On Tucker, Bob Franken resurrected false stories about childhoods of Bush, Gore

On the November 26 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, former CNN correspondent Bob Franken described President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore as being “as different as night and day” because “Bush was raised in the oil patch in Texas” while Gore “was raised in a hotel in Washington and went to St. Albans, a very, very chichi private school.” In contrasting the childhood experiences of Bush and Gore, Franken misled MSNBC viewers about both men, resurrecting false storylines that were common in media coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign.

Franken's comments reflect a claim often made by Bush during his 2000 presidential campaign -- that “the biggest difference between me and my father is that he went to Greenwich Country Day and I went to San Jacinto Junior High.” In fact, Bush went to a private high school every bit as “chichi” as St. Albans: Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he was head football cheerleader during his senior year.

Further, Franken's comments reflect a distortion of Gore's childhood that was common in news reports during the 2000 campaign: that he was raised in a “vast” “penthouse suite” in the “elegant” and “swank” Fairfax Hotel, a “luxury Washington hotel.” In fact, the Gores lived in a modest two-bedroom suite in which Gore shared a bedroom with his sister. The supposedly “swank” hotel featured linoleum floors and was, according to an October 26, 1998, Washington Post article, popular with foreign-service families because "[t]he hotel apartments were the only ones with kitchens that were within the State Department's stingy temporary-housing allowance."

From the November 26 edition of MSNBC's Tucker:

TUCKER CARLSON (host): My point was only they come from similar backgrounds and from precisely the same culture. They're both fundamentally guilty, baby boomer WASPs who -- I'm serious -- who come from traditions of political leadership and who govern by their own -- rather than by principle -- from their own feelings.

ROGER SIMON (Politico chief political columnist): Well, Gore was so immersed in the issues he was called “wonky.” Have you ever heard George Bush called “wonky” ?

CARLSON: No, you never have. But both of them have this kind of -- this desire to do good -- and I don't mean that as a compliment -- to impose, you know their kind of utopian vision on the United States.

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, George W. Bush was raised in the oil patch in Texas.


FRANKEN: Al Gore was raised in a hotel in Washington and went to St. Albans, a very, very chichi private school.


FRANKEN: So they're as different as night and day.

CARLSON: Well, and Bush went to Andover, and they both wound up at Harvard, and -- do you know what I mean?