The longer coverage continues of the Al Franken-Leeann Tweeden sex abuse claims, the worse it looks (for Leeann). I was just looking at a tweet which purported to show scores of images of her in scantily-clad, come-hither poses. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could that the same woman dressed in studious-looking glasses interviewed on CNN?
So I Googled her name and found literally thousands of pictures of her stark naked (warning). Apparently, she’s worked at Hooters, done photo shoots for Frederick’s of Hollywood and posed for Playboy as well.
There was one reason alone why she was hired to perform on that USO tour with Franken: skin, hers. She’s essentially a nude model, or at least she was at the time of the USO show. Clearly, now she is a broadcaster. But Franken didn’t misbehave with a radio announcer. He did what he did with a Playboy model. And one who herself was grabbing the asses and grinding against any male she could find on stage.
I want to make something extremely clear: I am not saying that Playboy models can’t be sexually harassed or abused. Clearly, they can and have been. In fact, at least one was murdered by a mentally troubled boyfriend.
What I am saying is that Tweeden was hired for one purpose on that tour and she was fulfilling a role when she appeared in it. Actors and performers are not acting in a stage act the way they would in real life. On stage, they sometimes kiss and do things they’d never do with, or to a stranger. If Leeann Tweeden had a problem with that she shouldn’t have been on the tour. Clearly she didn’t. And if she now wants to say that Al Franken sexually abused her she should start explaining why she was sexually abusing the male performers.
Tweeden’s Los Angeles radio news station admits it promoted this story heavily before it aired. That promotion appears to have involved a number of far-right news outlets and personalities. Prominent among them was Roger Stone who tweeted the story before it aired. Remember that Stone did the same thing after Guccifer alerted him to the fact that Wikileaks was about to dump the Clinton-DNC emails. This too, impeaches the motives of Tweeden and her promoter-handlers.
Tweeden’s work history shows a number of appearances and long-term gigs on FoxNews shows, including Sean Hannity’s. I have heard a rumor that Tweeden has signed a book contract with a right-wing publisher, which would make perfect sense. However, I haven’t heard the rumor confirmed so it’s just that (so far).
Leeann Tweeden is an opportunist and Al Franken is her gravy train. Women who do what she is doing are not just an embarrassment, they betray women who are real victims. They allow men to disrespect and doubt women who are real victims of rape and abuse. Tweeden is a circus and it’s in everyone’s interest to shut this circus down and get to leave town as soon as possible.
Clearly, male elected officials who abuse women may be, and are both Democrats and Republicans. This post doesn’t argue that Democratic male politicians are pure as driven snow. I’m certain there are a few Democrats in Congress who are abusers (here’s one for sure). But I am saying that if we make this into a partisan smear campaign in which every Republican sleaze has to be matched with a Democratic sleaze (clearly Stone’s intent) we’ll be dishonoring the seriousness of the issue of sex abuse.
I have read the new charge against Franken that he grabbed a female constituent’s ass during a picture-taking session. If true, yes it’s ugly. And he should know better.
But so far we haven’t taken George H.W. Bush out behind a barn to shoot him for the same offense. Nor has Jenny Listman’s charge that Elie Wiesel grabbed her ass during a photo session when she was a teenager, driven him from the pedestal he’s occupied for American Jews for decades. So Franken should do some serious soul-searching and make it up to American women by future his actions in the U.S. Senate, where he (still) belongs.
That Al Franken asked to be investigated speaks volumes.
We are finding out who these people REALLY are when the hammer is cocked….
Richard is going to have to ‘perv wash’ with a stronger detergent.
[comment deleted: Snark does not constitute a legitimate comment. You’re already moderated. That means you’re liable to being totally banned on further comment rule violations.]
Richard Silverstein says
@ Zionauts: Remember this comment rule: DO NOT PUBLISH A COMMENT BEFORE READING THE ENTIRE POST INCLUDING LINKS. I included this incident in the post itself. So you were duplicating what I’d already done & acknowledged. Don’t waste your time, my time & everyone else’s time.
Ed Felien says
Here’s a piece I am working on for Southside Pride:
By Ed Felien
First, let’s look at the facts.
Leanne Tweeden wrote about Al Franken: “You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it.”
Tweeden agreed to rehearse a skit with Franken in which he kisses her. This was a skit and a kiss they performed throughout their 2006 USO tour. She says he put his tongue in her mouth and she felt violated. Al says he doesn’t remember the kiss that way. In either case, she gave her consent to rehearse the kiss as part of the skit, so, it’s not true that he kissed her without her consent.
In the photo Franken is shown approaching a sleeping Tweeden with his hands about to touch her parachute or flak jacket. It is not clear from the photo whether he actually touches the flat surface of the parachute or flak jacket, but he is certainly not grabbing her breasts. He was probably making an obvious sophomoric joke about reaching to touch her breasts and finding a flak jacket protecting her.
Yes, of course, it is a stupid sexist joke. It objectifies the victim by making it seem her only worth is as a sexual object.
Al Franken was acting like a crude burlesque comic.
But that’s what a USO Tour is like.
Bob Hope, a former burlesque and vaudeville comic, was the face of the USO for fifty years. He always toured with a dozen “American Beauties,” whom he would introduce and interview. His job was to entertain the troops who were then all male and very eager to see a woman:
“Last Christmas in Alaska, I met a GI who was so lonely he was going steady with his tattoo. And his buddies kept asking him if she’s got a sister!”
