Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Will the Drudging of Franken’s snit hurt his Senate campaign?

In Thursday’s Strib, the snarky gossip C.J. relayed a tale reinforcing exactly the image that Senate candidate Al Franken is trying to shed, that of a rude, angry, self-important loudmouth whose idea of relating to Republicans — even a mere Carl conservative (the kids at Carleton College refer to themselves as “Carls”) — is to mock, berate and humiliate.

Predictably, the MNGOP, Powerline and some other righty blogs did what they could to amplify the kerfuffle. Media-wise DFLers whom I consulted said Franken — who apparently is not denying the incident, while not confirming the details — had caught a major break if, as appears to be the case, the incident was not preserved on video.

But on Friday, the next worse thing happened. The mighty Drudge Report linked to C.J.’s account.

You may not know how big a deal it is to get linked by Drudge. I had the experience once in my own Strib, Big Question blog days, when a piece about Michele Bachmann’s bizarre claim to know about a deal between Iran and Al Qaida to divide Iraq and create a terrorism zone from which to attack Israel and the United States got a link from Drudge.

Back then, and relying on my faulty memory, the best traffic The Big Question had ever had in a day was about 20,000 page views. After being Drudged, that post was viewed more than 700,000 times over two days and the next thing you knew the delusion of poor Rep. Bachmann’s (which she still hasn’t ever properly explained, by the way) was being discussed on talk radio programs up to and including the mighty Rush Limbaugh.

Journalists courting Drudge
I won’t feign respect for Drudge nor Limbaugh nor C.J., none of whom share my enthusiasm for substance or civility. But linkage by Drudge is, I’m pretty sure, the biggest thing that can happen to you online.

Important, serious national journalists try hard to get Drudge to link to them. They not only alert Drudge to anything they write that they think might get a link, but I fear they allow their inner Drudge to influence them when they are deciding what to cover. Both the Washington Post and the L.A. Times websites get more traffic from Drudge linkages than they do from any other outside source.

My esteemed former colleague Terry Sauer of told me Friday afternoon that the C.J. column, which more typically attracts about 10,000 hits a day, was north of 200,000 after the Drudge link.

Franken spokester Jess McIntosh said late Friday that the campaign had received exactly four inquiries about the Carleton incident from non-journalist Minnesotans, and no one, before me, had asked about the impact of being Drudged.

I don’t know how much damage the Drudging of Franken’s snitfit will inflict upon the candidate’s ongoing efforts to Minnesota nice-ify his image. But my spidey sense is tingling.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Justin Heideman on 01/28/2008 - 10:18 am.

    C.J.’s column: Trashy gossip
    Drudge: Trashy right wing gossip

    Both are full of un-verified crap and aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on or the bandwidth they use.

    But beyond that, is there some problem with a politician not being a phony? Clearly Al disagreed with the guy rather strongly. Why should he pretend he didn’t?

  2. Submitted by Matty Lang on 01/28/2008 - 11:24 am.

    This is a good example of the liabilities that an Al Franken nomination would bring to the DFL’s opportunity to limit Norm Coleman to one term in the US Senate. Sure, Al is popular and has name recognition, but he continues to fail to show the skills, the knowledge on important issues (such as energy policy where he supports unnecessary and wildly expensive nuclear power) and the tact required to be a leader and an effective legislator in the Senate.

    Thankfully Minnesotans have a far stronger choice in Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer; check him out:

  3. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/28/2008 - 03:26 pm.

    If you actually read the CJ column, you would know that the incident was verified by a member of the Carlton Democrats. And if you read this article, you will see that Franken is not denying the incident. The fact that it wasn’t videotaped doesn’t mean it wasn’t verified.

    I don’t know that being a jerk is the same thing as not being a phony.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/28/2008 - 04:59 pm.

    I guess the difference is that a Democrat is willing to listen to a contrary opinion (even if he disagrees with it unpleasantly) whereas Republicans don’t allow dissenters to even attend their rallies.

