When Franken to be asked if that regretted his decision to resign indigenous the Senate, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.”Photograph by Geordie hardwood for The brand-new Yorker

Last month, in Minneapolis, i climbed the stairs that a row home to uncover Al Franken, Minnesota’s disgraced former senator, wandering around in jeans and also stocking feet. It was a clear day, but the shades were greatly drawn. Takeout containers that hummus and carrot sticks were collection out on the kitchen table. His wife, Franni Bryson, to be stuck in their apartment in Washington, D.C., through a cold, and he had actually evidently excellent the best he could to be hospitable. Yet the place felt choose the kind of man cave where who hides the end from the world, i beg your pardon is more or much less what Franken has actually been doing due to the fact that he resigned, in December, 2017, between accusations of sex-related impropriety.

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There had actually been occasional sightings of him: in Washington, human being mentioned having glimpsed that riding the metro or searching alone in a bookstore; there to be gossip the he had fallen into a depression, and also had been checked out in a fetal position on a friend’s couch. Yet Franken had experienced among the most abrupt downfalls in current political memory. He had actually been perhaps the many recognizable figure in the Senate, in part because he’d gone into it as a celebrity: a best-selling author and also a former writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live.” currently Franken was just one much more face in a collection of previously powerful men who had been brought down by the #MeToo movement, and also whom no one want to hear native again. America had actually ghosted him.


Only two years ago, Franken to be being speak up as a feasible challenger to chairman Donald trump in 2020. In Senate hearings, Franken had actually proved himself to be among the many effective movie critics of the trump card Administration. His difficult questioning that Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, had led Sessions come recuse self from the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election, and prompted the meeting of Robert Mueller as one-of-a-kind counsel.

As it turns out, Franken’s only role in the 2020 Presidential campaign has been together a number of controversy. Top top June 4th, Pete Buttigieg was commonly criticized on society media because that saying that he would certainly not have pressured Franken come resign—as had virtually all his democratic rivals that were then in the Senate—without an initial learning an ext about the alleged incidents. In ~ the same time, the Presidential candidacy of city council Kirsten Gillibrand has actually been plagued through questions around her duty as the first of 3 dozen democratic senators to demand Franken’s resignation. Gillibrand has cast herself as a feminist champion that “zero tolerance” toward sex-related impropriety, but Democratic donors sympathetic to Franken have stunted her fund-raising and, Gillibrand says, tried to “intimidate” her “into silence.”

Franken’s autumn was stunningly swift: he resigned only three weeks after Leeann Tweeden, a conservative talk-radio host, accused him of having forced an undesirable kiss on her during a 2006 U.S.O. Tour. Seven an ext women complied with with accusations versus Franken; all of them centered on inappropriate touches or kisses. Half the accusers’ names have actually still not come to be public. Back both Franken and Tweeden referred to as for an independent investigation into her charges, none took place. This reticence mirrors the cultural moment: in one era once women’s accusations of sex-related discrimination and also harassment are lastly being take away seriously, after year of belittlement and also dismissal, some see it as offensive to topic accusers to scrutiny. “Believe Women” has end up being a credo of the #MeToo movement.

At his house, Franken stated he construed that, in such an atmosphere, the public could not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, the said, “I nothing think civilization who have actually been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to listen from human being who have been #MeToo’d the they’re victims.” Yet, the added, gift on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which the fervently supports, has led that to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality that punishment, and also the aftermath of Internet-fuelled outrage. That told me that his therapist had actually likened his experience to “what happens as soon as primates room shunned and also humiliated by the remainder of the various other primates.” your reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, “is ‘I’m walking to dice alone in the jungle.’ ”


Now sixty-eight, Franken is short and also sturdily built, v bristly gray hair, tortoiseshell glasses, and a wide, froglike mouth indigenous which he has tendency to speak out the one corner. Despite his present isolation, Franken is recognized virtually everywhere he goes, and he frequently gets quit on the street. “I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me the this, usually through some variation of ‘You shouldn’t have resigned,’ ” Franken said. He appreciates the support, but such comments torment him around his exit from the Senate. He tends to answer curtly, “Yup.”


