Senator Al Franken Accused Of Groping A Woman In 2006

A Los Angeles reporter says that Minnesota Senator Al Franken groped her and engaged in other inappropriate conduct during a 2006 USO tour.

al-franken-2008

Minnesota Senator Al Franken is being accused of sexually inappropriate behavior during a 2006 USO tour by a performer who was part of that tour and performed in several skits with Franken:

WASHINGTON — A growing national outcry over sexual harassment reached the Senate on Thursday, when a radio newscaster accused Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, of kissing and groping her without consent during a 2006 U.S.O. tour of the Middle East before he took public office.

Mr. Franken almost immediately released an apology to the newscaster, Leeann Tweeden, who said that Mr. Franken forcibly kissed her during a rehearsal and groped her for a photo as she slept.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Mr. Franken, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, said in a statement. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, wasted no time before forwarding the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee.

“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,” he said in a statement. “I hope the Democratic leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Ms. Tweeden published a first-person account of the incident on KABC Radio in Los Angeles on Thursday. She wrote that it occurred in December 2006, not long before Christmas, when she was a performer for the tour alongside Mr. Franken, then a well-known comedian.

She also presented evidence, including a photograph of Mr. Franken, his head turned toward the camera, with his hands placed over Ms. Tweeden’s breasts as she slept.

According to Ms. Tweeden’s account, Mr. Franken wrote a bawdy script that included a kiss for the two to perform onstage. When it came time to rehearse the skit, she wrote, Mr. Franken insisted on kissing despite her protestations.

“I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time,” Ms. Tweeden wrote. “I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.”

“I felt disgusted and violated,” she added.

Ms. Tweeden said that no one else witnessed the kiss, and she did not tell the tour’s organizers. She said Mr. Franken retaliated against her with insults and, she learned after the trip ended, the compromising photograph.

Ms. Tweeden said the photograph was taken while she was asleep on a flight back to the United States from Afghanistan and that she saw it only later, after the trip ended.

“I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated,” she wrote. “How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”

Ms. Tweeden wrote that she had been compelled to share the story after an on-air conversation with Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, who has been a leading voice sounding alarms about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill in recent weeks.

Speaking on air on KABC Thursday morning, Ms. Tweeden, a former model, said that women were too often blamed for provoking male aggression based on their looks or clothing.

“You’re just a girl in a man’s world anyway to begin with,” she said. “You are always going to be overpowered by a man who is on SNL and going into a political world. The guy always gets unscathed in those situations.”

You can read Tweeden’s account of what happened here, and here is the audio of what Tweeden had to say on the air this morning:

And here’s a copy of the picture that Tweeden references in her statement:

Al Franken Groping

Tweeden’s post comes just days after the current wave of reports about sexual harassment, unwanted advances, and unwanted physical/sexual actions on Capitol Hill has become an issue and amid an ongoing series of reports about similar behavior involving Hollywood figures ranging from producer Harvey Weinstein to actors such as Kevin Spacey and George Takei. It also comes amid similar reports by women who have alleged that they were the subject of unwanted advances and assault by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Two days ago, California Congresswoman Jackie Spier, who recently shared her own story of having been sexually harassed in the past, stated that she is aware of at least two currently serving men on Capitol Hill, one from each party, who have been accused of sexually inappropriate contact toward female staffers or other women with whom they have interacted. In response, Spier and New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand have introduced legislation that would address the issue of sexual harassment in Congress more stringently and several of their male colleagues have joined them in the effort. Given this context, and the #MeToo campaign that has been popular on Twitter in the time since the Weinstein story broke as a way for women to share their own stories have having been sexually harassed or groped in either a professional or some other context, the fact that stories such as Tweeden’s are finally starting to become public.

In response to Tweeden’s charges, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement saying that sexual harassment must never be tolerated and called on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the charges against Franken. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has also released a statement calling for an ethics investigation as did Minnesota’s senior Senator Amy Klobuchar. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made a similar statement. Initially, Franken released a statement saying he didn’t recall the incident that Tweeden related, but that he nonetheless apologized for any inappropriate behavior. Franken himself, meanwhile, has released a revised statement in which he repeats the apology noted above and echoes the call for an ethics investigation:

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is calling for an ethics investigation into his own behavior after a woman accused him of groping her.

Franken in an expanded statement on Thursday apologized for the incident, in which he groped television host and sports broadcaster Leeann Tweeden while she was asleep on a military plane during a 2006 USO tour.

“I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences,” he said. “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”

In a piece on KABC, Tweeden published a photo of Franken groping her breasts while they were both on a USO tour. She also wrote that Franken forcibly kissed her while they were rehearsing a sketch for a performance.

Franken initially issued a brief, three-sentence statement, in which he said he didn’t remember the rehearsal for the skit “in the same way.”

In that statement, he wrote that he sent “my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” and said he should not have taken the photo, which he described as “clearly intended to be funny.”

The second statement came after Franken faced criticism from across the political spectrum that his first statement did not represent a real apology.

“The first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry,” he wrote in the new statement.

“I respect women.  I don’t respect men who don’t,” Franken continued. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”

Franken doubled down on his claim that he does not remember the rehearsal for the skit “in the same way” as Tweeden.

But he said Tweeden “deserved to be heard.”

