I’ll admit that I was quite surprised to see Al Franken’s name appear on the list of men charged with sexual assault — not because I know him, but because he never seemed to be that kind of guy. Shows you what a judge of character I am.
I only know Leeann Tweeden from seeing her host “Poker After Dark” on NBC for many years, but I don’t doubt her story one bit — it’s awfully hard to deny when she has posted the above photo. She’s now the morning news anchor on KABC-AM/Los Angeles, and what she says Franken did to her during a 2006 USO tour is disgusting and worthy of scorn.
Franken’s original apology was lame, but he must have had staffers help him re-draft it, so in the new version, he sounds sincere — particularly these paragraphs:
Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
Franken has a political reputation as a strong advocate for women. It doesn’t matter, any more than Louis CK’s history of helping women like Pamela Adlon and Tig Notaro get their own TV shows. None of it erases the ugliness of what they’ve done, which says so much more than their words.
I can hear the right-wing laughing hysterically as it equates Franken’s misdeeds with those of Roy Moore, but there’s no comparison because the charges against the latter amount to pedophilia, which will always rank higher on the List Of Horrible Things Men Have Done. That doesn’t mean Franken gets a pass, of course, but I honestly don’t know if the Tweeden story should mean he’s expelled from the senate, or what the other options might be. I can predict that you won’t hear many comments about the political angle that aren’t tainted by agendas.
Here’s another difference between Franken and Moore. The former has shown that he understands that what he did was wrong and apologized for it. That doesn’t make it okay by any means, but it is much better than the latter, who has not even acknowledged that he did any of the acts he’s accused of. Neither has the current occupant of the White House.
One other point. I’ve read terrible comments online about how Tweeden should have expected to be treated that way because she’d been a model for Frederick’s Of Hollywood, FHM, Maxim, and Playboy. That’s nothing less than victim-blaming, in the same manner as idiots who say, “She deserved to be groped because she was wearing a mini-skirt.” Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.
On my radio show today, I had originally booked Jen Chaney of Vulture to talk about three new TV pilots Amazon has made. We eventually got around to them, but not before we discussed the Franken story, some old accusations against Sly Stallone that have just come to light, and new info about Kevin Spacey, too.