In the Franken Scandal, Be Careful What You Wish For

The outing of U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) as the latest high profile alleged abuser of women – accompanied by photographic evidence – calls for a cautious analysis. Not because there is any doubt about the veracity of the accusations by Franken’s main accuser, Leeann Tweeden. After all, Ms. Tweeden has come forward with an incriminating photo and a detailed recounting of Franken’s sexual harassment and humiliation of her in 2006, two years before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. As of this writing, Franken has issued three increasingly detailed written apologies for what he did to Ms. Tweeden which adds significant credibility to her claims.

The incriminating photo: Al Franken and Leeann Tweeden December 2006

What needs to be examined closely and critically is how the mainstream media and the powers that be – including elements of the Resistance, the Shadow Government, and the Deep State – are preparing to use this story to advance their ultimate agenda: The take down and removal from office of President Donald J. Trump.

It was surprising to see the media, and even many Democrat politicians, jump on the Franken story as soon as it broke on Thursday November 16. It was full-speed ahead to attack Franken and even to call for his resignation from the Senate. The Teflon coating that almost always protects Democrats and, until recently, most left-wing moguls and celebrities when they get in trouble, especially of a sexual harassment nature, was stripped away – and the feeding frenzy piling on of Franken was off and running.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not sorry to see Al Franken exposed for being the creep that he is. His entire career as a writer, comedian, and performer before he got into politics in 2007 absolutely reeks. Examples of his sleazy and disgusting work that have helped to lower the bar of the popular culture starting in 1975 are abundant. Until Thursday, Franken, to my knowledge, was never publicly accused of actually acting against anyone based on his immature, puerile, and sexist beliefs.

Jake Tapper interviews Leeann Tweeden CNN Nov. 16, 2017

An example of the unusual media focus on this story is the coverage of it on CNN on day one. On Thursday evening, CNN preempted the second hour of Anderson Cooper’s AC360 at 9 P.M. E.S.T. and substituted a “special edition” hour long episode of The Lead with Jake Tapper that usually airs five hours earlier.

Tapper’s special prime time show started with an uninterrupted, commercial-free replay of his entire interview with Leeann Tweeden that originally ran live on his afternoon show earlier Thursday. The fact that no commercials were shown for over 35 minutes straight was almost unprecedented. That kind of rare preemption of advertising spots is usually reserved for instances of major breaking news, like a terrorist attack or a hurricane about to make landfall on the U.S.

Amanda Carpenter

Symone Sanders

The prerecorded segment with Tweeden, with a new live intro by Tapper was followed by a live discussion featuring familiar CNN talking heads Amanda Carpenter, former communications director for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Symone Sanders, former press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and a CNN political commentator. Both of these analysts are consistently anti-Trump.

From CNN’s transcript of the program:

JAKE TAPPER: And this – this is not a partisan issue.


TAPPER: Democrats are doing this to women. Republicans are doing this to women.

SYMONE SANDERS: Independents have probably done it as well, Green Party folks, people that – don’t even believe in a political system.

This is about the overall culture and system. We have – it has far exceeded a problem. (INAUDIBLE) had a really great piece in (INAUDIBLE) a couple weeks ago specifically about sexual culture, and talking about the fact that this is from the Hollywood Hills, to the boardroom, and everywhere in between. And so this is a system and we have to examine what it is about our culture or sexual culture that seems to support this. We talk a lot about rape culture, but rape should not have been the bar that is met for us to have a conversation about this, for us to do something. Because it’s not just rape, it’s those sexual microaggressions, the cat calling on the street, it’s the someone “pushing up” on you in an office in a professional setting.

None of these things are OK, but we are only now liberated to have these conversations because women have been courageous in coming forward, so now – because this is bigger than Al Franken. . .

CARPENTER: They [U.S. Senate] can vote to censure him [Franken] in a simple majority vote and take a stand on this issue. And for that matter, Donald Trump or anyone else they see fit.

SANDERS: Yes. I mean, I guess it’s just – it just troubles me because Donald – it seems like everyone else in this moment has had to account for what they’ve done and what they’ve been accused of except for the president of the United States [emphasis added.]. . .

CARPENTER: – I remember America –

SANDERS: We are America.

CARPENTER: [In 2016] I was encouraging the delegates to vote for someone else other than Donald Trump. I stood on a panel with Van Jones. He said you cannot abort your candidate at this point in time. I said it is the right thing to do and look what happened, Donald Trump became president. . .

