After a news anchor accused Democratic Sen. Al Franken of sexual assault Thursday, the media used their best tactics to minimize the allegations.
Members of the media gave credit to Franken for apologizing for the behavior — which seems to be the bare minimum response we could expect since there is photo evidence of his indiscretions — and pivoted the conversation to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Others suggested people denouncing Sen. Franken might be motivated by politics.
The following things are accurate: 1. Franken has apologized for groping Leeann Tweeden and Roy Moore has not apologized for any of the allegations against him, and 2. Moore has been accused of far worse things than Franken.
However, bringing up Moore in the context of Franken appears to be a deliberate bait and switch by the media. The intention is to minimize and excuse the allegations against Franken because he’s allegedly “less bad” than Moore.
MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt wouldn’t even admit that the photo is evidence of Franken groping Tweeden, instead calling it “mock groping” and “potentially, not actually groping.”
Carl Huse of The New York Times suggested that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is motivated by politics in his call for the Ethics Committee to look into Franken’s behavior, stating, “he wants everyone to feel the pain here.”
“[Franken’s] not popular among Republican members of the Senate,” Huse said on CNN.
“The nature of the allegations is certainly different…so I think they’re different but politically you can see how this all becomes one thing now,” Margaret Talev, senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg, also stated on CNN.
The Daily Beast columnist Cliff Schecter wrote, “Franken owns up to disgusting behavior & calls for self to be investigated. Moore claims fraudlent-HS-yearbook-signaure conspiracy.”
Yup, this is difference. Franken owns up to disgusting behavior & calls for self to be investigated. Moore claims fraudulent-HS-yearbook-signature conspiracy & that like 211 women are all lying. https://t.co/WeuJTHdaIh
— Cliff Schecter (@cliffschecter) November 16, 2017
Journalist David Rothkopf similarly praised Franken for his apology, and reduced his sexual assault to “some bad things.”
He did some bad things for which he must be held accountable. But this new Franken statement is much better and a far cry from the weasel words of many others in his position: Al Franken apologizes for allegedly groping woman https://t.co/mZSUVMS9pp via @politico
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) November 16, 2017
Scott Dworkin, an MSNBC contributor, didn’t even take that long to switch the conversation to Roy Moore, who is accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. Dworkin suggested that it might be common tactic to use the Franken case to “excuse” Moore, even though few, if any, politicians have done so.
Whatever Al Franken did doesn’t excuse Roy Moore from the fact he’s got 5 victims & counting in regards to the molestation of a child, attempted rape & sexual assault. #NoMoore
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 16, 2017
The king of all takes came from The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr, whose first reaction to the allegations was not to denounce Franken’s behavior, but to whine that “conservative media” would “love” the story.
Conservative media is going to love this Al Franken thing…
— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) November 16, 2017
And MSNBC’s Joy Reid called Franken’s apology a “welcome response.”
This is, I have to say, a welcome and very different response to these kinds of allegations. Men rethinking what they have for so long presumed they could get away with is a start. https://t.co/obiCgB28bb
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 16, 2017