Before he became a Democratic Senator, Al Franken was a Saturday Night Live writer and performer, winning several awards for his work behind the scenes. And with news anchor Leeann Tweeden accusing Franken of kissing her and groping her during a USO tour that took place almost 11 years ago, reports are now bringing up a planned SNL skit of his that had some parallels to what allegedly happened to Tweeden in December, 2006.
In 2009, the Washington City Paper published a list of “rape jokes that politicians wish they had never said,” starting with one that was supposedly made by Al Franken during a Saturday Night Live sketch writing session in 1995. The incident was supposedly witnessed by New York magazine reporters who had sat in during the session, which featured Franken and his fellow writers discussing a sketch where 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl would have been drugged and sexually assaulted.
The above report included a quote from an Associated Press story that detailed what went down during the sketch writing session.
“Franken and fellow writers Norm MacDonald and Jim Downey kick around fictional Rooney responses to the discovery of the bottle…. The article quotes Franken putting an edgy twist on the discussion: ‘I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley’s 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.'”
In the aftermath of Leeann Tweeden’s accusations against Al Franken, details of the planned Saturday Night Live skit were dredged up once again by various news publications, including Fox News. It was the aforementioned New York magazine report, as well as a 2000 article for Playboy called “Porn-o-Rama,” where Franken wrote about receiving oral sex from a machine in his fantasies, that were used against him by Republicans during the 2008 senatorial elections in Minnesota. He eventually apologized for the content of the potential SNL sketch and his Playboy article, but his book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, saw him explaining that he wasn’t really sorry after all, and that he had faked the apology for the benefit of his Senate campaign.
“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,” wrote Franken, as quoted in a New York Times book review.
“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.”
With female voters withdrawing their support for Al Franken over his Saturday Night Live skit idea and the Playboy article, the comedy writer-turned-politician explained in his book that he realized he had to play nice with voters if he wanted to win a post in the U.S. Senate, hence his decision to make a fake apology. He ended up winning the 2008 Minnesota senatorial elections, defeating Republican candidate Norm Coleman by a narrow margin.
As noted by Fox News, Al Franken issued two written apologies on Thursday, both in reaction to Leeann Tweeden’s accusations of sexual misconduct. He has yet to comment on the 22-year-old Saturday Night Live sketch meeting story and how it was revisited in the aftermath of the new allegations.
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