Franken vs. Coulter

I sifted through my DVD screeners last night trying to find my copy of Al Franken: And God Spoke (Balcony, 9.13), the Chris Hegedus-Nick Doob doc about Franken’s political adventures over the last two or three years . The doc became a bit of a hot news item yesterday thanks to the censorious instincts of right-wing harridan Ann Coulter, as this Anthony Kaufman/Indiewire item explains.
My intent was to find that debate scene between Franken and Coulter taped at Hartford’s Connecticut Forum on 5.14.04. It’s being cut from the final release print because Coulter and/or moderator Steve Roberts (most likely the former) won’t sign a release form, and I wanted to at least provide a visual recording of this scene.
But I can’t find the damn screener…great. And nobody, surprisingly, has yet posted the video clip on YouTube.
The apparent reason Coulter has refused to okay the footage is because she looks small-minded in a clip in which Roberts asks she and Franken which historical figure they would like to be. Coulter says she’d like to be Franklin D. Roosevelt so she could prevent the New Deal, and Franken says he’d like to be Adolf Hitler so he could prevent the Holocaust. Critics have allegedly been advised to “not mention this scene in your reviews or coverage.”

52 thoughts on “Franken vs. Coulter

  1. NYCBusybody on said:

    They’re both obnoxious twits, and they both do more harm than good for their respective political sides.

  2. Of course, another way to look at it is that Coulter says something which makes a somewhat novel point and could lead to further interesting discussion, and Franken says the most obvious thing, which no one could argue with and which ends the discussion right there.
    Guess which one gets invited on TV more often because they know how to keep the debate moving.
    Me, I’d become Hitler, and stop myself.

  3. D’oh! Scratch that last half-formed thought which wound up repeating what Franken said. Guess I won’t be on TV either!

  4. Jon Stewart once said that anyone, in any political debate, who brings up the words “Nazi” or “Hitler” to win a point in their favor should automatically have to stop arguing.
    Franken obviously doesn’t agree. I think it’s lame, but what are you gonna do. He’s a self-righteous blowhard.
    And the less said about Coulter the better. Ignore her and she’ll go away.

  5. “The apparent reason Coulter has refused to okay the footage is because she looks small-minded in a clip in which Roberts asks she and Franken which historical figure they would like to be. Coulter says she’d like to be Franklin D. Roosevelt so she could prevent the New Deal”
    But… looking small-minded is her whole shtick, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what she does every damn day — it’s what sells books, no? the FDR comment is actually rather tame compared to most of her ravings.

  6. “I mean, that’s what she does every damn day — it’s what sells books, no?”
    Of course. Everytime someone in the press, like Wells, tears their hair out mentioning her name with venom, she slyly smiles.
    This is what rabblerousers do. They love being hated. They want the attention. It’s the whole point.
    Ignore her and she’ll go away.

  7. Wrong, NYCBB, she isn’t going anywhere, unfortunately.
    Her books keep selling, her media appearances keep multiplying.
    Fascism has never looked so pretty.

  8. I’m a little confused about protocol. Does everyone in Micheal Moore’s docs sign release waivers? Did Wolfiwitz OK that footage of him licking his comb?
    I love how HE readers are completely incapable of discussing politics. As if Franken’s response is to be taken literal, and wasn’t just a complete rip on Coulter’s way of thinking.
    If this was a truly great scene, i’m guessing that’s why Coulter wanted it out. Why help Franken’s movie, when she could just as easily be a bitch and piss him off? I doubt she cares whether some dems think she lost a debate, and of course she doesn’t mind the pub.

  9. Whether ones loves or hates Coulter, this is a non-issue and to use a word like ‘censorious’ to describe her actions is to show that one does not know the definition of the word.
    Is there one compelling reason why she should let Al Franken and two hard-left liberal agit-prop directors use a clip of her where they will take her out of context and skew how she appears?
    I mean feel free to hate her but there is nothing ‘censorious’ about it.
    Do we all have to jump whenever a Michael Moore wannabe requests to use our image in yet another crash and burn ‘doc’.
    The left hates Coulter not because she is ‘small-minded’, its because she is good at what she does and can engage in a verbal smackdown that culturally only liberal males are supposed engage in.
    Small minded is the directors getting all pissy about not being able to use the clip.

