Al Franken (AP/Alex Brandon)

Minnesota newspaper: Al Franken's apology "falls lamentably short in several respects"

Hoping that things just blow over, Franken is saying, "I'm sorry for what you think I did," the editorial argues


Charlie May
November 28, 2017 4:27PM (UTC)

The largest newspaper in Minnesota believes the apologies given by their state's Democratic Senator Al Franken falls short and raises more questions than answers.

The Star Tribune's editorial board on Monday wrote that, in his apologies, Franken seems to merely be saying, "I'm sorry for what you think I did."

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Franken "broke his self-imposed silence over the weekend, submitting to a series of media interviews on the sexual misconduct allegations against him, professing his shame and embarrassment. That was a necessary move — Minnesotans and the country at large deserved to hear from him," the Star Tribune wrote. "But his apology falls lamentably short in several respects."

The Star Tribune pointed out that during one interview, Franken expressed the importance of listening to women, "but then refuted the story of Leeann Tweeden, the USO entertainer who accused him of shoving his tongue down her throat during a rehearsed 'kiss.'"

The editorial continued, "He recalls 'a normal rehearsal,' but didn't elaborate. On the subsequent allegations of women who say he groped them during photos — specifically, that he grabbed their buttocks — Franken apologized, but for what, exactly?"

The editorial also pointed out that Franken said that he "would never intentionally" make an attempt to squeeze or grope a woman.

"Is he suggesting these women could not distinguish between a friendly embrace and groping? Or that at his age he somehow groped unintentionally? Can one credibly apologize for acts without acknowledging they occurred?" the Star Tribune wrote. "Franken may just be trying to ride out the storm, as is the case too often these days."

As many as 16 women have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment or misconduct. And Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, despite allegations he molested teenage girls years ago, is not only still running in the December special election — he's still projected to win.

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The board wrote, "Moore's conduct is in a different league from what Franken is accused of, but none of it is acceptable."

But the Star Tribune also argued that Franken has already done significant damage to the party in the midst of a tense urgency from Republicans to bolster and pass legislation that supports Trump's agenda.

"While he was busy reflecting, his voice was absent from important issues — a damaging Senate tax bill that may be hurtling toward a floor vote this week; an effort to undo net neutrality — of which he has been the most prominent critic; a dismantling of the State Department, and on and on," the editorial board wrote.

His effectiveness, the board argued, will suffer as well "by persistent questions about the allegations, the ethics investigation and the lingering possibility that other women may come forward — something Franken does not dismiss."

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To conclude, the Star Tribune wrote: "Franken is right — he has much to do to regain Minnesotans' trust. It may not be possible. As he continues his reflection, we urge the senator to consider what is best for Minnesota and to weigh that more heavily than what might be best for his political career."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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