*
“I’d it is in happy to rescue you, but very first can you assist me under from this chair?”
When ns asked the if he important regretted his decision to resign, the said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.” that wishes that he had showed up before a Senate ethics Committee hearing, together he had actually requested, allowing him to marshal facts the countered the narrative aired in the press. That is extremely rare because that a senator come resign under pressure. No senator has actually been expelled since the polite War, and also in modern-day times just three have actually resigned under the risk of expulsion: Harrison Williams, in 1982, Bob Packwood, in 1995, and also John Ensign, in 2011. Williams resigned after he was convicted that bribery and conspiracy; Packwood faced numerous sexual-assault accusations; Ensign was accused of making illegal payoffs to hide one affair.

A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have actually regrets about their very own roles in his fall. 7 current and former U.S. Senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d to be wrong to perform so. Together admissions are unusual in an college whose members hardly ever concede mistakes. Patrick Leahy, the veteran Democrat native Vermont, stated that his decision to look for Franken’s resignation without very first getting all the facts to be “one the the biggest mistakes i’ve made” in forty-five year in the Senate. Heidi Heitkamp, the former senator from north Dakota, told me, “If there’s one decision i’ve made that I would certainly take back, the the decision to contact for his resignation. It was made in the warm of the moment, without worry for precisely what this was.” Tammy Duckworth, the junior autonomous senator indigenous Illinois, called me that the Senate values Committee “should have been enabled to relocate forward.” She stated it was crucial to acknowledge the trauma that Franken’s accusers had actually gone through, yet added, “We needed much more facts. The due procedure didn’t happen is not an excellent for our democracy.” Angus King, the elevation senator indigenous Maine, claimed that he’d “regretted it ever since” he join the speak to for Franken’s resignation. “There’s no excuse for sexual assault,” he said. “But Al deserved an ext of a process. Ns don’t denigrate the allegations, yet this to be the political tantamount of resources punishment.” councilor Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, told me, “This to be a sirloin to judgment that didn’t enable any of us to totally explore what this to be about. I took the judgment of my peers rather than independently assessing the circumstances. In my heart, I’ve not felt right around it.” invoice Nelson, the former Florida senator, said, “I realized almost right away I’d made a mistake. I felt terrible. I should have stood up for due process to render what it’s supposed to—the truth.” Tom Udall, the senior Democratic senator from brand-new Mexico, said, “I do a mistake. I started having 2nd thoughts shortly after he stepped down. He had actually the ideal to it is in heard by an independent investigative body. I’ve heard indigenous people roughly my state, and around the country, saying that they think he got railroaded. It no seem fair. I’m a lawyer. I really believe in early process.”


Former Senate minority Leader harry Reid, who watched the drama unfold from retirement, called me, “It’s devastating what occurred to him. It to be unfair. It took the legs out from under him. He was a really fine senator.” countless voters have additionally protested Franken’s decision. A Change.org petition urging Franken come retract his resignation received more than seventy-five thousand signatures. The declared, “There’s a difference between abuse and also a mistake.”

In current months, Franken has actually witnessed a prominent Democrat survive a similar political storm: this previous spring, several women accused Joe Biden of unwanted kissing or touching at rallies and also other politics events. Biden apologized but never stopped campaigning for President. Unlike Biden, though, Franken was recorded on camera. His undoing began with a photograph, which was released by a conservative talk-radio terminal on November 16, 2017. The photo was taken in 2006, the year before Franken very first ran for the Senate. In ~ the time, he to be on his seventh U.S.O. Tour, entertain American troops abroad as a comedian. The photograph catches him ~ above a army plane, mugging because that the camera as he performs a lecherous pantomime. He’s leering at the lens v his hands outstretched towards the breasts the his U.S.O. Co-star, Tweeden, who is put on a armed forces helmet, fatigues, and a bulletproof vest. Franken’s hands show up to be nearly touching she chest, and also Tweeden look at to be asleep—and as such not consenting to the joke.


Some human being saw the photograph as a mere gag. Emily Yoffe, creating in The Atlantic, dubbed the photo “an inoffensive burlesque the a burlesque.” Yoffe, who has said that guys accused of sexual misdeeds deserve more due process, listed that Franken and also Tweeden to be “on a U.S.O. Tour, i beg your pardon is a raunchy vaudeville throwback.” yet the minute the photograph surfaced the went viral, and condemnation come from both conservatives and liberals. Breitbart, i m sorry loathed Franken’s politics, elicited gleeful comments from readers after it posted a piece from Slate, a liberal publication, headlined “Franken should Resign Immediately.” The article argued that “there is no rational reason to doubt the reality of Tweeden’s accusations, no legit defense of Franken’s actions, and no ambiguity.” Sean Hannity, Fox News’ best star, also quoted the Slate piece, and on his display he interviewed Tweeden—a friend who had actually been a guest ~ above his display dozens that times, often as a booster that the military. The media uproar was additional heightened by one impassioned personal statement exit by Tweeden’s Los Angeles radio station, KABC-AM, which listed her account that the story behind the photograph.

