“Is This His First Interview?”

That’s what a reader wondered about the interview I just did on Al Franken’s Air America show. “This is absolutely unlistenable,” he continued. Another reader wrote: “I can’t believe you forced me to listen to that dreck!”
Well, I didn’t exactly force him, but you get the picture. I can say without hesitation that it was the stupidest interview I have ever been involved in. Franken was interested in one subject only, himself, and devoted the entire time to quizzing me about posts we have done over the years that mentioned him. Unfortunately, the only time I’ve ever mentioned Franken in a post was a year and a half ago, and I had no memory of it, which didn’t exactly make for scintillating radio.
When Franken’s producer asked me to do the show, the idea was that Nick Coleman would be on first, talking about the column he wrote about us, and then I would be on to respond to what he said. However, Franken began the interview with me by saying that he wasn’t interested in talking about the Coleman column, and started in with questions about whether he (Franken) is funny or not. So I never said a word about the attack on us which Coleman had just repeated.
For the record, a few quick comments: First, Coleman’s account of his column and our response to it omitted some basic facts, like the correction and the clarification that the Strib was forced to issue because of Coleman’s inaccuracies.
Second, Coleman repeated (or at least hinted at) the slander he first asserted on Air America, and then repeated in his Strib column; that is, that we are secretly on the payroll of some sinister think tank. Today he phrased this slur artfully, saying that Richard Scaife funds the Claremont Institute (I have no idea whether that’s true or not; if so, it’s a good thing), and the “Power Line guys come from the Claremont Institute.” So a casual listener would get the impression that we are somehow on the Scaife payroll. In fact, as we have said repeatedly in response to Coleman’s false claims, no one pays us to write for this site. We don’t “come from” the Claremont Institute, although we bear the mostly-honorary title of “Fellows” of the Institute. That means that they occasionally print stuff that we write. The Trunk does contribute money to Claremont, but no cash, alas, flows in the other direction.
Third, Coleman triumphantly claimed to have caught TCF chairman Bill Cooper in a lie; Cooper was quoted as saying that he didn’t even know about Power Line “until the Time article.” But Coleman quoted from an article in the Grand Forks, North Dakota newspaper which predated Coleman’s column, in which the Trunk said that Cooper “has been very supportive” of his work. Franken seemed to think this was a good point. What neither Coleman nor Franken understood, however, is that there have been two Time articles about us. The first one was in September, after the Dan Rather episode, when we were on the magazine’s cover. It was the first Time article that alerted Mr. Cooper to the existence of this site.
Coleman really needs to be more careful about throwing around these careless accusations.
Finally, Franken didn’t seem too impressed by Coleman, and toward the end he asked what it is exactly that Coleman has against us. Coleman’s answer was that “they don’t disclose their connections.” Really? What connections? The only “connection” mentioned by Coleman was the Trunk’s relationship with TCF. However, if you click on the “About Us” link, the very first sentence about the Trunk says: “Scott W. Johnson is an attorney and senior vice president of TCF National Bank in Minneapolis.” Wow, Nick, you’ve really got us there!
Enough said. In fact, too much said. The emails continue to pour in. Rick Vatsaas writes: “That had to be the worst radio interview I ever heard.” Yes, I’m afraid that’s true. If I ever go on Franken’s show again, I’ll insist on talking about something that I know and care about. That is, something other than Al Franken.
UPDATE: Right Thoughts captured the audio–don’t ask me why–and has put it up, so if you want to, you can listen to the worst 15 minutes in the history of radio. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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