“The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories,” Franken said. “They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”

What impact this story has going forward depends on what happens next. There have not been any other claims about inappropriate behavior on Franken’s part prior to this, but if there are any such claims it’s likely that they will come out now in the wake of Tweeden’s disclosure. If that happens and this turns out to be some kind of long-standing pattern on his part during the time before his political career began, then it could end up being a huge political headache for Minnesota’s junior Senator, who is next up for re-election in 2020. Even if Tweeden is the only example of such behavior on Franken’s part that comes to light, it could still end up becoming a political problem for him given his own long-standing outspokenness in support of women who have come forward to report past instances of sexual harassment and abuse. As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake put it in a column early this afternoon, Franken’s past comments on the issue leave him vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy that would seem to be entirely valid under the circumstances.

More broadly these charges, and any others against Franken should they materialize, could have a real impact on Franken’s political future beyond the Senate. For several months now, there has been at least some speculation that Senator Franken could be a potential challenger for President in the Democratic Party in 2020. Franken himself has denied that he’s interested in running for President, but that has not stopped the speculation itself. These allegations are likely to at least cool that speculation down significantly for the time being, and if there are further charges against Franken in the future then it would seem clear that would be the end of any Presidential ambitions on Franken’s part.

FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Democratic leadership, as well as Franken himself, is/are calling for an ethics investigation.
    Let’s now see Republicans, and Trump himself, rise to the same standard.
    Muhahahahaha….I crack myself up….

  2. Kari Q says:

    If this was a single incident, I’m willing to forgive. If this is a pattern, something he has a history of doing, he should resign. Based on Tweeden’s story, it sounds like it was an offensive attempt to be funny, but time will tell.

  3. Franklin says:

    @Kari Q: I’ve often said I generally believe in second chances, but have a bit more trouble with the third chance. We shall see in this case what, if anything, comes out of the woodwork.

  4. Mikey says:

    @Kari Q:

    If this is a pattern, something he has a history of doing, he should resign.

    Indeed. We must hold those on our side of the political aisle to the same standard we would require of those on the other side.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    There also seems to be enough witnesses around that the truth or falsity of the accusation can be determined.

    Also, if this is typical, more accusations will come out. As the old saw goes, it’s not a “he said-she said.” It’s far too often a “he said–she said she said she said she said….” The more accusations (particularly from different people who don’t know each other and who mentioned the activity to other people at the time) the less believable the denials.

    I commented over at TAC that under Islamic law it took the testimony of four women to be worth that of one man and that it would be interesting to see what the ratio was here in the US for Roy Moore-supporting Christians.

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Kari Q:

    If this is a pattern

    I agree 110%.

    I have to say that in my 59 years on this earth I am fairly certain that I have tried to kiss someone who didn’t want to be…and I have probably grabbed a butt that didn’t want to be grabbed as well.
    On the flip side; I have certainly had my butt grabbed, I have had my hand placed on breasts (very recently), I have certainly had women try to kiss me when I didn’t want to be, and I have been aggressively, and uncomfortably, propositioned.
    Am I really so far outside the norm??? Seriously???
    My point…where do you draw the line between clumsy, oafish behavior and harassment? Are they in fact the same? I don’t know. I know none of us are saints – that doesn’t make us all sinners.
    By all means, let the ethics investigation against Franken go on. But let he (or she) who is without sin, etc…

  7. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Also…how many of you have ever worn a flak jacket?
    The idea that what Franken is doing in that photo constitutes groping is ridiculous. Piss-poor and tasteless attempt at humor? No doubt. Demeaning to the woman? Definitely. Groping? You wouldn’t be able to feel up Dolly Parton thru a flak jacket.

  8. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: It’s a photo that says “we could have molested you, ha ha ha” — flak jacket or no flak jacket it’s unacceptable.

    That said, it was also probably a piss-poor attempt at humor, which fell especially flat because Tweeden had been resenting him at every performance since the kiss (which may have an attempt at finding the line between funny and offensive for the skit).

    But still, unacceptable. Even if he hadn’t been making her uncomfortable before that, he probably doesn’t know whether she has been assaulted in the past by someone else. It’s a really sh.tty thing to do.

    I half expect dozens of identical photographs to come up — that it was just a running joke that Franken did with every costar in the USO tours — and that Tweeden was the only one who took it as something other than a failed attempt at humor. This would almost be better than that he was deliberately targeting Tweeden for abuse because of the kiss (which is her claim).

    Anyway, all of it is less morally offensive that cutting taxes on the wealthy and eliminating health insurance for 13 million people.

  9. Facebones says:

    It’s gross. Both my wife and I have known actors and improv guys who get way too handsy during scenes so I can completely believe this. I can also completely believe that he thought he wasn’t doing anything wrong at the time and still made her feel uncomfortable.

    I wonder if more women will come forward. This is a guy who came up through the bad boy comedy days of SNL, so I can guess there were a few drug fueled gropings.

  10. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:
    It was most certainly demeaning and yes, unacceptable. Does it warrant the resignation of a Senator? I’m not saying it doesn’t…but if it does…I suspect many more heads should roll.

  11. Slugger says:

    As I said in the other thread, I’d rather see Franken take a fall for the nation than have our country be a place where “my guys” can get away with stuff because they are holding the reins. The people holding the reins at this time are willing to do too much in their narrow self-interest. Our President has his son-in-law talking to the guy trying to grab power in Saudi Arabia without the tiniest bit of evidence that Jared has any diplomatic smarts. Our Congress seems bent on passing tax changes for the benefit of a small fraction (by head count, not bank account) of the nation. Bob Packwood resigned.

