Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) recently issued a statement about how he feels “terribly that [he] made some women feel badly,” but his comments from 1995 put those comments in a new light.
After the allegations were revealed, Franken apologized and promised to work hard to regain his state's trust:
Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that. I've thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations.
I feel terribly that I've made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again.
Franken's comedic past was discussed when he first ran for Senate. While raunchy jokes are not unheard of for a comic, what is troubling is how Franken joked about some situations that partly mirror what he's been accused of doing.
A New York Magazine feature from 1995 noted that he discussed a bit he was working on about drugging and raping a current news anchor at the time, Lesley Stahl:
“'I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley is passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.' Or 'That's why you never see Lesley until February.' Or, 'When she passes out. I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.'”
Taking pictures of a woman passed out is exactly what Franken did to Leeann Tweeden.
In his book that came out this year, “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate,” he writes that he believes apologies he made for those comments about Stahl were unnecessary. He reflects:
To say I was sorry for writing a joke was to sell out my career, to sell out who I'd been my entire life. And I wasn't sorry that I had written Porn-o-Rama or pitched that stupid Lesley Stahl joke at 2 in the morning. I was just doing my job.
He also lets the reader know that he learned how to work in the political realm from that experience:
I learned that campaigns have their own rules, their own laws of physics, and that if I wasn't willing to accept that, I would never get to be a senator. I'm sorry.