FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Thursday, August 23, 2012

REALLY? Weekly Standard Stretches Too Far Trying To Tit-For-Tat On Akin-Rape Comments Fallout

One of the oldest plays in the political playbook is to fall back on the "Oh yeah, well the other guys are just as bad" line.  The conservative magazine The Weekly Standard is brushing off an out of context snippet first raised in Senator Al Franken's (D-MN) 2008 campaign.

Franken used to be a comedy writer and performer on NBC's Saturday Night Live.  The Weekly Standard is now claiming that he is also "famous" for joking about raping CBS reporter Lesley Stahl.  In a blog post this morning that is sure to get tons of attention from Republicans and talk show hosts (and guests), The Weekly Standard claims "Senator Famous for Joking About Rape Campaigns for Obama, Biden."

As proof of Franken's rape-joking fame, they cite a 1995 New Yorker article about the fall of SNL (one of many "falls" of the long-running late night program).

Franken: “And, ‘I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then, when Lesley’s passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.’ Or, ‘That’s why you never see Lesley until February.’ Or, ‘When she passes out, I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.’” (emphasis added by W.S.)
The only problem is that the quote does not hold up in context.  The Weekly Standard is obviously hoping that most of its readers and echoers will not search the link for the full context.  The New Yorker reporter (not reporter Stahl, as the W.S. blurb implies) sat in on a writing session.  Here is the full context:

 Meanwhile, they make grudging progress on a sketch written by Norm MacDonald. It’s a parody of Andy Rooney—not exactly a fresh target. Rooney, played by MacDonald, is cleaning out his desk and finds a bottle of sedatives, empty except for cotton.“Should I mention cotton more than once?” MacDonald asks, and it’s debated for ten minutes. No—just one cotton reference stays in, but now they can’t decide whether the pills are for the treatment of “hallucinations,” “mood swings,” “dementia,” or “NRA dementia.”
“That’s too much,” Downey says. “It’s his attitude that’s funny, the fact that he’s ignoring something that’s obviously important.”
MacDonald: “So I can say, ‘I don’t know what the pills are for—what I do know is, the bottle is mostly filled with cotton.’”
Franken: “And, ‘I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then, when Lesley’s passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.’ Or, ‘That’s why you never see Lesley until February.’ Or, ‘When she passes out, I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.’”
Downey: “‘Here’s a picture of Ed Bradley.’”
MacDonald: “What if Rooney rapes Mike Wallace? And then says, ‘I guess that makes me bad.’ Is it funnier with a black guy? Or two old white guys?”
Franken: “What about, ‘I drag Mike into my office and rape him. Right here! I guess that makes me bad.’”
The discussion sputters for another ten minutes. Then the writers lose interest and drift over to the newly arrived food. “C’mon!” Downey says plaintively. “Let’s finish this!”
The sketches eventually get tighter and marginally better. Mostly, all this group writing produces a thin comedy mush. “It’s now a much more fey, effete, overthought show,” says Rosie Shuster, who did her third tour on the writing staff during the late eighties. “The cud is so well chewed before it goes on the air.”
He is suggesting different possible lines for Andy Rooney to use regarding his missing sedatives in an obvious attempt at comedy - no matter how distasteful.

If Daniel Halper, an editor at TWS who wrote the post, really believes that there is an equivalence and that Obama/Biden should distance themselves from Franken as TWS is trying to do with Akin's seriously-made comments (in a campaign), then he is the one who may be taking a stab at comedy.





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