The damning image, Tweeden said, to be the culmination of a campaign of sex-related harassment that Franken had actually subjected she to after ~ she had spurned his developments at the begin of the U.S.O. Tour, i m sorry lasted 2 weeks. It to be Tweeden’s ninth U.S.O. Gig, yet her an initial with Franken. She alleged that he had written a skit v a kissing scene expressly for her, informing her, “When I discovered out you were coming ~ above this tour, I created a small scene, if friend will, v you in it.” She claimed that once she observed the script, which compelled them to kiss, “I doubt what he was after, yet I figured I can turn my head in ~ the last minute.”

According to Tweeden’s statement, ~ they landing in Kuwait, the tour’s very first stop, Franken said her, “We must practice the kissing scene.” at first, she said, she “blew him off,” but “he persisted” so aggressively the it “reminded me of, like, the Harvey Weinstein tape”; Weinstein, she noted, had been taped “badgering” a resistant sex-related victim. Just 5 weeks prior to Tweeden released she statement, the Times and this magazine had published allegations accusing Weinstein the serial sexual harassment, assault, and rape. The resulting outcry had actually emboldened women throughout the nation to speak out about their own victimization; online, the hashtag #MeToo emerged. Tweeden quote these breakthroughs as having actually inspired her to come forward about Franken.

She composed that, in 2006, she’d originally told Franken the it was unnecessary come rehearse, saying, “Al, this no ‘S.N.L.’ ” She relented only so that he would certainly “shut up.” The rehearsal occurred, she said, in a makeshift gym behind the stage. As soon as they obtained to the kiss, Tweeden said, “he just put his hand on the earlier of mine head, and also he mashed his face versus it.” She went on, “He grounding his tongue in my mouth for this reason fast—and all that I might remember is that his lips were yes, really wet, and also it was slimy.” Privately, she started thinking the Franken together Fish Lips. She emphasized that she’d combated back: “I moved him off v my hands, and also I remember, I almost punched him.” Afterward, she hands instinctively clenched “into fists” at any time she saw him. She said that she had warned him that “if he ever before did that to me again i wouldn’t it is in so nice around it the following time.” Tweeden said, “I to be violated.”


Tweeden created that she “never had actually a voluntary conversation with Franken again.” when they perform the kiss onstage, she said, “trust me, the didn’t acquire close to my face.” She claimed that, because she had actually felt powerless, she hadn’t report the assault to the armed forces authorities. She declared that she had actually “told a few others ~ above the tour what Franken had actually done and also how ns felt,” however her all set statement listed no name of corroborators. Franken, she said, “repaid me with petty insults” for having actually rejected him. The doodled “devil horns” ~ above a head shot of hers. As a last act the reprisal, Franken demeaned her through the photograph of her sleeping. Tweeden remembered plainly that the photograph had actually been handled the last day that the tour, Christmas Eve, as “we began the 36-hour trip house to L.A.” and “our C-17 cargo airplane took turn off from Afghanistan.”

Tweeden concluded her statement by declaring, “Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny around sexual assault.” She continued, “You knew exactly what you were doing. Friend forcibly kissed me without my consent, got my breasts while ns was sleeping, and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would view it later, and also be ashamed.”

She stated that it wasn’t till she reverted home and received a CD of pictures from the tourism photographer the she saw the photo of Franken pretending come grope her while she slept. “I feel violated almost everywhere again,” she said. At the moment, she had actually wanted come “shout my story come the world,” but hadn’t felt secure enough. Now, she said, she wanted “other victim of sexual assault to be able to speak out,” adding, “I desire the days of quiet to be over.”