  10. Michael Moore was sued by a disabled Iraq War veteran for manipulation of his image, which wasn’t clearly expressed to him at the time of shooting.
    That’s not an indictment of Moore’s politics (however much I disagree with them).
    It’s just a statement on the idea that these things happen on both sides. This is a left-wing site, so Moore’s transgressions won’t be reported, and Coulter’s will.

  11. “I love how HE readers are completely incapable of discussing politics. As if Franken’s response is to be taken literal, and wasn’t just a complete rip on Coulter’s way of thinking. ”
    Mark, this is the point Mgmax was making. Rather than “discussing politics” (the idea many Conservatives have that the New Deal has intensely outworn it’s usefulness and is now a major drain on resources), Franken went the easy, cheap “Hitler” route.
    He’s the one not discussing politics.

  12. I don’t understand, though, why Coulter would even worry about this.
    Who the hell has even heard about this Franken doc? The only people who are going to see it are Festival-goers and such, 99.99999% of whom worship Franken and detest Coulter anyway.
    If she ignores it and doesn’t aid its publicity, it would just disappear. Why people need to create publicity for the other side (including those who boost Coulter’s sales by vilifying her) is beyond me.

  13. NYCBusybody
    Again, two things. Franken was making fun of Coulter’s approach to the question and it’s silly to analyze his actual quote, and two, HE readers can’t handle the conversation. You, e.g., immediately called them both names and dismissed any debate about the topic.

  14. Right above your last post, Mark, I did debate the topic.
    I still think they’re both obnoxious twits, and I wish there was a way they could both lose.

  15. And, Mark, I sincerely doubt Jeffrey posted this quote to engender serious political debate. He hates Coulter and wanted to show something that made her look bad.
    All well and good, but not exactly reaching out the the other side for moderated debate.

  16. i agree that Jeff isn’t looking for serious political debate, which is why i objected to the responses getting somewhat politically nasty. (i think Jeff is just looking for the clip.)
    i also offerered the thought that Coulter is not worried at all about how she comes off in the clip. it’s not political at all. it comes down to either helping Franken’s movie, or hurting it, and why choose the former without compensation?

  17. I agree, Mark. I think she’s making the wrong move by blocking it, if in fact she is.
    No one’s going to see it anyway, except people who already hate her.

  18. I saw “And God Spoke” at the SXSW Film Festival in the spring.
    The offending scene was in there.
    Basically, the moderator asks Ms. Coulter what historical figure she would like to be and why. She says FDR to make the New Deal never happen and gets a big applause line.
    Then the moderator turns to Franken, who looks like he was just thrown the weakest non-breaking curve ball in history and says he would be Hitler so he could make the Holocaust never happen.
    He, of course, gets a big laugh and applause, too. The house audience was pretty evenly split it seemed.
    After the exchange, there is an interview with a couple of middle-aged women from the audience who say how much they adore Ann Coulter and think that Al Franken must have a crush on her or wish he could sleep with her.
    Of course, Franken’s wife, Franny, is there the whole movie, so the point seems ludicrous.
    The point the exchange seemed to be how flimsy some of the right’s arguments are when given even the smallest amount of rebuttal.
    By the way, the New Deal funded a number of early Orson Welles theater productions and without it, we wouldn’t have Citizen Kane.

  19. I also think that in a polarized, all-about-winning-points political culture, people are reluctant to admit ANY fault or silliness done by one of their own.
    And why should they? It’s not like the other side is going to accept this and say “alright, we both do stupid things, let’s talk about this”.
    They’re going to say, “Yep, and the actions of (Moore, Coulter, Sheehan, Limbaugh, Franken, whoever) prove that ALL liberals/conservatives are idiots, and we were right all along!”
    So the natural instinct of a conservative is to defend Coulter against Franken, no matter how badly she may come off. There’s no point in not doing so.

  20. Jeff Wells,
    Does it bother you at all that NYCBusybody uses the comments section for every one of your posts to promote his non-thoughts?

    I’ve been tracking down and reading your column for as long as I can remember (Reel.com?) and I’ve always enjoyed reading feedback from your readers but I’ve grown tired of wading through his crap.

