Prior to his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to sponsor his new book, co-host Mika Brzezinski praised Senator Al Franken as following in the steps of previous US political titans Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. The interview that then followed was one of softballs and grounders as the panel incessantly gushed and awed over the Senator’s presence. It was a sharp contrast to the reception later given to Senator Mike Lee of Utah.
Over the course of Franken’s time on the show the panel fielded him questions ranging from what gave him the most satisfaction as a senator to the current state of David Letterman’s beard. The conversation about the latter topic went as follows:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You were at the 92nd Street Royal last night?
AL FRANKEN: I was and David Letterman for my book "Al Franken Giant of the Senate."
SCARBOROUGH: Does he still have that beard, that old man--
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: --Santa Claus beard!
FRANKEN: That beard is a carbon sink. He’s very big on climate. We were talking about, actually he said--
SCARBOROUGH: It’s like a filter for smog in the greater New York area.
BRZEZINSKI: Ew! No!
FRANKEN: No, it stores a lot of carbon.
BRZEZINSKI: Ugh! Gah!
FRANKEN: He said that he's beginning to lose faith in the Trump administration.
BRZEZINSKI: Really? Just a tiny bit?
SCARBOROUGH: Is he really? What was the turning point for Dave?
FRANKEN: Uh, it might be climate. He and I both believe climate change is an existential threat. I told him last night, look, I have three grandchildren and I don't want them in 50 years saying grandpa, you knew climate change was happening. You were a United States senator. Why didn't you do anything? And also, why are you still alive, because I'll be 116 then.
No questions were asked concerning Senator Franken’s past history of colorful remarks or the entire chapter in his book, “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate,”dedicated to his undying hatred of Ted Cruz. Franken recently boasted about this in an interview with USA Today in which he described the Texas Senator as “singularly dishonest” and “exceptionally smarmy.” He also bragged in the same interview about the friendship he developed in the Senate with now Attorney General Jeff Sessions and how eager he was to later throw Sessions under the bus when his nomination came up. But, no, let’s focus on the status of David Letterman’s facial hair because that’s the real issue here!
All of this represented a marked difference to the treatment of Senator Lee when he arrived to showcase his book, “Written Out of History.” The dogpile began almost immediately as Lee was bombarded with questions ranging from climate change and Trump’s recent trip to whether or not the Republican party was still intact and in the grips of an autocrat.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you concerned with the President seeming more comfortable around autocratic leaders in the Philippines and Turkey than say democratic leaders in Europe?
MIKE LEE: I don't know that that's a fair characterization of what he feels. I don't think that's a fair characterization of what he's done. I certainly don't think that signals a view that favors autocratic rule. The President has a million reasons why he might take one action or another. I don't think there's a whole lot we should read into it.
SCARBOROUGH: So, then let’s talk about you. Were you concerned that the leader of Turkey came to United States of America and had his thugs go out and beat up American citizens while he's there?
SCARBOROUGH: Should the President have spoken out against that in strong terms?
LEE: I don't speak for the president. I spoke out against it --
SCARBOROUGH: Should a president -- certainly I'm sure there were things that Barack Obama did that you and I were both critical of Barack Obama about.
LEE: Sure. Sure. Sure. Um, look, I spoke out about it. I would encourage anyone else including, but not limited to, the President to speak out about it. Any time a foreign head of state comes to the United States and has his or her security detail beat up people on U.S. soil, outside the curtilage of the embassy, that's a problem.
The result of all this was that Lee spent almost half of his interview under attack whereas Franken was gifted with a full, unblemished ten minutes of avid adoration.