Tweeden go public the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving, if Congress was wrapping up because that the holiday break. In ~ 9:54 a.m., Ed Shelleby, Franken’s deputy cook of staff, was at his desk in the Capitol once he noticed that a strange e-mail had actually arrived in an office account. The topic line to be “Comment Requested,” and also the sender was Nathan Baker, the news director in ~ KABC-AM. The e-mail said that the station’s “morning journey anchor,” Leeann Tweeden, had written “a piece around experiences she had actually with city council Franken while on a U.S.O. Tour.” it noted, “If friend have any kind of reaction or comment from the city council we would of course include it in our coverage.” There to be a connect to Tweeden’s statement and also to the photograph, both of which had currently been post on the Internet. Shelleby dubbed Franken’s chief of staff, Jeff Lomonaco. “We gotta acquire Al!” Shelleby said. “We’ve got this thing! ”

Franken was in a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lomonaco ran with a series of corridors and pulled that out.


*

“What’s going on?” Franken said.

“It’s important,” Lomonaco said.

“But I want to vote,” Franken protested.

Lomonaco showed him the KABC-AM story and also the photograph.


Oh, mine God, mine life! mine life! to be Franken’s very first thought. That remembered the snapshot being taken, yet he was stunned through Tweeden’s account. He had actually thought that they to be on trusted terms. In 2009, she had actually attended a U.S.O. Awards ceremony, in Washington, honoring him; photographs that the event record them laughing together. He had actually no storage of her having balked in ~ the kissing scene, and knew that he hadn’t written it because that her. He had actually written the in 2003, and performed it on other U.S.O. Tours prior to meeting her.

In Franken’s 2017 book, “Al Franken, gigantic of the Senate,” which to be published before Tweeden’s accusations, he writes of being preoccupied throughout the 2006 tour with deciding even if it is to operation for public office. Rather on the expedition confirm this, recalling that he spent much of his downtime studying plan positions with an assistant, Andy Barr. Records display that Franken had actually already set up a political-action committee, and he announced his Senate bid soon after return home.

Tweeden might well have actually felt harassed, and also even violated, through Franken, yet he insisted to me the her variation of events is “just no true.” He evidenced that he had actually rehearsed the skit with her, noting, “You constantly rehearse.” The script, that recalled, dubbed for a guy to “surprise” a woman with a kiss, in a “sort that sudden” way, and though Tweeden had actually read the script, it’s possible that in the moment he startled her. Tweeden wasn’t an actress—before going into broadcasting, she had actually been a Frederick’s that Hollywood model—so she may have actually been unfamiliar with rehearsals. But Franken said, the Tweeden, “I don’t remember her being take away aback.” that adamantly denied having actually stuck his tongue in she mouth.

Franken’s longtime fund-raiser, A. J. Goodman, a previous criminal-defense lawyer, called me the it was “easy come see how it might have grossed Tweeden out” to be kissed by Franken. In ~ the time, Franken to be fifty-five, and his garments tended toward mom jeans and garish windbreakers. “He was like your uncle Morty,” Goodman recalled. “He wasn’t Cary Grant. However tongue down the throat? No. I’ve excellent hundreds of events with this guy. I’ve been on the road and on his publication tours through him.” She claimed that Franken was “five hundred every cent devoted” come Bryson, his wife, who he met throughout his freshman year in ~ Harvard. “He deserve to be a jerk, however he’s all around his family,” Goodman said. (Franken and also Bryson have actually a daughter, a son, and also four grandchildren.)

In Hollywood, Franken’s reputation had been much from wild. According to Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad’s book, “Saturday Night,” once Franken operated on “S.N.L.” that was viewed as a stickler and a “self-appointed hallway monitor” figure. James Downey, who spent years writing because that the show, said me, that Franken, “He’s numerous things, some delightful, some annoying. He have the right to be really aggressive interpersonally. He have the right to say mean things, or use other civilization as props. He deserve to seem an ext confident the the audience will uncover him adorable 보다 he chandelier to. His calculation of his charm have the right to be overconfident. But I’ve recognized him for forty-seven years and also he’s the an extremely last human who would certainly be a sexual harasser.”


As Franken soaked up Tweeden’s statement and also the photograph, he realized that, offered the recent rise of the #MeToo movement, “anyone that wanted to read the photograph as confirming what ns was accused of can do that. I taken that best away. And also boom—I to be instantly in shock.”