  12. Jen says:

    It’s gross and unacceptable. I’m glad Franken is calling for the ethics investigation, and if this is any more than just a one-off, he needs to resign.

    Typically stuff like this happens behind closed doors. The fact that there were others around means that there could be additional witnesses.

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I’ve wondered a LOT lately about what the lines are between harassment and oafish behavior. I don’t have any clear answers, and I don’t know that anyone else does either.

  13. KM says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Also…how many of you have ever worn a flak jacket?

    I wear a heavily padded plastron under my lamé / jacket for my tournaments since I tend to bruise easy. It’s never stopped a perv before. The ensuing punch, though…. well, I’ve always said men need to wear chest protectors too and am happy to demonstrate the rationale to anyone stupid enough to try.

    Perv’s gonna perv. Just because I can’t feel you copping a feel through my clothing doesn’t excuse anything.

  14. Mikey says:

    @Jen:

    I’ve wondered a LOT lately about what the lines are between harassment and oafish behavior. I don’t have any clear answers, and I don’t know that anyone else does either.

    Some things are obvious (Louis C. K. and his dick-waving behavior, Roy Moore and his harassment of underaged girls).

    Things like what Franken did may seem to fall into more of a gray area, but he is still touching her in a very personal way without her consent, and in my view that’s not gray at all–consent is a very clear line.

    We can judge based on intent, but as Franken himself said, it’s not the intent of the action, it’s the impact.

  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    Related: over the past 20 years, Congress has paid out $15 million in sexual harassment settlements

    Congress paid out $15 million in settlements. Here’s why we know so little about that money

  16. CSK says:

    If it matters, the Associated Press is reporting that Franken’s brother Owen took the photo.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    If Franken does have to leave the Senate would I get in trouble for asking if Amy Klobuchar has a younger sister?

  18. Jen says:

    @Mikey: I should be very clear–I’m wondering more about things along the line of Franken, where “oh, let’s rehearse a kiss in the skit” devolves into something it shouldn’t.

    Clearly, forcing an open-mouthed kiss is gross. But I’ve been around a lot of guys who are “handsy” (and plenty of women too who seem to touch while they talk). It’s shoulders, arms, backs, etc. That crosses a line for some people, not others. It’s unwanted touching–is that harassment? Or is it harassment when the touching goes to breasts and backsides?

    This sort of thing becomes very evident when one is at a restaurant or bar, and while others are drinking you aren’t–people start talking with their hands. I’m not certain it’s completely clear. I’ve been struggling with this because I really rolled my eyes when several women came out and said that George HW Bush handled their backsides, and then I had to check myself: why was I reacting differently? He’s in a wheelchair/his age? Smacks/pats on the backsides are okay? I don’t know. I’m finding myself struggling with some of these and I can’t put my finger on why. It’s disconcerting. And I say this as someone who *has* been inappropriately grabbed, but it was in high school and I wrote it off to guys being dumb.

    I honestly don’t know.

  19. Jen says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think that’s all settlements. They don’t have an accounting breakdown between how many are sexual harassment vs. disability discrimination, age discrimination, etc.

  20. Paul L. says:

    “Accused” There is a picture of Franken sexually assaulting the woman.
    Now the Democrats are gonna circle the wagons.

    Al Franken’s accuser Leeann Tweeden just happens to be a conservative Republican who donated to McCain-Palin vs Obama in 2008 and supported Trump.

  21. charon says:

    @Paul L.:
    @Paul L.:

    Is there some reason you fail to identify who that blockquote is quoting?

    I do not identify “the Democrats” with whoever produced that blockquote.

    Now the Democrats are gonna circle the wagons.

    Chuck Schumer (and other Democratic senators) have called for an Ethics Committee investigation. That is not “circle the wagons.”

  22. grumpy realist says:

    @Paul L.: calling for an ethics investigation is a really funny way of “circling the wagons.”

    I suggest you buy a dictionary of American idioms, since you seem to fail to understand our language.

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Facebones:

    actors and improv guys who get way too handsy during scenes

    I was in a production of Guys and Dolls once, in which the guy who played Sky Masterson was getting handsy with the gal who played Sarah while rehearsing their scenes.

    One of those scenes ends with a slap of the face. At dress rehearsal, ‘Sarah’ (without warning) delivered that slap with her downstage hand, rather than the traditional upstage hand. He turned right into it, and you could see the hand-shaped mark on his face for days.

  24. Mikey says:

    @Jen:

    But I’ve been around a lot of guys who are “handsy” (and plenty of women too who seem to touch while they talk). It’s shoulders, arms, backs, etc. That crosses a line for some people, not others. It’s unwanted touching–is that harassment? Or is it harassment when the touching goes to breasts and backsides?

    Unless a person has some handicap whereby they can’t control where their hands go, and barring legitimately unintended touches (as can happen in close quarters and when conversations become animated), yeah, breasts/buttocks are a different thing than just run-of-the-mill touching, because those are uniformly acknowledged as erogenous zones.

    And even run-of-the-mill touching can become harassment if the person being touched makes it clear they’d rather not be.

