Democrat Senator and vocal women’s rights supporter Al Franken has been caught in the latest high-profile claims of sexual assault, as a shock photo shows the senator pretending to grope a female reporter’s chest while she was asleep on a plane.
Leeann Tweeden, who currently works as a news anchor on KABC Radio in Los Angeles, tweeted out a picture of Al Franken attempting to grab her chest on a airplane that they were flying on after participating in a USO Tour in 2006.
— Leeann Tweeden (@LeeannTweeden) November 16, 2017
Tweeden tells her story and describes a skit for the USO show that both her and Franken were putting on for the troops overseas. The skit, written by Franken himself, included a scene where he was support to kiss Tweeden, which ended up turning into a nightmare for her.
Franken had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.
As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.
When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.
On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’
He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.
He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.
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.
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.
Tweeden states that she tried to let the incident go and didn’t want to cause a scene during a performance meant for the troops. Although she attempted to avoid Franken after the alleged forced kissing, she claims he started to retaliate towards her for not accepting his advances.
Not long after, I performed the skit as written, carefully turning my head so he couldn’t kiss me on the lips.
No one saw what happened backstage. I didn’t tell the Sergeant Major of the Army, who was the sponsor of the tour. I didn’t tell our USO rep what happened.
At the time I didn’t want to cause trouble. We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our Holiday tour, I was a professional, and I could take care of myself. I told a few of the others on the tour what Franken had done and they knew how I felt about it.
I tried to let it go, but I was angry.
Other than our dialogue on stage, I never had a voluntary conversation with Al Franken again. I avoided him as much as possible and made sure I was never alone with him again for the rest of the tour.
Franken repaid me with petty insults, including drawing devil horns on at least one of the headshots I was autographing for the troops.
But he didn’t stop there.
The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet.
It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one:
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?
I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.
I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.
But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.
Today, I am the news anchor on McIntyre in the Morning on KABC Radio in Los Angeles. My colleagues are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever worked with in my career. Like everyone in the media, we’ve been reporting on the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations since they broke, and the flood of similar stories that have come out about others.
Al Franken responded in a statement saying his groping of Leeann Tweeden was “intended to be funny”. I can’t help but wonder if the Democrats and feminists will mock Franken for his choice of words, as there should be nothing funny about attempting to molest a sleeping woman and taking a photo of it while laughing about it.
NEW Stmt from @SenFranken: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.”
Says he “shouldn’t have done” the picture. pic.twitter.com/cJ0avgDroM
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 16, 2017
It’s important to note that Franken has been an ardent supporter of women’s rights and progressive feminist agenda, as he often voiced in his many pro-Clinton tweets during the election last year.
— Al Franken (@alfranken) January 22, 2016
If these allegations are true, it appears that some of the loudest pro-women’s rights officials are also some of the worst abusers of women, as we have seen many times over since Harvey Weinstein’s misdeeds have come to light.
Franken may have to warm up for another statement/denial of alleged sexual assault, as reports of a second accuser are already making their way across social media.
I’ve already heard about a second Al Franken victim.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) November 16, 2017
The sexual harassment claims that both Democrat and Republican establishment politicians have been trumpeting against Judge Roy Moore appear to have come full circle. The same outrage and calls for Moore to “step aside” from his candidacy in Alabama by so-called Republican allies Mitch McConnell and John McCain must now be levied against fellow Senator Al Franken for his misdeeds a decade ago. After all, the accusations against Moore lack any physical evidence as Franken’s actions do with the surfacing of a photograph today along with the senator’s own admission to the misdeed.
However, Senator Al Franken is a long-time member of the Democratic Party in good standing and has faithfully attacked Donald Trump at every given opportunity. It was astonishing how quickly media pundits and politicians became the “judge and jury” regarding the accusations against Roy Moore, which mysteriously surfaced after 40 years and only 30 days before the Alabama special election. Very few in the mainstream media were willing to even give Moore the benefit of the doubt, let alone calling for actual evidence prior to making a judgment. No, instead establishment politicians such as John McCain, Mitch McConnell Bob Corker and even Mitch Romney came out of the woodwork and demanded Moore relinquish his candidacy.
Now, after Al Franken has been caught “red handed” in groping a woman while she was asleep, will there be equal calls for him to “step aside” from his role in the US Senate. Unlikely, as the furthest Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is willing to do is refer the case to the Senate Ethics committee, conveniently made up of members of the same “swamp” that Al Franken currently resides in.
It appears the hit jobs against Roy Moore will have to take a pause, at least for today, as Al Franken’s own situation is taking center stage, as the hashtags #ResignAlFranken and #FrankenFondles make their way across Twitter.