Franken no the only one. Two actresses who had actually performed the same role as Tweeden on previously U.S.O. Tours through him, Karri Turner and also Traylor Portman, immediately recognized the Tweeden was wrong come say the Franken had written the component in order to kiss her. Both ladies told me that they fully supported the #MeToo movement and could speak just to their very own experiences. Yet Turner shown that she had acted in the very same skit in 2003. Video footage of her performing it, which deserve to be seen online, mirrors that the script was altered for Tweeden just by cutting referrals to “JAG,” a TV display in which Turner starred. In a statement, Turner stated that “no woman should have actually to resolve any type of harassment, ever!” but on her two U.S.O. Tours v Franken, she said, “there was nothing inappropriate towards me,” adding, “I just experienced a person that was passionate to do soldiers laugh.”

Traylor Portman, who supplied her maiden name, Traylor Howard, while appearing on the TV display “Monk,” said that she also played the function in Franken’s skit, in 2005. “It’s not accurate for she to say it was composed for her,” Portman called me. She had actually rehearsed the kissing scene v Franken, and also hadn’t objected, since “you’re going to practice—that’s what experts do.” She said that the scene connected “what looked favor kissing however wasn’t,” adding, “It’s simply for comic relief. I guess you can turn her head, but whatever—it’s nothing. I remained in sitcoms. You simply play it for laughs.”


Portman walk on, “I get the whole #MeToo thing, and also a entirety lot of dreadful stuff has actually happened, and also it essential to change. But that’s not what was happening here.” She added, “Franken is a great man. I remember him talk so sweetly and also lovingly around his wife.” Portman recalled, “There to be Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders there, and he no pay any type of special fist to them. He had actually a good rapport with everyone. He to be hilarious. The was simply trying to get them come laugh. It was around entertaining world who to be risking their lives.” Asked about the allegation the Franken attracted “devil horns” on Tweeden’s head shot, Portman said, “It doesn’t sound out of line for him—but please. To get offended by that sounds ridiculous, like 4th grade.”


*
“Please, speak to me Michael—Mr. Met is my father’s name.”
Franken’s insurance claim that he created the skit years before Tweeden’s performance was additionally borne out by interviews that he go on NPR in 2004 and 2005. He defined the skit as a throwback to the frankly lascivious U.S.O. Sketches that Bob Hope supplied to do with Raquel Welch. The conceit of Franken’s skit is that a nerdy male officer has actually written a part for a beautiful younger woman, and also she needs to audition because that it. Together she reads aloud from the script, she grows suspicious yet keeps going, at some point reaching the line “Now kiss me!” To she disgust, the officer lustily walk so. The stage directions in the 2006 version of the manuscript say “Al take away Leeann and plants a kiss on her. Leeann fights him off.” She then reproaches him, saying, “You just wrote this so that you could kiss me!”

“Yeah,” Franken’s personality admits. (In videos the the skit, the audience bursts out laughing.)

The young mrs protests, “If i were going come kiss everyone here, it would certainly be among these brave men—or women.” Pointing come the audience, she calls a arbitrarily soldier onstage, who starts reading from the script. Once the soldier says, “Now kiss me!,” the stage directions contact for “a long deep kiss” indigenous Tweeden. In video clip footage, she appears to it is in gamely play the part, setting off hoots and hollers indigenous the crowd.

It was “surreal,” Franken said me, the Tweeden had publicly said of him, “I think he created that sketch simply to kiss me”; her language to be essentially obtained from his skit. Moreover, her fighting the off and expressing fury had additionally been scripted by him. But it seemed impossible to relay together nuances to the press. Explaining the her accusations appropriated jokes indigenous comic routines the they’d performed together would be together dizzying together describing one Escher drawing.

The U.S.O. Skit didn’t end with the kissing scene. In a coda, Franken appears as a doctor who has just had actually “a cancellation” in his meeting schedule. Tweeden’s character is notified that “a mrs your age should have actually a finish breast examination every year”; Franken then ideologies her v his eight outstretched and also his hands aimed at she chest. The script calls for Tweeden’s personality to protest, “Al! at ease!” Franken, through a dirty-old-man nod to the audience, replies, “I’m afraid it’s a little too late because that that.”