    One of the best analogies I’ve seen is Tea and Consent.

  25. Kari Q says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Also…how many of you have ever worn a flak jacket?
    The idea that what Franken is doing in that photo constitutes groping is ridiculous.

    I thought the photo looked like forced perspective – that he wasn’t actually touching her at all. I could be mistaken.

    Either way, though, it doesn’t matter. It was wrong and he should have known better and he didn’t.

    @Gustopher:

    flak jacket or no flak jacket it’s unacceptable.

    Forced perspective or not, too. It really doesn’t matter.

  26. James Pearce says:

    @charon:

    Chuck Schumer (and other Democratic senators) have called for an Ethics Committee investigation. That is not “circle the wagons.”

    No, that is called getting hoisted by your own petard.

  27. Paul L. says:

    @charon:

    Chuck Schumer (and other Democratic senators) have called for an Ethics Committee investigation. That is not “circle the wagons.”

    Not calling for Franken to resign.
    The quote is Democrats talking points.
    Just like Police internal affairs, We investigated ourselves and found we did nothing wrong.

    The Senate has not expelled a member since 1862. It’s not for lack of allegations, evidence, indictments, or convictions.

  28. Kari Q says:

    @Jen:

    I’ve been struggling with this because I really rolled my eyes when several women came out and said that George HW Bush

    H.W. is another person that there have been quiet mutterings about for a long time. I remember hearing back in the 90s that he was someone who couldn’t keep his hands to himself.

  29. charon says:

    @James Pearce:

    No, that is called getting hoisted by your own petard.

    You also could call it putting an example to the GOP, challenging the GOP to match it.

    Minnesota has a Dem governor so no seat flip. Franken is now a liability, generic Dem would be better for the Dems.

  30. Kari Q says:

    @Paul L.:

    Not calling for Franken to resign.

    As I said in my first post, if this is a pattern with him, yes he should resign. But do we really want to establish a pattern where a single accusation is enough to force someone office? Regardless of party? There has to be something more than a single incident of poor behavior, otherwise, anyone with an axe to grind could force a senator out of office.

  31. charon says:

    @Paul L.:

    The Senate has not expelled a member since 1862. It’s not for lack of allegations, evidence, indictments, or convictions.

    That is a stupid talking point as the Senate has conducted ethics investigation that have caused Senators such as Bob Packwood (and several others) to resign to avoid expulsion.

    Besides, the Dems could be better off with Franken out thus avoiding incessant whataboutism about him.

    The Nixon impeachment had no conviction, but Nixon still departed.

  32. James Pearce says:

    @charon:

    You also could call it putting an example to the GOP, challenging the GOP to match it.

    The GOP doesn’t work like that. This is payback from some dirty fighters.

    You’re not going to win by putting on the angel wings and holding up a sign that says “hit me.”

    Franken is now a liability

    Yesterday he wasn’t a liability, but yeah, after everyone saw that picture, he’s definitely a liability now. But what’s at stake isn’t his senate seat.

    What’s at stake is Dem credibility. And they desperately hope by saying “Well, at least we subject our predators to ethics investigations” everyone is going to forget that their line used to be “Your side has all the predators.”

  33. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Pearce:

    What’s at stake is Dem credibility. And they desperately hope by saying “Well, at least we subject our predators to ethics investigations” everyone is going to forget that their line used to be “Your side has all the predators.”

    Louis CK, Weinstein, Spacey etc. are liberals. Liberals took them down. The media industry and Hollywood are having a witch hunt right now because liberals work in those fields. Drag yourself out of your white man’s victim inferiority complex safe zone and at least grasp that.

  34. Jen says:

    @Kari Q: Yeah, and this is where experience leaches into unintentional bias, I think. I worked a photo line with G. H. W. Bush. He was one of the nicest, and most polite politicians we had at one of these types of fundraisers (you invite some high-ranking official in, charge $X to attend, $XX to have a meal, and $XXXX to have a photo op, etc.). He was nice to the staffers, and so on (they aren’t all nice to the staff, I’ll say that much). I even have the photo I got with him framed (but not hanging, those “walls of fame” are weird).

    That’s probably what’s coloring my attitude. He was far and above one of the nicest “VIPs” we had to deal with, so it’s tough to reconcile.

  35. Jen says:

    @James Pearce:

    everyone is going to forget that their line used to be “Your side has all the predators.”

    Nobody has said that. NO ONE.

  36. Kari Q says:

    @Jen:

    I’ve never met him personally, but I have also heard that from those who have: that he is an exceptionally nice person and was always kind and thoughtful of those working with him. It does make it hard to reconcile that with the reports, isn’t it?

  37. Andre Kenji says:

    @Jen:

    Clearly, forcing an open-mouthed kiss is gross. But I’ve been around a lot of guys who are “handsy” (and plenty of women too who seem to touch while they talk). It’s shoulders, arms, backs, etc. That crosses a line for some people, not others. It’s unwanted touching–is that harassment? Or is it harassment when the touching goes to breasts and backsides?

    I live in Brazil, that has a pretty liberal culture about people touching each other(Cheek kissing is used as greeting). It’s pretty easy to known when someone is being handsy, when someone is being inconvenient and when someone is sexually harassing someone.

    Sexual harassment is a matter of power. One could easily argue that Frankein was being inconvenient, not sexually harassing someone. But, I think that’s easy to separate these things.