    With the best of intentions…
    Dan Geiser

  21. “By the way, the New Deal funded a number of early Orson Welles theater productions and without it, we wouldn’t have Citizen Kane.”
    Oh come on.
    Welles had about eight careers going at once. Publicly-supported theater was only one of them. The thing that got him invited to Hollywood was his radio series, which was sponsored by Campbell’s. Admittedly the radio series came out of being a theater sensation, but are we to assume that a talent like Welles would have gone unknown to Broadway without a little government largesse? History would have been different in some way without the New Deal, but it hardly follows to say Orson Welles would have spent his life at an accountant’s desk if not for the WPA.

  22. I saw God Spoke at SXSW myself, and I remember the scene being where it started to take off for me. I’m sure someone has so much time on their hands that we’ll see it in the next few days.

  23. Have NCYBusybody and Nicol ever been seen in the same place together? And has either of them ever been spotted in Hicksville, NY?

  24. Of course, another way to look at it is that Coulter says something which makes a somewhat novel point and could lead to further interesting discussion, and Franken says the most obvious thing, which no one could argue with and which ends the discussion right there.

    Guess which one gets invited on TV more often because they know how to keep the debate moving.

    Me, I’d become Hitler, and stop myself.

  25. D’oh! Scratch that last half-formed thought which wound up repeating what Franken said. Guess I won’t be on TV either!

  26. Ah. I wouldn’t know. I’ve barely left Manhattan since I moved here, as I don’t have a car.
    So was the implication that Nicol and I are Billy Joel fans?

  27. “By the way, the New Deal funded a number of early Orson Welles theater productions and without it, we wouldn’t have Citizen Kane.”

    Oh come on.

    Welles had about eight careers going at once. Publicly-supported theater was only one of them. The thing that got him invited to Hollywood was his radio series, which was sponsored by Campbell’s. Admittedly the radio series came out of being a theater sensation, but are we to assume that a talent like Welles would have gone unknown to Broadway without a little government largesse? History would have been different in some way without the New Deal, but it hardly follows to say Orson Welles would have spent his life at an accountant’s desk if not for the WPA.

  28. I saw the complete version at the San Francisco Film Festival in the spring.
    It is one of the best scenes in the film. But now people won’t be able to decide for themselves.
    Though the more people may see the film now (smart move Ann) because of the controversy.
    And people really should learn about the WPA which
    did help create some great art and culture. And should be revived today.

  29. NYC: “Jon Stewart once said that anyone, in any political debate, who brings up the words “Nazi” or “Hitler” to win a point in their favor should automatically have to stop arguing.”
    Then I guess Rumsfeld can’t defend our war in Iraq. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/29/AR2006082900585.html?nav=rss_nation/special
    “Michael Moore was sued by a disabled Iraq War veteran for manipulation of his image, which wasn’t clearly expressed to him at the time of shooting.”
    If he didn’t want to do an interview, he didn’t have to; but he waived all rights to the footage when he gave his consent.
    Nicol: “Is there one compelling reason why she should let Al Franken and two hard-left liberal agit-prop directors use a clip of her where they will take her out of context and skew how she appears?”
    So Coulter’s simply misunderstood when she openly advocates poisoning a judge or blowing up the NY Times?
    “The left hates Coulter not because she is ‘small-minded’, its because she is good at what she does”
    So is David Duke, but I don’t see why either of them should be embraced.
    “and can engage in a verbal smackdown that culturally only liberal males are supposed engage in.”
    So liberal males hate WTC widows who vote Republican?

  30. To say that you’d be FDR and, in that capacity, prevent the New Deal is not an “argument.” It’s a quip. It’s founded on a reversal; normally, when asked to pick an historical figure, the average person selects someone he or she actually ADMIRES. Not so with Coulter. This is what passes as conservative “cleverness.”
    By picking Hitler, Franken one-ups Coulter in outlandishness in order to highlight her own shallowness. It works. Coulter loses the exchange. Ergo, she wants it deep-sixed.
    Franken can be tedious and self-righteous, but his radio show is basically a series of interviews (with journalists, historians, politicians, policy wonks, etc.); some are more interesting than others. For a true blowhard, somebody who luxuriates solely in the fetid vapors of his own personality, look right.