The hoax was not memorable, yet as soon as Shajn Cabrera witnessed the 2006 picture of Franken ~ above the plane, approaching Tweeden’s chest with his eight outstretched, he immediately recalled the “Dr. Franken” skit. Cabrera had been top top the plane when the photo was taken. In ~ the time, he was a one-of-a-kind assistant to the Sergeant major of the Army, that hosts the U.S.O. Tours. “I was the one who put the expedition together,” Cabrera said. Looking at the photograph, he assumed that “it to be a hundred every cent in line v that skit as soon as he does the chest exam.” The image, that said, “was no at all malicious.”


It’s understandable that Tweeden objected come Franken’s having reënacted the gag for a photograph while she to be asleep. Yet when she wrote, “How dare anyone grab mine breasts prefer this and think that funny?,” she omitted the fact that she had performed the “breast exam” little multiple times. Metadata from the camera suggests that, contradictory to Tweeden’s statement, the picture was taken no on Christmas Eve, 2006, together a last taunt, yet on December 21st. Photographs of a phase performance the vault day present Franken proceeding toward Tweeden v splayed hands as she fends the off through a script, laugh in a winter coat and also a Santa Claus hat.


Consenting come an act on stage is not the exact same as consenting come an plot while sleeping. Rebecca Solnit, the writer known, amongst other things, for identifying the phenomenon of mansplaining, told me, “One that the crucial things about consent is it’s not blanket consent. The actor playing Romeo doesn’t obtain to kiss Juliet offstage because it’s in the manuscript that they walk onstage.”

Yet Bonnie Turner, a writer who operated with Franken on “S.N.L.,” said of Tweeden, “It showed negative faith, and also was yes, really wrongheaded the her, no to say the the skit was something they will do rehearsed and also done over and also over, night after ~ night.” Cabrera said me that, when he saw the photograph, the felt certain that Franken had just been “goofing around” at the time.

Tweeden participated in various other ribald U.S.O. Skits. In one routine, she speak the audience that, as a moral booster, she has actually agreed to have sex with a soldier whose surname Franken will certainly pull from a box, explaining, “These are extraordinary circumstances.” The gag is the every name she picks is Franken’s, since he’s stuffed the raffle box. In a 2005 U.S.O. Present with Robin Williams, Tweeden jumped right into his arms, sheathe a leg around his waist, and also spanked his bottom as he suggestively waved a plastic water bottle in front of his fly.

Given Tweeden’s recurring participation in such U.S.O. Skits, Cabrera stated that as soon as he first heard about her allegations “it to be shocking come me.” He provided that all the scripts had been approved by the Army, though he identified that such humor could now be seen as inappropriate. The “never saw any type of animosity” between Franken and Tweeden, and also noted, “No complaints were ever addressed to the Sergeant major of the Army, and also our job was to make sure everyone to be happy.”

Though Tweeden has said the she felt also intimidated to complain to those in charge, she insurance claims that she confided in number of other people on the tour. But she declined to administer any names to me, or to it is in interviewed for this story. 2 friends, who acted together intermediaries, claimed that she observed no acquire in reopening the subject, which had actually exposed she to virulent virtual attacks.

I spoke with eight entrants in the 2006 tour, including Julie Dintleman, the armed forces escort who was assigned come Tweeden; none it was observed Tweeden gift upset through Franken. “I nothing remember anything prefer that,” Dintleman said. Her assignment was to be practically continually in ~ Tweeden’s side, except when the stars saw their soldier for “bed down.” Todd Tabb, a retirement Air force pilot who offered as Franken’s army escort ~ above an earlier U.S.O. Tour, added that, ordinarily, “any occurrence would have been saw by a army officer with the capacity to have actually someone arrested top top the clues if there was an assault. Entertainers to be treated closely so that events did not occur. I was instructed come even enter the rest rooms, so i was never ever out of vision of the celebrity.” despite he no on the 2006 trip, he said, “I can’t imagine how someone wasn’t watching when they rehearsed.”


*
“Well, of course we don’t all freeze up in the spotlight.”
Jerry Amoury, who was then a trombone player in the army band, to be onstage throughout every show with Franken and also Tweeden in 2006, and also performed top top two various other U.S.O. Tours with Franken. Amoury said, that Tweeden, “I’m not mitigating what she said, and also if someone states something the ethical thing is come listen. But, based on my experience, it provides no sense.” as Amoury recalls it, Franken command “no inappropriate energy” toward Tweeden, and also he it was observed no tension between them. He stated that Franken’s “humor can be blunt,” but, he added, “he was not a lecher, and also didn’t have a hike eye.” The picture of Tweeden, that said, certainly “looked sexist the end of context,” but “in context the whole thing was like being grounding on a smelly bus. Those planes room loud, there to be a wrestler on board, and people were taking funny pictures. It to be campy.”