  38. James Pearce says:

    @Modulo Myself: Spacey, Weinstein, et al, were able to get away with it for decades because they were liberals in a liberal industry, so……not sure I’d beat that drum.

    The Dems have no choice but to destroy Franken, not for any principle, but to save face.

  39. Paul Hooson says:

    It looks only like a very ill-advised attempt to be funny, however only with a girlfriend or wife, not a stranger is such a comedy act acceptable.

  40. the Q says:

    This whole sexual harassment stuff is exactly why the Muslims dress their women in hajibs and burkas.

    Perhaps the wingnut right should suggest this as a solution to keep Christian pervs from fondling teenage genitalia.

  41. Hal_10000 says:

    One side note here: if you contrast Moore vs. Franken, you’ll notice instantly how much wiser it is to admit and apologize rather than furiously (and conspiratorially) deny. Franken might still face some consequences, depending on the scale of this. But I think it will go way better for him than if he’d started screaming that this was all lies.

    (That’s aside from the moral case for apology vs. denial.)

    The older I get, the more I appreciate that just admitting when you’ve done or said something wrong is a critical life skill and can save you some gigantic headaches.

  42. An Interested Party says:

    There must be a straw shortage somewhere as this thread is chock full of straw man arguments…

    The quote is Democrats talking points.

    Complete bull$hit, of course…Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation while President Pu$$y Grabber is actually endorsed by so-called “Christians” who are more worried about having power rather than being real Christians…not to mention the pervert from Alabama who has Republicans/conservatives that are actually condoning his disgusting behavior…

    …everyone is going to forget that their line used to be “Your side has all the predators.”

    I’m not quite sure what alternate reality you live in, but no one is saying this…perhaps the voices in your head are telling you this…

  43. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Spacey, Weinstein, et al, were able to get away with it for decades because they were liberals powerful men in a liberal power industry

    You can’t possibly believe that this had anything to do with Spacey’s politics, can you? Seriously?

    But I’m sure you’re relieved that no one is claiming that race was a factor.

  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    One side note here: if you contrast Moore vs. Franken, you’ll notice instantly how much wiser it is to admit and apologize

    Also, perhaps, how much wiser to inappropriately touch or kiss adults rather than attempting to rape juveniles.

  45. JKB says:

    @Andre Kenji: One could easily argue that Frankein was being inconvenient, not sexually harassing someone.

    What Franken is doing in that photo is straight up workplace sexual harassment with intent to humiliate. They were both contractors working for the USO. I suppose there could be some nuances if they are donating rather than being paid for their time.

    You do that to a coworker on a business trip (actually touching not required) and, especially if the photo is intentionally put in the photo collection for the trip, you have textbook sexual harassment. This photo tells all women traveling with the USO that it is unsafe for them to fall asleep on aircraft or other places where they do not have a locked door.

  46. Interesting Comment says:

    Interesting reader omments over at Talkingpointsmemo:

    What makes her accusations less credible is that she’s a Tea party birther that’s friendly with Sean Hannity attacking a prominent and rising Democratic senator.

    I’m not saying she’s definitely lying, but she certainly does not get the same benefit of the doubt as a random woman accusing a deeply misogynistic man of sexual harassment and assault.

    And

    For example, on March 23, 2011, she appeared on Hannity’s show to promote the birther nonsense, a well known racist dogwhistle and political hoax and LIE, and ganged up with Hannity and the another guest to attack Jerry Springer (who was also a guest) for saying it was ridiculous that people were even asking for Obama’s birth certificate. In other words, she’s clearly willing to fabricate nonsense for political reasons and to further her career by ingratiating herself with the Faux News crowd.

    Interesting that Rodger Stone and InfoWars both knew about this story before she released a statement.

    Opportunist?

  47. Monala says:

    @JKB: I agree with you for once.

  48. Eric Florack says:

    It’s amusing to watch the Democrats trying to figure out what standard to apply to this. The Bill Clinton standard or the Roy Moore standard. The cognitive dissonance is Earth shaking.

    Smicker.

  49. R.Dave says:

    I can’t understand why so many people think that that photo shows Franken groping her. It seems blatantly obvious to me that he’s at least a few inches away and pretending to grope her but not actually touching her. Still crude and disrespectful, obviously, but categorically different than actually assaulting someone in their sleep. To be honest, if the photo were the only issue, I’d just kind of roll my eyes at the excessive pearl clutching.

    The allegations about the kiss are a far more serious matter, of course, and if true, potentially worthy of resignation, but for inherently unproveable, he said / she said allegations like that, I think you really need at least some sort of corroboration – e.g., victim statements to third parties that pre-date their current public statements and/or multiple, unrelated victims coming forward with credible allegations of similar behavior – before imposing serious penalties on the person accused.

  50. CSK says:

    Well, Trump couldn’t stop himself from tweeting about this:

    “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words.”

    Frankenstien

  51. Tyrell says:

    The news sources I follow are not absorbed and obsessed with all this sensationalist stuff, which now is coming out daily about someone. If I want to see that sort of thing I go to Springer. It is obvious the main stream news is into diversion.

  52. Mikey says:

    @Eric Florack: This isn’t even remotely close to the truth.

  53. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You can’t possibly believe that this had anything to do with Spacey’s politics, can you?

