Franken interviews profs

In a live nationwide broadcast from Woolsey Hall yesterday, radio talk show host Al Franken said President George W. Bush ’68 and his advisers promised American troops they would be greeted in Iraq with candy and flowers.

“But they left out the crucial modifier ‘exploding,’” he said.

During the three-hour taping of “The Al Franken Show,” Franken discussed current political controversies and criticized the Bush administration in front of an audience of students, faculty and New Haven residents.

Monday’s show featured interviews with Yale Law School professors Anne Alstott and Michael Graetz, Law School Dean Harold Koh and Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Gustave Speth. The series of on-air segments included discussions on topics ranging from national wealth disparities to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito LAW ’75.

Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who represents New Haven, also made an unscheduled appearance in which she discussed the recent $54 billion budget cut proposal in Congress.

Franken made several sarcastic quips while discussing political issues with his guests.

Alstott spoke about the detrimental effect family wealth disparities have on subsequent generations because of the lack of opportunity some children suffer from a young age.

“The top 25 percent are going to graduate from college,” she said. “The bottom 75 percent are really going to struggle.”

Though Franken first responded jokingly — he said, “Our kids are fine … so what are we talking about?” — he then criticized politicians who are not sympathetic to families in need of welfare support.

“The same people who say, ‘We value families, we want kids brought up by their parents,’ at the same time they’re saying, ‘We want these women with kids, single mothers, to have to work 30 to 40 hours a week [on] minimum wage,” Franken said.

When Speth discussed the University’s new pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years — a plan inspired in part by findings that Yale produces more emissions than 30 countries around the globe — Franken joked, “And one of those countries is China.”

Some students said they enjoyed Franken’s humorous and irreverent tone towards conservative ideology.

“I agreed with what he was saying, but I really enjoy the humorous spin he takes more,” Matt Dell ’08 said.

But other attendees who described themselves as less liberal in their political views said they did not agree entirely with Franken’s comments or his attitude.

“He definitely made a lot of normative statements about the Bush administration,” said Sofia Medina ’08, a self-proclaimed moderate. “Even though he does present a somewhat slanted view, I feel it’s a view that’s sorely needed and one that needs to be expressed in mainstream media.”

Others said they thought Franken’s left-leaning opinions were acceptable given the conservative tone of most other talk radio shows.

Former New Haven police detective Tom Morrissey said the development of liberal talk radio shows such as Franken’s has filled a void of liberal opinion on AM radio.

“It’s amazing how progressive radio has progressed so rapidly in such a short period of time,” Morrissey said. “It’s been a long time coming … So many of us have been looking for the other side of the debate.”

Franken’s visit to campus was sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism, which brings speakers to campus who have made important contributions to the media. The next Poynter Fellowship event will be a discussion with Robert Kaplan, correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, this afternoon in Luce Hall.

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