In Tweeden’s telling, Franken “had someone take a photo” specifically to humiliate her. Doug McIntyre, a co-host and confidant of Tweeden’s at the radio station, who helped her prepare she public statement, told me, “She alleged that Franken acquired the army photographer to take the picture, and put it on a disk, so her disk had actually this one extra picture. It to be the caboose. She took it as the last ‘F.U.’ from Franken. The only person who got it was her.” He claimed that Tweeden had particularly objected to this “bullying,” and also that Franken’s pose in the photo was no mere joke. “A comedian walk jokes because that an audience, however this to be an audience that one,” the said.


This is incorrect. Many people on the trip also received CDs that contained the photograph. Andy Barr, the Franken assistant, obtained the CD, i m sorry I have actually seen. The is a pack rat, and also kept the initial packaging. The mailer, postmarked January 9, 2007, is stamped “Official Business.” The return address is “Department that the Army, Office the the cook of public Affairs.” The disk’s label states “U.S.O.” and its plastic instance includes a personal note from and also contact details for Montigo White, an army photographer on the trip, that wrote, “It to be a pleasure to serve through you ~ above the 2006 Tour.” White, currently a command sergeant significant in the Army’s Defense details School, declined requests for comment. His wife, got to at your house, in Alexandria, Virginia, said, “I’m not confirming or denying that he took the picture.”


Franken recalls the occurrence that finished his career together lasting a break-up second. “I psychic stepping ~ above the plane, someone saying, ‘Al, take it a picture,’ and pointing come Leeann.” photos taken within a couple of minutes ~ above the exact same camera roll show Franken doing various other gags: in one, he’s carrying a mock speech; in another, he’s dancing through White, the military photographer. It was near the end of what Franken dubbed “a bawdy tour.” the said, “We were punchy. I was goofing around.” even so, Franken admitted, the photo of Tweeden could be watched as having crossed a line. “What’s wrong with the photo to me is that she’s asleep,” he said. “If you asleep, you’re not giving your consent.” when he observed the picture that November morning, that said, “I genuinely, genuinely feeling bad about that.”

Many human being who operated in comedy v Franken protected his behavior an ext strongly 보다 he walk himself. Jane Curtin, who regards that as among the few non-sexist men she worked with at “S.N.L.,” said, “They were doing a U.S.O. Tour. Lock notoriously burlesque. The picture was funny due to the fact that she’s attract a flak jacket, and also he’s looking straight at the camera and pretending he is trying come fondle her breasts. However the feeling is the can’t obtain to them—if a cartridge can’t gain them, Al can’t get them.” James Downey said, “Much that what Al does once goofing around involves adopting the persona of a douche bag. When I observed the photo, ns knew exactly what he to be doing. The joke was around him. He to be doing ‘an asshole.’ ” Christine Zander, that wrote because that “S.N.L.” between 1987 and also 1993, said, “It was a josh of someone exhilaration in bad taste,” adding, “It’s so absurd she turned something the was written—these were trunk pieces, old sketches—into miscellaneous improvised simply for her.” Zander walk on, “It’s tragic. Every the females who know him indigenous ‘S.N.L.’ and in brand-new York and L.A.”—thirty-six in all—“signed a petition, but it no enough.” She added, “It makes you feeling terrible and depressed, specifically when over there are civilization running the country who need to be charged.”

Franken’s girlfriend Eli Attie, a former speechwriter because that Al Gore who relocated to Hollywood to write for “The West Wing” and other shows, called me, “Things he is done together a comedian look an extremely different v the prism that a senator.” that observed, “The comedy civilization is an extremely different indigenous politics. In writers’ rooms, they shot to be loose. They to speak outrageous, unfiltered things. In politics, you try to censor yourself. You’re constantly fearful you will do it offend. You have to play error-free ball.”