    Weinstein was writing checks to Dems between hotel rubdowns for decades. He managed to get away with it because, yes, he was powerful and also because the Dems aren’t the bulwarks against abuse that they think they are.

    Seriously, if you don’t recognize in Franken a little tit for tat over Moore, you’re not paying attention. Hopefully when this is all done there will be a reckoning, not only with the idea that sexual predators are on the right and the left are the virtuous protectors of the innocent (pure self-serving BS, that is), but with the strategy of trying to win elections on personality.

  54. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Eric Florack:

    It’s amusing to watch the Democrats trying to figure out what standard to apply to this. The Bill Clinton standard or the Roy Moore standard. The cognitive dissonance is Earth shaking.

    Really? Shaking?

    Let’s look:

    Roy Moore (twice removed from his seat due to violating the constitution) openly and publicly denies wrongdoing while more than five women (some weeping) come forward to state what he did to them as CHILDREN, public records have him as a nuisance at a local mall, and many in his community openly knew of his questionable desires. Many conservatives state that even if he is a pedophile, they would rather vote for him rather than a Democrat. A large number of evangelical ministers sign a letter stating their support while aware of the situation, and the Alabama GOP issues a statement that they are standing behind him in the election.

    Compared to:

    A woman speaks up about Al Franken. He admits wrongdoing in a photo, publically & specifically apologizes for his actions (which is publicly accepted by the injured party), yet both the Democratic party and himself publicly call for a public ethics review of the situation to ensure that the actions are openly discussed, and if review requires it, he will likely step down.

    So, that is EXACTLY alike to you?

    Eric, I can understand your schadenfreude (as you have been missing from these boards for quite some time), but you are comparing a leaky boat in a lake (Franken) with the sinking of the Titanic (Moore)…

    And, by the way, neither of those two compare with the actions taken by a seated president. With Bill Clinton, he lied about having a consensual affair. The crime was the lie, not the affair.

    Using Bill Clinton’s crime as a standard, are you willing to prosecute the current sitting president for the same crime of lying?

    If so, then consider this:

    President Trump’s list of false and misleading claims tops 1,000

    Finally, Bill Clinton, a married man, was able to work through that remarkably poor personal choice and remained married.

    The current seated president had SEVERAL consensual affairs which resulted in divorce, yet still conservatives elected him president.

    So, apparently, Conservatives do not see a consensual affair (or the destruction of a family unit through divorce) to be a problem. Nor for that matter, lies, as when Trump speaks, dollars to donuts, there is a lie coming out of his mouth.

    So, Eric, having tried to explain this difference to you, can you tell me what the hell is the point you are trying to make?

    Is it you that has the cognitive dissonance problem?

  55. Daryl's other brother Daryll says:

    After thinking about this a great deal, and taking with some close friends, I think Franken should resign.
    The only silver lining in that is it would shine a really bright light on the Assaulter-in-Chief.

  56. wr says:

    @JKB: Very enlightened of you. Still waiting for the faintest criticism of Roy Moore or Donald Trump from you.

  57. charon says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Daryll:

    After thinking about this a great deal, and taking with some close friends, I think Franken should resign.

    I think that is problematic with only one accuser, considering she does not appear to have told anyone about the problematic kissing contemporaneously – that would set a bad precedent by validating other, possibly spurious/motivated accusations. I think it should take more.

    Roy Moore would, if elected, trigger an Ethics Committee investigation. I think ethics investigation is the right path forward for Franken – better precedent and preserves symmetry with Moore, considering the Moore v. Franken comparisons going on.

  58. wr says:

    @Kari Q: “But do we really want to establish a pattern where a single accusation is enough to force someone office? Regardless of party?”

    Of course not. What Paul L and the rest of the Trumpies want is for a single accusation is enough to force any DEMOCRAT from office, while they fight like hell to protect child rapists on their own team.

    And of course, the Purity Police in the Democratic party will happily go along with this in a storm of self-righteous indignation. We will destroy our own champions and then be shocked when we discover that the people left to run the country are corporate whores and neo-fascists.

    It’s the same people who couldn’t possibly vote for Hillary because she was just so darn corrupt, so they went for Jill Stein, and have spent the last year pretending that the election’s outcome had nothing to do with them because they were too pure to participate.

  59. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @charon:

    she does not appear to have told anyone about the problematic kissing contemporaneously

    But then there is the photo.

  60. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @wr:

    What Paul L and the rest of the Trumpies want is for a single accusation is enough to force any DEMOCRAT from office

    Any supporter of Donald Trump has removed themselves from having a credible opinion on this topic.

  61. charon says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    But then there is the photo.

    There is no kissing in the photo. I shouldn’t need to point that out.

  62. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Leeann Tweeden on Franken resigning:

    “That’s not my call. I didn’t do this to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate, you know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide,” Tweeden said on Good Morning America Friday. “I’m not calling for him to step down, that was never my intention. … I just wanted him to understand what he did was wrong.”

  63. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @charon:
    No…but he is groping a sleeping woman, demeaning her in the process.

  64. James Pearce says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Many conservatives state that even if he is a pedophile, they would rather vote for him rather than a Democrat.

    I have heard this many times myself, and yes, it’s absurd and ridiculous and a pretty poor reflection of their decision-making process, but….It should also be a bit of a wake-up call for Democrats.

