Update: Franken has issues a longer apology, and he has stated that he will cooperate with the ethics investigation:
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing — and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine — is: I’m sorry.
I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
But I want to say something else, too. 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. Its obvious how Leeann would feel violated by it — women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experience, women who look up to me, women who had counted on me.
Coming form 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.
While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.
I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”
Tweeden has accepted the apology. Sort of.
Leeann Tweeden says she accepts Al Franken's apology, but wonders why he didn't apologize to her 11 years ago when he had the chance. pic.twitter.com/2FP8dN8j3B— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) November 16, 2017
Look: If you’re going to call out sexual harassment and assault, you gotta be equitable. You can’t ignore it if it doesn’t suit your politics. Otherwise, calling out the other side becomes meaningless. And here’s the thing: There’s a lot of talk about sexual harassment in Congress right now. Millions of dollars have been paid to settle cases. Female Senators have been coming forward in the last few days to talk about the culture of harassment. They have said that it’s still ongoing, and they have said that it involves current members, and they have said that it’s bad, like “Afraid to be in the elevator alone with a male Congressman” bad.
No names have been named yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Resignations will likely be forced. It’s probably going to be a bloodbath on both sides of the aisle.
If this story is any indication, one of our liberal heroes, Senator Al Franken, may be one who goes down, or at least is badly damaged. The picture above doesn’t do the whole story justice. You can read Leeann Tweeden’s full account over here, but the long and short of it is this: The year was 2006. Model, TV host, and sports broadcaster Tweeden was involved in a USO Tour to entertain the troops. Along with her was Senator Al Franken, who had written into a sketch a kiss between Franken and Tweeden. Tweeden wasn’t happy about it, but figured she’d bail on the kiss during the sketch. However, Franken insisted on rehearsing it against her objections, and when they did rehearse he, he shoved his tongue down her throat. Ew.
During the actual sketch, she turned her head to avoid the kiss, and afterwards, Franken pulled some petty shit, like drawing devil horns on a headshot of her.
It was when she was going through photos later that she spotted the one above.
I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.
I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.
How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?
Jesus, Franken. Jesus. Be better than this, man.
Update: Franken’s response.
Just got a response from @alfranken: "I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."— Asher Klein (@kleinstar) November 16, 2017