A big part that Franken’s political problem was the way the story broke. KABC-AM released Tweeden’s product on its net site, offering it the watch of a proper news story. In reality, the station, i m sorry is owned by Cumulus Media, to be a struggling conservative talk-radio station whose survival setup was to end up being the many pro-Trump station in Los Angeles. Three peak staffers there had actually been meeting privately for weeks, after hours, v Tweeden come prepare her statement, yet it hadn’t to be vetted with even the most cursory fact-checking. Nobody contacted Franken until after the story had been post online. The station offered Franken less breakthrough warning 보다 it offered the Drudge Report, which that tipped off the previous day. After ~ posting the story, Tweeden carried out a media tour, starting with a live press conference and also proceeding to interviews v CNN’s Jake Tapper (who had been alerted the ahead day), Sean Hannity, and also the cast of “The View.”

Lomonaco, Franken’s former chief that staff, said, “Typically, reporters will reach out to you for comment, so you have a heads-up, and also some chance to placed your best foot forward. But KABC post it an initial and just then reached out to us. It was such critical framing moment. It had the veneer of a legit news story without having to abide by any kind of of the conventions of journalism.”

McIntyre, Tweeden’s previous co-host at the station, said me the he had actually “bluntly” lobbied to provide Franken much more time come respond yet was overruled by attracted Hayes, the gas operations director, and by Nathan Baker, the news director, both of who feared the the story would leak. McIntyre and Baker shown to me the nobody fact-checked Tweeden’s account. They evidently no ask because that the name of the people on the U.S.O. Tourism whom Tweeden stated she had actually confided in at the time; in fact, they made no effort to reach anyone who’d to be on the trip. Lock didn’t inspect the day of the photograph, or look at digital videos showing various other actresses performing the same role on earlier tours. They no realize that although Tweeden asserted she never ever let Franken obtain near her face after the an initial rehearsal, over there were numerous images of she performing the kiss scene v Franken afterward. No one did they testimonial the script or the photographs showing Tweeden laughing onstage as Franken struck the exact same “breast exam” pose.

“The photograph speaks for itself,” McIntyre said me. “That carried the day.” He defined that, “as a neighborhood radio station, us didn’t have the investigative tools at hand” come vet her account. But he had worked carefully with Tweeden for nine months, and had trust in “the verity of she character.” She to be “a reliable employee who had a photograph,” that said, adding, “If we didn’t trust her, she couldn’t have been ours news anchor.”

McIntyre, who defines himself as a never Trump Republican, has since left the station, which, he said, has actually “taken a more pro-Trump position because I left, as a service decision.” Hayes, the to work director, declined to be interviewed. In 2011, under his management, Trump appeared on the wait at the very least once; the terminal also noted an early platform to Steve Bannon. In 2016, follow to a well-informed source, Hayes began chastising on-air talent if they criticize Trump. Hayes’s Twitter account mirrors that in 2016 the family members Christmas tree to be decorated through a crocheted trumped ornament, and also that in 2018 his son had an internship v the Republican nationwide Committee. Baker, who explains himself as politically independent, has because left KABC-AM to job-related as a an elderly strategist at Madison McQueen, a conservative media company; amongst other things, he has actually helped create ads for Senator Ted Cruz. While at KABC-AM, that was additionally a consulting producer with PJ Media, a hyper-partisan conservative-opinion platform. The told me that, together KABC-AM’s news director, he had actually felt obliged to call Franken’s office; in ~ the same time, that “didn’t desire to action on Leeann informing a story the was very daunting for her.”

In interviews, Tweeden has defined her decision to speak out as torturous. She has actually said the she “wanted to say something” earlier, yet people she knew “said, ‘Oh, my God, girlfriend will acquire annihilated and never job-related in this city again,’ and I to be afraid.” At the time of the 2006 U.S.O. Tour, Tweeden to be transitioning indigenous modelling to broadcasting, and she to be an on-air correspondent because that Fox Sports’ “Best damn Sports show Period.” She go on to hold a late-night poker show on NBC.

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During those years, Tweeden shared the damning photograph of Franken v a few good friends, including Hannity. Top top Super bowl Sunday in 2005, Hannity introduced her to his audience as a “right-winger” that was over there to talk about the game. However he quickly asked her just how she, as a conservative, could pose “halfway nude on the covers” that magazines such as Playboy and FHM. “I carry out it with the troops in mind,” she said, and described just how much she appreciated signing such photographs because that soldiers while doing U.S.O. Tours. “I want to it is in this generation’s Raquel Welch,” she said. By the time of the 2006 U.S.O. Trip, Tweeden had started referring to Hannity as a friend.