“This ship stays at sea a long time. They only go back to port when the chaplain asks to see a chaplain…. To give you an idea how long these guys have been at sea, they just made Phyllis Diller their pinup girl.”
The 2006 USO Tour didn’t have “American Beauties,” it had the Dallas Cheerleaders, Al Franken as the comic headliner and Leanne Tweeden—the Playboy cover girl in August, 1996 and Hooters Calendar pin up in 1993 and 1994. She was invited on the Tour primarily because of her nationally acclaimed secondary sexual characteristic—her breasts.
Men get turned on looking at breasts. Breasts remind them of sexual differences and sex, and that reminds them of the thrill of endorphins released into the consciousness at the moment of orgasm. The body acts in predictable ways to ensure preservation of the species.
The USO shows are crudely sexual, and they reinforce dangerous stereotypes about men and women. The model for the men is a crude comic who finds sexual meaning in everything a female says, and the women are “American Beauties,” Dallas Cheerleaders, Hooters waitresses or Playboy Bunnies. Those were the crude outlines of sexual identity portrayed on the 2006 USO Tour.
It probably hasn’t changed much since then.
And that’s a seriously wasted opportunity.
A warrior in the past meant having a license to kill, plunder and rape. There were no laws. Your weapon was the law: Kill all men! Rape all the women!
That’s what conquest meant.
Unfortunately, that’s what it still means to many men in the military. The Department of Defense says there were more than 19,000 assaults against women by men in the military in 2010.
The attack on Al Franken has already weakened progressive resistance to Trump and the reactionary Republican Congress. Senator Chuck Grassley has decided to move forward with the nomination of David Stras to the 8th District Court of Appeals. Franken originally objected to the nomination: “Justice Stras’s professional background and record strongly suggest that, if confirmed, he would embrace the legacy of his role models and reliably rule in favor of powerful corporate interests over working people, and that he would place a high bar before plaintiffs seeking justice at work, at school, and at the ballot box.”
Normally, if a Senator objects to a judicial appointment from their home state, the Committee Chair will not hold a hearing on the appointment. Grassley has decided to hold a hearing on Stras, and go against precedent and tradition in this appointment (possibly) because Franken is in too weakened a condition to object.
That will be a serious loss for all of us.
Women senators (Gillebrand, Baldwin and McCaskill) have said they will give Al Franken’s contributions to their campaigns to charity.
That’s a loss for them and, if they lose their elections, a loss for all of us.
Franken is one of a small handful of progressive voices in the Senate. He has been a champion for women and minorities.
His silence is a tremendous loss.
Yes, the kiss may have been more intense than expected, and, yes, the photo stunt was adolescent, but neither act rises to the level of sexual predation. He was looking for a laugh, not a sexual thrill. He wasn’t using his position to force Leanne Tweeden to have sex with him. He was crude, but he wasn’t creepy.
The intended consequence of this campaign against Franken is to weaken opposition to Roy Moore’s campaign for the U S Senate in Alabama. Moore is a publicly acknowledged pedophile. He has been accused by a victim of forcing sexual relations on her when she was 14. He chased after high school girls in the local mall when he was in his thirties. But many Alabama Christian Evangelicals don’t care about that. He’s not a Democrat. They can count on him to be pro-life, to vote against abortion. He won’t support a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. He supports the white patriarchy.
Conservatives are much more tolerant. It doesn’t matter to them that Trump was going to “grab ‘em by the pussy,” or that Moore is a pedophile. What matters is that Trump and Moore will reaffirm white male supremacy.
Liberals demand spotless heroes.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ed: I’ve approved your comment even though it doessn’t conform with my comment rules. So many people have so many pieces they’ve written or intend to write. If half those people posted half those pieces here the threads would be nothing but long monographs. So I’m cool with hearing your main argument in a paragraph or two. I’m delighted for you to link to a longer version as well. But try to keep it short & succinct.
As for the substance of what you wrote: I couldn’t agree more.
Conservative are much more tolerant, that is, of their own; not otherwise. I so appreciate bringing up the USO tours, a tradition designed to excite the male hormones at the expense of women- women who offer themselves up for that sort of thing. This is a wider cultural issue that should not get lost. What shame that craven Democrats are running away from Franken like rats on a sinking ship rather than focussing on the distinctions that have to be made during this explosion of truth-telling and partisan opportunistic manipulations.
Tony Prost says
He was not trying to have sex with her, he was mugging for the camera. Big difference.
Thank you Richard for the research. When Trump is held accountable we can look at Franken, a person with redeeming qualities, a decent person with intelligence Trump can’t match. We need such people in the Congress. Regarding the state fair accusation it seems very dubious,fishy. It’s open season. The nyt article on this second accusation today had some great comments in the reader’s choice section.
Colin Wright says
Shades of that judge in Ohio. It’s nice to see Silverstein is among those who have the courage to come out against this nonsense.
Me too is only hurting Democrats, because Republicans and their electorate have no standards.
linda M purdy says
Leeann seems to be courting attention with little self respect. Why is she suddenly the righteous victim, when, her photographic legacy shows her in such teasing, blatantly seductive poses?