A new investigation by the New Yorker has many rushing to the defense of former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who announced his intention to resign in December 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Among the comedian-turned-politician’s supporters is his former fellow Saturday Night Live colleague E. Jean Carroll, a writer who recently went public with her claim that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the ‘90s.
While Carroll’s new book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, details alleged misconduct at the hands of Trump and disgraced ex-CBS head Les Moonves, she is sticking up for Franken. The Elle columnist called the former SNL star, known for his Stuart Smalley sketches, the “least pervy guy I know.”
Following calls to resign from current presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and other Democratic Party leaders, Al Franken stepped down as Minnesota’s junior senator over allegations of sexual misconduct made by eight women. But the New Yorker’s new reporting suggests that Franken was denied due process by being pressured to resign before the claims against him could be thoroughly vetted by an independent investigation, with seven of the senators who called for his departure expressing regret over his ouster. Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy told the magazine’s Jane Mayer that pushing Franken to resign was “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made.”
The article also casts doubt on the first allegation to hit Franken. Model-turned-conservative-broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, who declined to be interviewed for the New Yorker story, claimed that Franken had written a new scene requiring her to kiss him during a U.S.O. tour in 2006 — which other actresses who previously performed in the skit deny — and says that he forcibly kissed her without her consent during a rehearsal, which Franken maintains was part of the production. Tweeden also accused Franken of appearing to grope her while she slept, a moment captured in a photo she made public in 2017. While Franken and other sources insist the photo was merely a comedic moment rather than a sexual pass, he acknowledges that he “genuinely, genuinely felt bad” it after Tweeden’s allegations surfaced.
“What’s wrong with the picture to me is that she’s asleep,” he told Mayer. “If you’re asleep, you’re not giving your consent.”
Carroll isn’t the only SNL vet vouching for Franken, with actress Jane Curtin calling him one of the few non-sexist men she encountered at the late-night show.
“He’s lots of things, some delightful, some annoying,” said writer James Downey. “He can be very aggressive interpersonally. He can say mean things, or use other people as props. He can seem more confident that the audience will find him adorable than he ought to. His estimate of his charm can be overconfident. But I’ve known him for 47 years and he’s the very last person who would be a sexual harasser.”
“It’s tragic,” added Christine Zander, another former SNL writer. “All the women who know him from SNL and in New York and L.A. signed a petition, but it wasn’t enough ... It makes you feel terrible and depressed, especially when there are people running the country who need to be charged.”
Carroll, whose claims of sexual assault have been denied by Trump, is getting some grief for voicing support for Franken.
jean, says a lot about the guys you know.— billtonelli (@notille) July 22, 2019
Hmmm... don't really get this tweet. Are we not to believe the 8 credible accusations of sexual harassment against him because he's not a 'pervy guy'?— Nancy Koziol (@nancykoziol2) July 22, 2019
Sigh, way to make the women who he kissed or attempted to kiss without their permission feel belittled and dismissed because progressive women like Al and/or his politics. I hate that this story was written.— Jennifer Rindahl (@jlrindahl) July 22, 2019
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