Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken has apologized several times since a 2006 photo surfaced showing him groping a sleeping woman, but Franken walked back a 2008 apology for rape jokes in his latest book.
During Franken’s 2008 campaign to unseat Senate Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, stories about the comedian’s blue humor came out, including a 2000 column he wrote in Playboy entitled “Porn-o-Rama” and a rape joke he made about 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl in 1995.
“The things I said and wrote sent a message to some of my friends in this room, and the people in this state, that they can’t count on me to be a champion for women and for all people of Minnesota in this campaign and in the Senate. I’m sorry for that,” he said at a Democratic-Farmer-Labor state convention while on the 2008 campaign trail.
However, in his new book “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate,” the Minnesota Democrat admitted the apology meant nothing.
The New York Times Book Review wrote of the book:
“Al Franken, Giant of the Senate” is, in part, the story of how Franken became a giant phony — how he pretended to be a serious person in public even as his inner comic monologue never stopped running. He recalls that during the 2008 campaign, he was attacked for such transgressions as a late-night writers’-room joke about raping Lesley Stahl, and a 2000 Playboy article entitled “Porn-o-Rama.” Franken didn’t think he should have to apologize for the cracks, which his opponents were taking out of context. “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,” he writes. “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.”
Franken is currently embroiled in sexual misconduct allegations after a 2006 photo was publicized showing him grasping at KABC anchor’s Leeann Tweeden’s breasts while both were on a USO tour. Tweeden also revealed that Franken had her in his performance that included her kissing him, which he wanted her to rehearse with him as well.
Franken initially told reporters, “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
Franken later released this statement: “The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.
The Minnesota Democrat also sent a handwritten apology note to Tweeden herself, The New York Post reported. Tweeden said she accepted his apology and is not attempting to kick him out of the upper chamber or ruin his career.
“I just wanted to shine the light and stand on the shoulders of these other women to go, ‘This is not right, this is not what should be happening in our society,’” she said.
Democrats have distanced themselves from Franken since Tweeden revealed the incident. The Senate Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into the Minnesota senator.