Working with Al

Janine Nichols on Facebook November 16:

I worked with Al Franken for many years at SNL and beyond and he is in NO WAY a sexual harasser. In fact, I remember an instance in which he defended me from the unwanted advances of a piece of shit host I shall not name. When I think of the drug use and general debauchery of the Not Ready For Prime Time years — and believe me, we were pretty much always laughing — Franken was a fucking choir boy compared to others I could name. I never even saw him smoke any weed, though maybe he did: He was friends with, toured with, the Grateful Dead, after all. They had weed that made you forget your own name. THAT I remember!

The penalty for every sexual transgression cannot be ruination. If we’re going to achieve some culture-wide measure of enlightenment, we have to recognize this. Offensive sexual behaviors run from annoying to creepy to hideous to murder (list incomplete) and we have to find a way to acknowledge this. We’re up against centuries, fuck, millennia of patriarchy. It’s not going to be over by the time I leave this earth, but it’s going to be much much better for girls and women than it is today. And that’s going to make things better for men, too. Because we are going to use our growing power wisely, right? Not like MEN do.

I saw Michelle Goldberg on All In tonight. I am a fan of hers. I was shocked to hear her say that she has a column out calling for Franken’s resignation but she’s not really sure if she was right to do that. So maybe wait until you’re sure what you want to say before you say it? How’s that for an idea?

I accept Al’s apology. I note that it included the words “I am sorry,” which is more than C.K. or any other of the recently accused could muster. I’ll be stunned if there are more accusations against him. I never saw it in him. He’s been married to the same gal for over 40 years; they threw my wedding shower.

Franken could be mean as a snake, don’t get me wrong, and he had a badass temper; he was a pit bull. I imagine he is still capable of such behavior. But I never saw him sexually harass anyone and I hope to fuck he doesn’t resign.

There are degrees. I do think the photo was an asshole move, whether or not his hands made contact with her front bumps. I think it was an asshole move, but it’s not the same as a long history of skeeving on women at work. If a sweary colleague says he fucking wasn’t like that, and three dozen women who worked with him on SNL issue a statement saying the same thing, I tend toward believing them.

Three dozen women who worked with Sen. Al Franken during his tenure on “Saturday Night Live” came out in defense of the Minnesota Democrat facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

In the letter, the women slammed Franken’s behavior toward Leeann Tweeden — who accused the lawmaker of forcibly kissing and groping her more than a decade ago — as “stupid and foolish” but wrote that “not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior” from the former SNL cast member.

“We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on Saturday Night Live (SNL). What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public,” the women wrote. “In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant.”

“That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard,” they added.

There are degrees. Yes, I’m probably more inclined to say there are degrees when it’s someone who doesn’t use his political power to oppress women than I am when it’s someone who does; I’m funny that way.

Following Tweeden’s allegation, a group of former female staffers in Franken’s office and on his campaigns penned a letter in which they wrote that Franken “treated us with the utmost respect,” “valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices.”

In addition, his former chief of staff, Casey Aden-Wansbury, defended Franken, saying in a statement that “he has always worked hard to create a respectful environment for his staff.”

Yesterday a woman said he grabbed her firmly on the butt while taking a picture with her at a state fair. Make of it what you will.

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