O'Reilly promotes misinformation to attack Franken-Lieberman exchange as "disrespect[ful]"


Bill O'Reilly attacked Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) as a "punk" for denying Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) request for additional speaking time on the Senate floor, aired Sen. John McCain's criticism of Franken's actions as unprecedented, and allowed Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to claim that Franken was "[a]bsolutely not" telling the truth when Franken explained that he was instructed by Democratic leadership to strictly adhere to Senate rules that establish a 10-minute speaking limit. But in addition to Franken, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Lieberman himself reportedly agree that Franken was following instructions; another Democratic senator denied a similar request earlier the same day while presiding over the Senate; and McCain has reportedly objected to a request for additional speaking time in the past.

O'Reilly lets McCain and DeMint attack "punk" Franken

O'Reilly airs McCain's claim that Franken's actions were unprecedented. From the December 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Franken, who was in a rotation presiding over the Senate, objected to Lieberman continuing his remarks in a stunning display of disrespect.


[video clip]

FRANKEN: In my capacity as senator from Minnesota, I object.

LIEBERMAN: Really? OK, I don't take it personally.

[end video clip]

O'REILLY: But many others did take it personally, including John McCain.

McCAIN [video clip]: I've been around here 20-some years. First time I've ever seen a member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks.

O'Reilly lets DeMint claim Franken was "[a]bsolutely not" telling the truth that leadership instructed him to strictly enforce the rules. From The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Now, Franken defended himself on the radio today. I want you to react to this. Roll the tape.

FRANKEN [audio clip]: When you're presiding, you really have no choice on what to do. And, you know, the leader -- the majority leader is the leader of the Senate, and he gave me -- gave all of us today who were presiding instructions that no one was to speak over 10 minutes, and because there's been some attempt to string out the debate. So, I really just had no choice.

O'REILLY: Is Franken telling the truth?

DeMINT: Absolutely not. I can't believe he's throwing Harry Reid under the bus.

O'Reilly and Goldberg call Franken a "punk" and a "petty" "mean-spirited doofus" for enforcing rules. Discussing the floor debate, Fox News contributor Bernard Goldberg stated, "Look, is Al Franken a mean-spirited doofus? Of course he is. Should he have been more generous with Lieberman? Of course he should. Was he petty, as you said in your talk? Yes." After O'Reilly rejected the suggestion that Democratic leadership instructed Franken to strictly enforce the rules, he stated, "Look, there's no shortage of villainy going on right now on Capitol Hill, but I think everybody ought to know who the people of Minnesota put in the Senate." After lauding Lieberman as a good man, O'Reilly said, "That punk Franken, he -- you know, he just demeans the whole body." [The O'Reilly Factor, 12/18/09]

Reid and Lieberman reportedly confirm that Franken was following instructions

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.

Franken's actions were not unprecedented

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.' "

Think Progress: McCain objected to request for extended speaking time during Iraq war debate. In October 2002, McCain reportedly objected to requests for extensions during debate on the authorization of the use of military force against Iraq.

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