    Always leave an egress.

  65. Hal_10000 says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Also, perhaps, how much wiser to inappropriately touch or kiss adults rather than attempting to rape juveniles.

    That too. I think what Franken did was wrong and he should apologize. But the idea that it’s comparable to Trump or Moore (pending any further revelations) is a bit much.

  66. Jen says:

    @James Pearce:

    Hopefully when this is all done there will be a reckoning, not only with the idea that sexual predators are on the right and the left are the virtuous protectors of the innocent (pure self-serving BS, that is), but with the strategy of trying to win elections on personality.

    Where on earth are you getting this notion that the left is suggesting sexual predators only exist on the right? I haven’t seen this claim made by anyone, here on this board or anywhere else. It’s insane–from Bill Clinton to Anthony Weiner to Harvey Weinstein, there is ample evidence of predation on the left.

    This is the second time on this thread you’ve made that assertion, please back it up with some evidence.

  67. Tyrell says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: I have read through your well written article several times and I am trying to develop some direction and meaning of all this. I am not a big fan of Judge Roy or Senator Al, but that is neither here nor there. I don’t know what the judge did that was not constitutional. To me his age seems to disqualify him. The so-called “pastors letter” may be an old letter from one of the primaries. Pastors that I have heared on the radio and talked to seem to think he should step down.
    It seems that every day now these sort of allegations are coming out from everywhere. Most people I talk to either haven’t heard about them or just don’t care. They are more concerned about their job, their pay, taxes, surviving from Monday to Friday, terrorists, and now Christmas shopping season has hit them.
    I wonder if these allegations are not some end run attempts to negatate the election process and voters’ choices. I have not had much time to research this.
    If all this past stuff is being brought out, then maybe it should be brought out on everyone. Does anyone not have something hidden in their closets? Or some dirt in the trunk?

  68. al-Ameda says:

    I suppose that in the coming days Justice Clarence Thomas will be called to account for his sexual harassment activity?

    If we’re going to revisit those 20 to 25 year old allegations against Bill Clinton, why not Justice Clarence Thomas too?

  69. Jen says:

    @Tyrell:

    I don’t know what the judge did that was not constitutional.

    He refused to follow the rulings of a higher court. Honestly, I was under the impression that could get a lawyer disbarred.

  70. James Pearce says:

    @Jen:

    Where on earth are you getting this notion that the left is suggesting sexual predators only exist on the right?

    Lefty dogma lays claim to “women” and “feminism” and thinks all the gamer gate bros are Trumpkins or, worse, Berniebros.

  71. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I keep hoping this is a set-up that Franken and Leeann Tweeden cooked up to bait Trump and the Trumplicans into some kind of “fatal” political error.
    I know it’s not…but I keep hoping.

  72. John430 says:

    @charon: Bye, Bye, Al.

    Melanie Morgan, who was a ABC Radio talk show host for KSFO / San Francisco at the time, appeared August 19, 2000 on ABC’s late night show Politically Incorrect.
    Morgan and Franken had a dispute over the OMB’s budget numbers.
    After the show, Morgan said Franken wouldn’t leave her alone, insisting on continuing the argument.
    “He approached me backstage, angrily called me out on those numbers and insisted he would prove he was right. He wouldn’t leave me alone, he kept following me. As a woman, his presence and proximity to me felt very threatening and intimindating.
    “I didn’t realize his creepy behavior after the show meant it would continue in the days to come.
    “He approached Carol, the show’s producer and demanded my home phone number, which was a clear violation of network protocol. I had thought that was the end of the story and was shocked when he started calling my home, badgering me repeatedly.
    “I became fearful and called Carol to complain and asked her to tell him to back off. But he made another call after that. I thought that he might end up stalking me at my home in Northern California, it was that bad.
    “By the third phone call I was outraged and terrified, as he is really disturbed,” Morgan recounted.
    Morgan said Franken finally left her alone, but only after she pushed back and threatened “to call the police and make a report that he was harassing me.”
    To this day, she says she is haunted by it: “I never forgot that experience and it informed me of his lack of character and obsessive personality. I believe every word Leann wrote.”

  73. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Tyrell:

    Tyrell,

    I honestly appreciate your interest. Sincerely!

    Let me provide you with some information that you requested:

    I don’t know what the judge did that was not constitutional.

    From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Moore

    Roy Stewart Moore (born February 11, 1947) is an American politician and former Alabama state judge known for being twice elected to and twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court. He also is the founder and president of the Foundation for Moral Law.

    (lc: I found that last sentence to be kind of ironic)

    In short, He refused to remove a Ten Commandments statue from State owned court Property, and then refused to comply when ordered to do so (loosing his seat the first time) and then on the topic of Same Sex Marriage… well, as you can imagine, lost his seat the second time.

    Both of the events are documented in detail at the provided link.

    So, what we have is a fine upstanding morally righteous pedophile. (well, not technically a pedophile until proven guilty in a court of law, right?)

    And then your question of …

    The so-called “pastors letter” may be an old letter from one of the primaries.

    No, and yes.

    His wife committed fraud by recycling that letter purporting it to be a current list of support of 53 pastors following the breaking news of his pedophilia

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/more-than-50-alabama-pastors-are-publicly-supporting-roy-moore_us_5a09fb51e4b0bc648a0d1e0c

    Several (four) of the pastors on that letter are asking their names to be removed. Most are not, implying their continued support of a man who supposedly has said:

    “He looked at me, and he told me, ‘You’re just a child.’ And he said, ‘I am the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you,’” she added.

