star Tribune article, which cited election officials explaining human and technological errors in the voting process, a "machine jammed in Maplewood, resulting in 177 ballots going uncounted until the final day of the recount in Ramsey County."
On the July 1 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said to his co-hosts, "Just don't tell me Al Franken won until the end of the show." After Carlson noted that Franken won, Kilmeade said, "I'm in denial still." Kilmeade later said that Franken is "barely sane if you read his books, and quite angry in every facet of his life." When Kilmeade asked former Minnesotan Carlson to "explain yourself," Carlson said: "Excuse me, I'm under personal attack. I haven't lived there since I was 17, but I do still consider it home, and I have nothing to do with the political process there."
Carlson then falsely claimed that "Coleman won in the original election, but after the recount that some considered suspicious, Franken is now the new senator." Carlson previously claimed on April 3: "[T]he last time I checked, Norm Coleman won the election after election night." However, while Coleman was ahead in the vote count after election night, he was not certified the winner; state law mandated a recount because of the closeness of the results. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly has similarly repeatedly falsely claimed Coleman "was certified the winner" in the race.
Later during the program, Kilmeade said of Franken: "[L]et's talk about who's safe now that Al Franken's going to be in the Senate. He's a senator from Minnesota -- yes, I said it out loud, and it hurts, but I said it."
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
BECK: It makes me very sad that we are living in a country -- look, I have no problem when President Bush did something wrong, saying he did something wrong, and saying he did something right. Same with President Obama. President Obama is my president. I didn't vote for him. I think that he is way off base.
But he's still my president. I still support the office of the United States. It is -- we have entered a place, I mean, with Al Franken coming into office, we've entered a place to where there isn't statesmanship anymore. The president has not elevated himself to a higher standard.
MONICA CROWLEY (guest host): All right, let's move on to Al Franken.
CROWLEY: So, we've got Norm Coleman, the incumbent Republican senator who put up a very valiant effort over many months. He has now conceded. The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, now says he will certify Al Franken as his replacement in the Senate. This gives the Democrats a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority. What does this mean?
BECK: This is like having me in the Senate. You don't want me as a senator. This is -- what is that? I mean --
CROWLEY: Al Franken.
BECK: -- this is the -- it's -- it shows how crazy our country has gone. You don't want me as a senator. You don't want Al Franken as a senator.
CROWLEY: Glenn, doesn't it show that anything is possible in America?
BECK: No. It seems -- it shows that we've lost our minds. It's like we've slipped through a worm hole. It's like this looks like the country I grew up in, but, no -- Al Franken would never be a senator.
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: Well, do you think now, with a filibuster-proof Senate, and our good friend -- who, by the way, folks --
MICHAEL STEELE (Republican National Committee chairman): Yeah.
HANNITY: -- this guy, Franken, he's not all there. All right. But do you think with him in a filibuster-proof Senate, do you think this is now problematic for the Republicans to stop it in the Senate?
STEELE: No, I don't think it's problematic for this reason: because unlike the House, the Blue Dogs in the Senate do not have the cover that Nancy Pelosi gave the Blue Dogs in the House.
They could afford to vote against this bill because they had the votes they needed to get it passed. And the Senate is a different story. You're much more exposed. Every vote counts, every vote is on the board, and I think it's going to be a lot harder for those Blue Dogs, especially, to stand up there and then go back home and justify --
STEELE: -- raising people's utility bills as they want -- as this administration plans to do.
HANNITY: All right. What do you think -- I believe that Norm Coleman -- when you have counties as they did in Minnesota where you had more votes than you did people registered to vote on Election Day, and when you have different standards apply, I understand why he took it this far, and I understand why he stopped it today. He did it for the people of Minnesota.
HANNITY: But I, in my heart of hearts, do not believe that Al Franken won that election. Do you?
STEELE: I don't either. I think that this is just craziness at its worst here. You have one part of the state that voted where the ballots were accepted, and other parts where ballots weren't accepted with the exact same vote.
It makes no sense. They were counting folks who, you know, in counties that didn't exist. I mean, the whole thing is suspect at best. But, look, my hat goes out to my good friend Norm Coleman.
He fought the good fight. He really was a good public servant for the folks of Minnesota. I think they're going to rue the day on this vote. I think they already have, Sean, quite frankly. I've talked to enough Democrats in the state --
STEELE: -- who said, you know, if we could do a do-over, the results, I think, would be a little bit different.
From the July 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Meanwhile, it's only taken eight months, but Minnesota finally knows who their next senator will be. But it's more than just a victory for Al Franken. Can you say supermajority? We're going to explain all that.
KILMEADE: Just don't tell me Al Franken won until the end of the show.
KILMEADE: Meanwhile, at the top of the hour, so much going in all facets of the news world, from Michael Jackson to Honduras and more.
CARLSON: And to Al Franken in Minnesota, the new senator.
KILMEADE: I'm in denial still.
CARLSON: But let's start with -- let's start with Iraq.
KILMEADE: I would relabel that. How about this bizarre -- you thought it was crazy when a wrestler became governor of your fun city. I thought that was a little --
KILMEADE: -- insane -- state. And then all of a sudden we got a chance to meet him, and he was even crazier than we thought. Now we find out that Al Franken, who's barely sane if you read his books, and quite angry in every facet of his life, is now the senator from Minnesota. Explain yourself, Gretchen.
CARLSON: Excuse me, I'm under personal attack. I haven't lived there since I was 17, but I do still consider it home, and I have nothing to do with the political process there. But Al Franken is the new senator from Minnesota. Norm Coleman said enough is enough yesterday.
The Minnesota Supreme Court came back and said that those couple hundred votes that Franken got in the recount -- remember, Coleman won in the original election, but after the recount that some considered suspicious, Franken is now the new senator, and Coleman says I'm not going to take this to the United States Supreme Court.
COLEMAN [video clip]: I just had a conversation with Al Franken congratulating him on his victory, and I told him it's the best job that he'll ever have, representing the people of the people of the Minnesota.
FRANKEN [video clip]: I received a very gracious call from Senator Coleman a little while ago. He wished me well. I wished him well. And we agreed that it is time to bring this state together.
DOOCY: So they got a comedian in charge -- the junior senator from the great state, the land of 10,000 comedians, Minnesota.
KILMEADE: But straight ahead, let's talk about who's safe now that Al Franken's going to be in the Senate. He's a senator from Minnesota -- yes, I said it out loud, and it hurts, but I said it. The huge impact on the balance of power in Washington.