Top Minnesota Newspaper: Franken Apology Falls Short On Sincerity

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., returns to his office after telling reporters he's embarrassed and ashamed amid sexual misconduct allegations but plans to continue his work in Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. The allegations arose after Los Angeles radio personality Leann Tweeden released a photo showing Franken, then a comedian, reaching out as if to grope her while she slept on a military aircraft during a USO tour in 2006,  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Saying it may not be possible to “regain Minnesotans’ trust,” the editorial staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune said Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) apology for the allegations of sexual misconduct that have come out against him in recent weeks doesn’t go far enough.

In an editorial published Monday evening, the newspaper’s editorial board called Franken’s press conference apology Monday afternoon a “necessary move,” but said the senator appears to only be sorry for what the women think he did.

With a Senate ethics investigation looming, Franken remains on politically shaky ground,” they wrote. “It’s debatable whether he is, as he said, ‘holding myself accountable.’ Without saying he didn’t do it, he nevertheless has countered every allegation except the one that carries indisputable proof — the infamous photo of him appearing to grab at (Leeann) Tweeden while she slept. Under such circumstances, Franken’s apology is less a statement of accountability and more akin to ‘I’m sorry for what you think I did.’”

Franken was recently accused by Tweeden, an LA radio host, who said Franken aggressively kissed her and groped her while she was sleeping when the two performed on a USO tour together in 2006. Several other women have come forward since, saying Franken groped their butts while they were taking photos with him. Franken apologized when the Tweeden allegations came out and asked for the Senate Ethics Committee to probe the allegations. He has since apologized on several occasions for making the other women feel disrespected, but claims he doesn’t remember them or taking the photos.

The editorial team said it thinks Franken is trying to “ride out the political storm” by saying he needs to get back to work, but they think the damage may be irreversible.

“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,” they said.

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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