    As to nuclear power, it’s far safer than coal (check the deaths per kilowatt from each over the last 50 years) and cheaper than wind or solar power are likely to be in the near future.
    France has demonstrated its viability as an alternative to fossil fuel.
    Ethanol, of course, only benefits the ecology of Cargill.

    And I have checked Nelson-Pallmeyer’s Web site — he hasn’t done anything that indicates he could be elected to county clerk, much less the Senate.
    He ought to try for the State Legislature first.
    I’m not sure why someone who couldn’t win a an endorsement for a Congressional race in 2006 would now be a viable Senate candidate.

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/28/2008 - 05:57 pm.

    Eric writes: “I won’t feign respect for Drudge nor Limbaugh nor C.J., none of whom share my enthusiasm for substance or civility.” I actually have more respect for all of them than a “journalist” such as yourself Eric. At least they are honest on who they are.

    Maybe you can explain why you are infatuated with Michele Bachann? Or Rachel Paulose? Could it be your interest in civility? Maybe substance?

    Or is it your bias to sliming strong conservative Christian women?

  6. Submitted by Joe Musich on 01/28/2008 - 08:02 pm.

    Boy oh boy ! Eric Black journalist of high esteem being criticized for not being direct and honest when speaking of strong Christen women ? And yet when honest and direct behavior is practiced by Al Franken he should be trashed ?Doesn’t the sword cut two ways ? Oh ! the wounds of the martyred ? A dust up cannot a blizzard be !

  7. Submitted by Matty Lang on 01/28/2008 - 08:51 pm.

    While coal (with its CO2 expensively sequestered or not) would be the second to last energy solution (right behind nuclear) I would ever propose, I wonder if Mr. Brandon’s death per kilowatt hour stats on nuclear energy include data on uranium miners (mainly Navajo residents of Arizona) who have died or are currently dying from cancer? I bet John McCain (and Gov. Pawlenty) might know a bit about this.

    As for the cost of nuclear energy do folks know that not even the nuclear industry can tell us how much a new nuclear facility would cost today–it’s that expensive. Do people realize that our federal government has assumed all responsibility for the numerous tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste currently spread across much of our country including at “temporary” storage storage sites in Monticello and Red Wing Minnesota, absolving the nuclear industry of all costs and liability associated with its waste?

    Finally, do folks realize that (via the Price-Anderson Act) our federal government will try to pay for the attempt to clean up after any nuclear accident that might happen within our borders. There isn’t a private insurance company in the world that will insure a nuclear power plant because it will go bankrupt if there is ever a problem. This does not seem like cheap power in my analysis.

    Finally, with all of these costs left out of the quoted cost of nuclear energy via public subsidy of the industry, wind power is still a cheaper (not to mention cleaner) source of our electricity needs. Here’s a decent explanation of this for further reference:

    Jack Nellson-Pallmeyer is experienced enough to properly evaluate two potential energy sources such as wind and nuclear power and their impacts on our heath, our environment and our economy (we produce wind in Minnesota and uranium in Arizona). The last time Minnesota sent an “inexperienced” college professor to DC he did us quite proud. I’ve met Jack and I’m confident he will do the same.

  8. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/28/2008 - 09:36 pm.

    There’s a difference between acknowledging that a conversation took place and agreeing with its content.
    That’s what has not been verified.

    And it wouldn’t be the first time that a college Republican has tried to set up an incident to embarrass a Democratic politician.
    Or don’t Republicans do that sort of thing.
    Time for some skepticism about the whole incident.

  9. Submitted by Dan Hintz on 01/29/2008 - 12:32 pm.

    Again, let me refer you to the C.J. column, which states:

    “Fritz’s version of the encounter was backed up by Pablo Kenney, prez of the Carleton Dems.” Are the Carlton Dems part of the conspiracy to set up Al Franken?

    Time for some skepticism about whether Franken is a viable Senate candidate. The Republicans don’t call him “angry Al” for nothing.

  10. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 01/30/2008 - 06:56 pm.

    joe m – What did Eric write about again today!? Rachel? Ah, my point proven again!

Leave a Reply