SANDERS: Yes. Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the accusers of Donald Trump liars. And so, people that live in glass houses have a tendency not to want to try to throw stones. And that’s what we’re seeing here.

So, the president, his hands are essentially tied. If he thinks Roy Moore should step down, I’m wondering if he then is going to turn in his resignation as president of the United States of America. [emphasis added.]

TAPPER: Well, I am hearing a lot of people today saying Al Franken needs to step down, but they’re not saying the same thing about President Trump. I mean –

SANDERS: We have to address this across the board, OK? So if we are going to really attack this issue, if we really want to change the system, we have to have a certain set of standards by which we engage in this work of combating sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual microaggression. So, we can’t have one standard for somebody and another standard for someone else.

Accusations of sexual harassment and worse that were leveled against candidate Donald Trump in the closing days of the 2016 campaign, which were never heard in a court of law and largely disappeared as soon as he was elected, clearly did not impede his path to victory in the November election. During the past year, however, the perception of him as a sexual aggressor has permeated virally especially through social media. It continues to motivate the anti-Trumpers and is now gaining new currency. The scorched earth campaign that assumes men accused of sexual misconduct are automatically guilty is expanding – apparently by design now – to include Democrats, giving it a patina of bipartisan credibility. This strategy is already being used as a tactic in the effort to destroy President Trump.

Thomas Lifson had a summary of his similar concerns about the Franken story and what it might lead to, in the November 17 American Thinker, “Al Franken’s career is collateral damage for the Dems on the way to getting Trump:”

That sinking feeling Al Franken is experiencing is the realization that his career is now a pawn in the fanatical efforts of Democrats to get President Trump out of office. . . The logical steps for getting Trump are clear.

Step one: Establish that sexual harassment before taking office is sufficient grounds to remove someone from office. This is the necessary predicate. Franken’s departure from office will establish the purported sincerity of the Democrats in establishing this brand-new principle. . .

Step two: Apply this doctrine to Roy Moore if he should win the Senate seat for which he is running. If he loses, triumphantly announce that even the reddest of red states agrees that previous misbehavior is dispositive in removing an incumbent.

Step three: Throw Bill Clinton under the bus. . . .

Step four: As the hysteria mounts, following the blood sacrifices, demand that President Trump be impeached for actions before he took office. Failing that, tell voters that by hanging onto office, he is disgracing the nation and telling little boys to grope their little girl classmates in first grade.

Lifson was prescient in his predictions, including his step three. On Thursday evening November 16, Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat U.S. Senator from New York and a potential candidate for president in 2020, in an interview with the New York Times in effect threw Bill Clinton under the bus. The Washington Post reported Friday morning, “Why Kirsten Gillibrand saying that Bill Clinton should’ve resigned is a big deal:”

Asked directly if she believed Mr. Clinton should have stepped down [when as president he faced his own allegations of sexual impropriety], Ms. Gillibrand took a long pause and said, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”

On Friday evening, the most read article at the Washington Post was “What Trump has said about assault allegations against Franken, Moore, Clinton — and himself.” The #2 article was the one on Gillibrand.

On Hannity, Fox News Channel Friday evening, with Jeanine Pirro substituting for Sean Hannity, Democrat strategist Doug Schoen, echoing the opinions of many in his party, insisted that Franken should resign. Another guest, Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce, a libertarian conservative and former feminist, commented:

What this [the Democrat Party’s reaction to the Franken scandal] is really about is the fact that the Democrats – they’re this dangerous now. They don’t care that they facilitated this [serial sexual misconduct by Bill Clinton] in the ‘90s. All they want to do now is to try to remake history so that they can pretend to be our moral betters – our moral superiors – again so that they can lecture us on the Republicans who are doing it. They do not care about the issue, they do not care about women. The bottom line here is that this is a complete meltdown – and it’s not just Gillibrand. It’s pretty much every [Democrat] throwing Clinton under the bus. . . The Democrats have been treating women like crap for decades and this is a reckoning. 

Over at CNN, April Ryan, a CNN political analyst, speaking on Don Lemon’s show, commented that President Trump’s alleged past sexual misconduct before he became president “is an albatross around the president’s neck.” In my opinion, Ryan speaks for many representatives of the MSM and the Deep State in terms of where this all goes from here. Target: Donald J. Trump.

My recommendation: Pay very close attention as this story unfolds. Be prepared to read between the lines and keep Lifson’s, and my, analysis and admonitions in mind.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka.

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