Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair & Balanced Look at the Right - Al Franken

So this book is over two years old now, but it was sitting out where we're currently house-sitting, so I decided to pick it up and see what it's about. In his acknowledgements, Franken makes a comment that his book is basically like Eric Alterman's book What Liberal Media?, but with jokes. Alterman's book was a direct response to Bernard Goldberg's Bias. (Both books are on my list to read, hopefully concurrently.)

At any rate, Franken takes it upon himself to address the issue of media bias, as well as picking up a lot of arguments made by some of the loudest right-wing pundits (Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, for instance). His basic premise, obvious from the title, is that there are a lot of lies told by the Right, and he wants to document them and refute them in this book.

It's a well-researched book, with supporting endnotes but not so many that you can't be bothered to actually check into them. He tries as much as possible to give exact quotes, context for the quotes, and whether a particular statement was used multiple times (or even after the statement had been refuted) before calling it a lie. And he's got a long list. He starts off with Coulter, but it's basically a warm-up, because after pointing out several specific problems in Slander he just has a section on How to Lie with Footnotes, showing the various ways Coulter misuses references so that you don't spot the lies.

The trickiest thing about a book like this is that it's supposed to be funny, and Franken does a pretty good job of balancing serious arguments with humor. The only fault I find is that he tends to swear a lot, so it's not necessarily a book I would recommend to a conservative I'm trying to present an argument to.

I consider myself a moderate, so while I don't agree with all of Franken's opinions, he does make a compelling argument that a lot of conservatives have been lying, and about pretty significant things. I'd be interested to see what a conservative makes of his book, though: is there a writer who is Franken's conservative equivalent? Somebody who writes critically about the Left without simply being mean and nasty about it? If so, point them out to me and I'll read their book.

Fed to jonathan's brain | January 26, 2006 | Comments (0)


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