Three dozen women who worked with Sen. Al Franken during his tenure on Saturday Night Live have defended him after he was accused of sexual misconduct.
“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),” the former staffers said in a statement on Tuesday, November 21, via NBC News. “What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. [Leeann] Tweeden, and to the public.”
“In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer and an honorable public servant,” the 36 women continued. “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. We send our support and gratitude to Al and his family this Thanksgiving and holiday season.”
Franken, 66, worked on SNL as a writer and performer from 1975 to 1980 and again from 1985 to 1995.
The staffers’ statement received some backlash on social media. “Just because he didn’t harass *you* doesn’t mean he’s a ‘good guy,'” one Twitter user wrote. Another critic tweeted, “Jeez. 36 FORMER staffers of SNL signing their letter in support of Franken ‘SNL Women’ is pretty ghastly to the women currently working there who’ll have to deal with it.”
Last week, Tweeden, a Los Angeles-based broadcaster, accused the Minnesota senator of forcibly kissing and groping her during an overseas tour to entertain U.S. troops in 2006. She also released a photo of him appearing to grab her breasts while she was sleeping.
Franken issued an apology shortly after Tweeden came forward. “I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,” he said in a statement. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”
A second woman, Lindsay Menz, later claimed to CNN that the comedian grabbed her butt while posing for a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. In response, he released a statement saying he did not remember taking the picture and that he felt “badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
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