Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has apologized and requested a Senate ethics investigation into the allegation that he sexually harassed, Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio anchor.
Franken responded to Tweeden’s allegation and the 2006 photo of him groping her while she was sleeping in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA:
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. 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.
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.
And 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. 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.
Out of all of the recent responses to sexual harassment allegations, Sen. Franken’s in my view has come the closest to doing the right thing. Franken didn’t deny the allegations or attack his accuser. The even better way to handle this is simple. Don’t sexually harass women. However, Franken came clean, took responsibility, demanded an investigation, and volunteered his full cooperation. There was no blaming the victim or questioning their credibility or threats of lawsuits.
Sen. Franken’s response as the opposite of Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Bill O’Reilly, Fox News, or Roger Ailes.
There should be an ethics investigation, and Democrats should condemn Franken’s actions. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse know no political party. Sen. Franken statement was a first step in doing the right thing. The Democratic Party needs to stand up against sexual harassment, and loudly condemn this behavior.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association