PBS Special Honoring Letterman Cuts Franken’s Appearance

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Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) tribute to David Letterman will be cut from Monday night’s PBS special honoring the longtime comedian, according to a PBS spokesperson, who said including Franken would be a distraction in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against the senator.

“PBS and WETA, the producing station, felt that the inclusion of Senator Franken in the broadcast at this time would distract from the show’s purpose as a celebration of American humor,” a PBS spokesperson told Variety in a statement Monday. “Every year, this program is edited for both length and content to keep it entertaining and focused on its intended purpose as a celebration of American humor.”

The PBS special was recorded in October and will feature a variety of A-list comedians, like Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Murray, Amy Schumer and Martin Short. The show will be broadcast Monday night at 8 p.m EST, without Franken, who was a comedian before he became a senator.

Two women have come forward with different allegations of sexual misconduct by Franken. Last week, LA radio host Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of “aggressively” kissing her and groping her while she was sleeping back in 2006 when the two were performing in a USO tour together. She published a photo with her account of the accusations, which appears to show Franken grabbing toward her chest. Franken apologized in two separate statements and asked for the Senate Ethics Committee to probe the incident.

A second woman came forward on Monday, telling CNN that Franken allegedly grabbed her rear while the two posed for a photo together at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. In a statement, Franken — who has been outspoken about combatting violence and harassment against women as a senator — said he was sorry the woman, Lindsay Menz, felt “disrespected” by their encounter, but said he didn’t remember taking the photo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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