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Conservatives echoed Sen. John McCain's claim that the denial was unprecedented and outrageous. Many liberals frustrated by Lieberman's opposition to
Problem was, it wasn't true. In fact, it was clear from the exchange itself that it wasn't true. But everyone reacted to an abbreviated version of the exchange.
As the exchange makes clear, when McCain responded to Franken's objection by angrily denouncing the supposedly-unprecedented action, Sen. Carl Levin immediately pointed out that, in fact, an identical denial had occured earlier in the day, and that the purpose was simply to keep debate moving.
Indeed, pretty much everybody involved has made clear it was really no big deal. (Except for McCain, but we'll come back to him.)
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."
But the facts didn't get in the way of the media's -- and the right-wing's -- efforts to paint Franken as a vindictive partisan.
The right-wing reaction was predictable. Blogger Ann Althouse called it a "dick move" and suggested a boycott of Minnesota. Michelle Malkin accused "nutroots hero Al Franken" of "a little snit fit against Lieberman." Red State's
But the overwhelming certainty of the Beltway crowd was stunning.
On Hardball Thursday, Chris Matthews was shocked (accessed from Nexis):
Remember, the same thing had happened earlier in the day. And that previous occurrence was mentioned by Levin during the Franken/Lieberman/McCain exchange. And yet Matthews kept insisting it was unique, coming back to it again and again. Later in the show, Matthews hosted
Henneberger insisted (from Nexis):
But Lieberman wasn't the "first one to have the clock called on him." As Carl Levin made clear. Where on earth did Henneberger get the idea that he was? She obviously hadn't checked, so why on earth would she feel comfortable making such an assertion?
Over on CNN's Situation Room, senior political analyst
Friday morning, the media continued to pile on
On Morning Joe, Lawrence O'Donnell declared "I've never seen [this] before. I spent a lot of years on the Senate floor. I did not know that the presiding officer could do that. I thought only a member up in the body could object. But it turns out you can." David Gregory went yammering on about Franken trying to "make a mark" and being a "liberal Senator" who dislikes Lieberman and "working the levers of power."
And then this exchange:
Seriously, that wasn't even the first time it had happened yesterday. And the previous time, when Begich told Cornyn his time was up, he used the exact same wording. Because that's the wording they had been told to use.
Meanwhile, over at
And Gretchen Carlson suggested Franken was part of a "trend" of "newbie politicians that don't know exactly the protocol," adding, "You have the senior senator John McCain saying I've never seen this happen before, and the freshman senator
Remember: The "senior senator John McCain" was wrong; it had happened just a few hours earlier. And the "freshman senator Al Franken" was doing exactly what leadership had told all presiding officers to do.
Not only was McCain wrong about what happened yesterday, his comments were entirely hypocritical. As Think Progress' Faiz Shakir notes, McCain himself objected to Sen.
And yet on Friday, McCain was still making the same false and hypocritical claim and the media were airing his comments without checking them out. (While
The "story" -- if there is one -- of yesterday's exchange should have been that McCain was wrong, and a hypocrite, in his angry denunciation of Franken's objection.
Lazy journalism is bad.
Lazy journalism practiced by D.C. political analysts who insist they know what they're talking about is even worse.
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