- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Dutton (August 29, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141886889
- ISBN-13: 978-0141886886
- ASIN: 0525947647
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,190 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them Hardcover – Import, August 21, 2003
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Having previously dissected the factual inaccuracies of a single bellicose talk show host in Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken takes his fight to a larger foe: President George W. Bush, the Bush Administration, Ann Coulter, Bill OReilly, and scores of other conservatives whom, he says, are playing loose with the facts. It's a lot of ground to cover, as evidenced by the 43 chapters in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, but the results are often entertaining and insightful. Franken occupies a unique place in the modern political dialogue as perhaps the media's only comedy writer and performer who is also a Harvard fellow as well as a liberal political commentator. This unique and vaguely lonely position lends a charming quixotic quality to adventures such as a tense encounter with the Fox News staff at the National Press Club, a challenge to fisticuffs with National Review Editor Rich Lowry, and an oddly sweet admissions visit to ultra-conservative Bob Jones University (with a young research assistant posing as his son when Franken's real-life son refuses to participate in the charade). Less useful are comic book dramatizations of "Supply Side Jesus" and a fictitious Vietnam War story featuring the numerous righties who, Franken intimates, improperly avoided service. And Franken's criticisms of conservative talk show hosts Sean Hannity, OReilly, and columnist Coulter, while admirable in their attention to detail, fail to shed much new light on people who have built careers on broad arguments and relentless self-aggrandizement. But Franken is at his best, and most compellingly readable, when he backs off the wackiness and the personal grudges and writes about more personal matters such as the political circus surrounding the memorial service of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. But even on these more serious topics, Franken's wit is still present and, in fact, grows sharper. In a time when much political discourse is composed of rage and shouting, it's refreshing that Al Franken is able to shout in a witty manner. --John Moe
It's one thing to read about right-wing lies from the likes of journalist Eric Alterman and Joe Conason but quite another to hear the inconsistencies and twisted rhetoric filtered through the satiric brain of Al Franken. True, much of the material covered in all these books is the same--or, as Franken puts it in his acknowledgments, "Eric Alterman, thanks for writing a book on bias I could just put jokes to." But it's Franken's take on it that is so delicious. Unlike his more serious fellow writers, he does not feel compelled toward civility or decorum. Hence his chapter title: "Ann Coulter: Nutcase," or the next chapter: "You Know Who I Don't Like? Ann Coulter." And although personal attacks abound--"Bill O'Reilly: Lying, Splotchy Bully"--there's plenty of real talk about really serious stuff. Only Franken makes it funny. For instance, he deftly proves, with help from the Project for Excellence in Journalism, how Al Gore was steamrollered by the "liberal" press in the 2000 election; reveals the lies made by the Right about the Paul Wellstone memorial; and explains about as clearly as anyone how the Bush tax cuts work and whom they benefit. Even the chapters that don't quite work--Franken trying to get a fake son into Bob Jones University--evoke a few smiles. Expect big word of mouth on this one, which was rushed into print early to capitalize on the quickly rejected suit filed by Fox News against the book's title and cover design. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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For fans/admirers/supporters of the conservative persons Franken writes about, it may be difficult to read this book; and on the other hand, critics of the subjects of the book will like/enjoy what he writes. But regardless of political persuasion, I think this is an important book for all Americans to read to get some insight into the things that politicians and political pundits say or write (regardless of whether the persons are conservative, liberal, in-between, or whatever), to appreciate the importance of citizens carefully thinking about what is said/written; asking for (no, make that demanding!!) the honest facts/data to back up what is said, written, or broadcast; and maintaining a skeptical perspective of the statements made by others, even by the politicians we like and are inclined to support.
It is important to note that although the book talks about events that occurred or statements that were made more than a decade ago, what is written in the book and the implications are just as important (or even more so) today. Finally, the bottom line is that it just is an enjoyable, informative, and funny -- (sometimes laugh-out-loud funny) -- book to read.
While addressing the way the 'right' uses partial facts, selected quotes, and false information, this book is a reminder to all of us to check the facts as best we can before making decisions about who is telling the truth, regardless of the source.
Although written in 2003, the lies and the liars that tell them are, for the most part, still around and have actually increased in number. If there was ever a book that prompted deeper reading into what is truth, it is this one.
This one gets four stars.
Great funny book, can't wait to get way more up to date reading from Franken.
That said, I really liked the way Al used specific examples and exhaustive research to refute many of the claims made by right-wing pundits and to demonstrate their lack of veracity. O'Reilly's claims of journalistic credibility, Coulter's insane rantings, Hannity's bombast. Especially telling were his answers to the outlandish accusations against Bill Clinton and Al Gore by various conservatives. Basically, their claims lack any shred of proof or misstate events while Al provides direct quotes and names of sources in refutation. Good stuff.
My only criticism would be his occasional lapses into parody in the midst of a solid argument. The Bush administration, in its blind hatred of all things Clinton, failed to follow up on intelligence pointing to attacks by Al Qaeda. But to refer to it by an operational name without identifying the name as parody (unless there really was such an operation) could cause those from the dark side to question his credibility.
All in all, buy or borrow this book, but definitely read it.