Amidst the daily exposures of possible sexual abusers and harassers in Hollywood and Washington, D.C., a reporter dropped a bombshell on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) Thursday morning. Leeann Tweeden of KABC accused the Democratic U.S. senator of forcibly kissing her during a USO tour skit practice in 2006 then, later, groping her breasts while she slept on the plane home.
Franken responded on Thursday to say he doesn’t remember passionately kissing her before she shoved him away, but he said the photo of him grinning while putting his hands on her breasts as she slept was real. He deeply apologized for it and volunteered himself to be the subject of an ethics investigation.
Tweeden held a press conference Thursday afternoon and gave more details on the incidents. She said she accepted Franken’s apology and would leave it up to others to call for his resignation.
Tweeden added that she was advised to stay silent about the incidents at the time lest she destroy her budding news reporting career, but now that other women are speaking out about past abuses, she has felt empowered to do the same.
Now conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan has dropped her own accusation of stalking and harassment on Franken’s head. She posted a statement on Media Equalizer, a site she helped create.
Morgan explained that she appeared on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” ABC show with Al Franken in 2000. Franken was a writer for the show at the time.
During the broadcast, Morgan got into a spat with Franken over some budget numbers. Morgan didn’t think much about the disagreement but said Franken was “obsessed over it.”
“He approached me backstage, angrily called me out on those numbers and insisted he would prove he was right. He wouldn’t leave me alone; he kept following me. As a woman, his presence and proximity to me felt very threatening and intimidating,” Morgan recounted. “I didn’t realize his creepy behavior after the show meant it would continue in the days to come.
She continued, “He approached Carol, the show’s producer and demanded my home phone number, which was a clear violation of network protocol. I had thought that was the end of the story and was shocked when he started calling my home, badgering me repeatedly.”
“I became fearful and called Carol to complain and asked her to tell him to back off. But he made another call after that. I thought that he might end up stalking me at my home in Northern California — it was that bad,” Morgan added. “By the third phone call I was outraged and terrified, as he is really disturbed.”
It got so bad Morgan told Franken she’d call the police if he didn’t leave her alone. On Thursday, she said she’d be willing to speak at Franken’s ethics investigation to let everyone know what kind of person he is.
“I never forgot that experience and it informed me of his lack of character and obsessive personality. I believe every word Leann [sic] wrote,” Morgan concluded.
What do you think about this? Here’s more about what Tweeden said during her press conference.