  31. D.Z., you might as well not address me, because I just scroll through your screeds.
    And Nate, I tend to agree. I don’t think Ann was being clever, and whatever problems I may have with the New Deal’s continued efficacy, to say it never should have happened at all is a lame little quip.
    I just don’t think Franken’s retort is clever, either. The only thing worse than not being clever is being Mr. Clever Pants, which is what Franken’s always been.

  32. NYC, I guess you don’t read The Hot Blog.
    In all honesty, I don’t really think that you’re Nicol, or the Hicksville Pod who plagued that site. Your grammar is too good.

  33. Anne Coulter’s Aug 30 column is entitled “They Shot the Wrong Linclon” referring to Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I). That makes about the sixth time she has advocated the killing or persons or organizations. Whatever else you can say about Al Franken, he’s never done that. Worse, Rush Limbaugh is currently being villified (somewhat justifiably, imho) for the mere suggestion that african-americans can’t swim. Suggesting a U.S. representative should be killed, along with Bill Keller, american journalists, Rep. John Murtha, President Bill Clinton (while he was president)and Justice Paul Stevens is acceptable?
    After Ann C was pushed by two commentators she walked off Fox’s Hannity and Colmes. Given her inane opinions and her national soapbox, a little exposing of her other faults might be in order. That’s what makes this story relevent.

  34. B8ovin, actually, the media outlets that reported Limbaugh as saying that have issued retractions and apologies. He was reporting another person as having said that, and said, “see, this is what’s going to happen when you have a racial Survivor…they’re encouraging people to have these thoughts by putting the show on, so that’s what’s going to get said”.
    He said it obviously tongue-in-cheek, and CNN (who reported it) eventually understood when they actually listened to it. So, you’re spreading a lie that you didn’t independently check out for yourself. But that’s par for the course, no?

  35. The film does not work without the debate footage. I don’t think it’s the FDR-Hitler joke that Ann hates – it’s when she goes on with the GOP Talking points about Sen. Paul Wellstone’s funeral and how she claims that the Republicans were booed by everyone in the arena when they took the podium. Franken gets the footage and proves that Ann has been spreading lies. That the Republicans never stood on the platform and that you can barely hear the few boos that happened when these guys were shown on the jumbotron. This was not A-Rod taking the plate at Fenway Park. Ann can’t live with being shown that she’s wrong.
    Also she probably can’t stand seeing herself on the big screen cause you can’t miss that huge adam’s apple bobbing on her neck. The shemales of Wigstock did a better job of passing than Annie.

  36. Bring on those Right-Wing docs. Ideally the ones that don’t boil down to showing them as stereotypes (old white men, xenophobic, amoral).

  37. why is Franken an “obnoxious twit”? I don’t understand.
    Anyone who uses the word twit doesn’t have any friends.
    The New Deal saved this country.

  38. Actually, NYC, I have checked it out, including the subsequent rantings of Limbaugh. There is no indication that anyone has apologized to Limbaugh, and by leading a singular story about the incident, CNN saying it was tongue in cheek does not in any way mitigate Limbaugh’s meaning. Earlier the same day CNN had a segment dedicated to the idea that the remarks were, if not racist, insensitive. As per his pathetic wont, Limbaugh whined about this show and then gloated that his whining led to them changing the “lead” to the story. I doubt that mollifies those of us who find his remarks offensive, and certainly doesn’t gualify as an “apology” for how those remarks were percieved.
    What IS par for the course is that you have tried to bully, by supposition, assumptions and half-hearted knowledge that someone with a different opinion has it wrong. Sorry. I know what I’m talking about.

  39. Also, NYC, I just realized what you meant when you refer to Limbaugh as “just reporting” what someone else said. He was referring to a study that showed that more black youths died by drowing than white youths. This study in no way implied that “blacks can’t swim” which is what Limbaugh said, unprovoked.
    As for him being an arbitor of what MIGHT be said, he happily assumed that role and as such is entitled to the fallout. Thus, he deserves criticism.

  40. why is Franken an “obnoxious twit”? I don’t understand.

    Anyone who uses the word twit doesn’t have any friends.

    The New Deal saved this country.

  41. “If [the Iraq vet suing Michael Moore] didn’t want to do an interview, he didn’t have to; but he waived all rights to the footage when he gave his consent.”
    Moore never interviewed the guy. Moore simply lifted the footage from NBC and twisted it for his own use.

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