During the December 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade repeatedly attacked Sen. Al Franken -- calling him "uncivil," a "newbie," and "an angry clown" -- for denying Sen. Joe Lieberman extra speaking time on the Senate floor. The Fox & Friends hosts ignored that, in fact, Franken, Lieberman, and Majority Leader Harry Reid all stated on December 17 that Franken was following Reid's orders not to grant any speech extensions.
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Fox & Friends hosts attack Franken for denying Lieberman extra speech time
Kilmeade: Franken "is an angry clown. He's a liberal who's mad at Joe Lieberman." Kilmeade stated that Franken was an "angry comedian" and "now he's an angry senator." Kilmeade also stated that Franken "needs to be chastised by Senator Reid. ... He needs somebody in his own party that has power over him to say, 'Al, you're embarrassing us.' " He later stated, "He's an angry clown. He's a liberal who's mad at Joe Lieberman for standing up for his conscience."
Carlson: Franken is part of "trend" of "newbie politicians that don't know exactly the protocol." Carlson suggested that Franken is part of a "trend" of "newbie politicians that don't know exactly the protocol." She later added, "You have the senior senator John McCain saying I've never seen this happen before, and the freshman senator Al Franken maybe not knowing how the rules are played."
Doocy: "Stay classy, Al Franken." Doocy stated during the program that Franken was "uncivil" and "not very polite" in the "snippy" exchange. He later added, "Stay classy, Al Franken."
But Franken, Reid, Lieberman say Franken was following request not to grant extensions
Franken: "I really just had no choice." Minnesota Public Radio reported on December 17 that "Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions" for senators of either party:
Franken says he wasn't trying to slight Lieberman and in fact supports the amendment to the health care bill Lieberman was discussing.
"I agreed with every word he said for the entire 10 minutes, and I think he probably only had maybe 30 seconds left," he said. "He didn't take it personally at all."
Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions.
"Usually you're allowed to do this and, just, today we were told not to let it happen because there's been some attempt to string out the debate," Franken said. "So, I really just had no choice."
Reid's office reportedly said Franken was adhering to his request. Minneapolis Star Tribune correspondent Eric Roper reported on December 17: "A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Franken was merely adhering to a request from Reid to strictly enforce the rules because the Senate is already in session practically 'round the clock.' " Politico reported on December 18 that Reid spokesman Jim Manley stated of Reid's request, "We did that to maintain order and that no senator had an unfair advantage over another in terms of speaking. ... It was a simple request of the leader and Sen. Franken was adhering to the request of his leadership."
Wash. Post: Lieberman said Franken "was following procedures ... handed down by Senate leaders." On December 17, The Washington Post's Joel Achenbach reported:
Lieberman laughed off the incident as much ado about nothing when he returned to the chamber a couple of hours later. He said that Franken apparently was following procedures for sticking to time limits that had been handed down by Senate leaders. Franken had made a good-natured gesture with his hands, Lieberman said, "as if to say 'There's nothing I can do'."
Lieberman said he appreciated his good friend McCain coming to his defense.
"No hard feelings," he said.
Sen. Begich similarly objected to request by Sen. Cornyn for more time earlier in the day
McClatchy: Begich also "asked to limit everyone to 10-minute speeches." Politico reported that "[e]arlier on the floor, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), presiding over the Senate, objected to Sen. John Cornyn's (R-Texas) request for additional time to speak -- clearly annoying Cornyn." McClatchy reported that Begich "had been asked to limit everyone to 10-minute speeches to speed up proceedings" and that "Cornyn's spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said they quickly figured out it was 'obviously procedural.' "