    Now I do want to be sure that it is clear that I am not endorsing this type of behavior on anyone’s part (left, right, center or Martian).

    I have already posted several times in the support of #metoo with a link to the following:

    57 Things I Need You to Stop Doing to the Women You Work With

    I did not wish to weigh into this conversation, but when a false equivalency between Moore and Franken’s actions are suggested, it is nearly laughable. Franken was a dope in taking that picture and doing that action (and there is no touching in that picture… if it were a video today, likely he would be saying “honk honk”), and there is the statement that he did attempt to kiss a very beautiful adult woman with out her complete permission… but in no way is that equivalent with the attempted forced rape of under-aged children.

    Sincerely, I appreciate you being inquisitive. I think that is what serves this website best for us all.

    As I have no dog-in-that-race (not living in Minnesota) I leave it to the already discussed inquiry and the Minnesota voters to decide.

  74. charon says:

    @John430:

    I think Melanie Morgan accusation actually diminishes Leann Tweeden’s credibility once you factor in that both ladies are Fox News contributors that have appeared on Hannity.

    Starts to look like a coordinated hit job.

  75. wr says:

    @charon: And there’s nothing here that is remotely sexual, unless we’re suggesting that Franken gets aroused arguing politics. Sorry, but “I don’t like that guy” does not equal sexual harassment.

  76. Todd says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Also…how many of you have ever worn a flak jacket?
    The idea that what Franken is doing in that photo constitutes groping is ridiculous. Piss-poor and tasteless attempt at humor? No doubt. Demeaning to the woman? Definitely. Groping? You wouldn’t be able to feel up Dolly Parton thru a flak jacket

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so if someone has already pointed this out I apologize. I’d say there is a 99% chance that Franken is not even touching the flak jacket itself, let alone her breasts. If you’ve even seen pictures of someone who appears to be holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, or catching the sun on the distant horizon, that’s the type of effect you’re seeing in this picture. It’s bad “humor” for sure, and definitely deserves to carry some consequences. But the fact that so many news sites are using the headline “groped” makes it seem much worse that it almost certainly was.

    BTW, in military circles (this apparently happened as part of a USO tour) this type of “humor” is quite common … which probably speaks to larger problems that still persist in military culture. But I all but guarantee you there are many, many similar type pictures floating around out there … with probably a large percent targeting sleeping males with the “fake lewd” acts. None of that excuses Franken, and none of it minimizes the feeling of of Ms. Tweeden. But as a comedian on a USO tour, I really don’t find something like this picture all that surprising … in fact it’s almost more surprising that more of Franken’s material from his previous life hasn’t been used effectively against him.

    All that being said, the unwanted kiss (while harder to prove) is (and should be) more of a real problem for Franken. It’s much more difficult to pass that off as bad “humor”.

  77. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Lefty dogma lays claim to “women” and “feminism” and thinks all the gamer gate bros are Trumpkins or, worse, Berniebros.

    Straw Man Alert

  78. Zachriel says:

    @CSK: Frankenstien

    It’s Frankensteen.

  79. James Pearce says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Straw Man Alert

    Yeah, okay.

    I’ll never forget the shock on the left when it was revealed that women* broke for Trump.

    * I suppose here is where I’m reminded that minority women supported Hillary, which is another way of saying that women broke for Trump.

  80. Tyrell says:

    Did anyone see the images of Leeann? I was afraid my computer was going to overheat!
    I remember as a teen watch the films of the USO shows featuring Bob Hope, Ann-Margaret, and Raquel Welch. Hope was one lucky guy. Some of the show can be seen on the internet.

  81. Jen says:

    So, Daily Kos has a post that has some additional images from the USO show that Franken and Tweeden appeared in, and one of those pictures seems to show Tweeden grabbing the backside of a guitarist while he was performing.

    LET ME BE CLEAR: this does not absolve Franken’s behavior in the least. But, it does seem to raise the question of Tweeden’s behavior. Does she get a pass, or does this too count as assault?

  82. John430 says:

    @charon: I’m sorry. I didn’t know about the Democrats Get One Free Grope Rule.

  83. Mister Bluster says:

    @John430:..Democrats Get One Free Grope Rule.

    It has been superseded by Trump’s “Grab them by the pussy” campaign slogan.

  84. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party:

    They are calling for an investigation because there’s photographic evidence of his misdeeds.

    Meanwhile in terms of trump do we have any evidence past the recording that the incident actually occurred?

  85. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’ll never forget the shock on the left when it was revealed that women* broke for Trump.

    This is the point at which two things happen, 1 you are shown to be wrong and 2 your biases are once again on stark display.
    from 538

    Preliminary exit poll results show that while she won women by 12 points overall (Trump won men by the same margin, a historic gender gap),1 Clinton lost the votes of white women overall

    Your end snark puts those biases back on display

    * I suppose here is where I’m reminded that minority women supported Hillary, which is another way of saying that women broke for Trump.

    Only if by women you only mean white women, because again, among all women Clinton had a 12% edge over Trump. Trump won non-college educated white women by enough to carry all white women. In Pearceworld apparently this constitutes ‘women’.