Three dozen women who worked with Sen. Al Franken on the set of “Saturday Night Live” signed a statement pledging their support for the comedian-turned-politician, who was accused last week of sexual harassment.
The letter was signed by 36 women who worked on the show in some capacity during Franken’s two tenures, from 1977-1980 and 1988-1995. Most were production and crew members, save for cast members Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman.
“We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” the statement read.
“What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public. In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.”
The Minnesota Democrat, 66, was accused of groping and forcibly kissing ABC broadcaster Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO tour.
Tweeden — who shared a photo of the incident as proof — received a private apology from Franken, which she read aloud on “The View.”
Franken claimed to remember their encounter differently than she did, but said he was “ashamed.”
Meanwhile, a second woman, Lindsay Menz, said Franken grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.
Franken said that he did not recall posing for the photo with Menz, but “felt badly” that she felt disrespected by their encounter.
No current cast members signed the statement, but two women, Lorne Michaels’ assistant Cristina McGinniss and script coordinator Claire Shirey are still employed by “Saturday Night Live.”
The statement was met with backlash on Twitter, from those who believed the women signing the statement were enabling his behavior.
“Gonna go out on a limb and say (years) down the road, when we reflect on this raft of assault revelations, your grandkids are gonna be pretty embarrassed to see you signed a f — king letter of support for Al Franken just because he wrote a killer fart sketch for SNL,” journalist Ja’han Jones wrote.
“The letter of support signed by former SNL staffers in support of Al Franken is gross. I don’t care if you know him as a ‘dedicated family man,’ there is literal photographic evidence of him groping an unconscious woman. Your family man’s a f — king creep,” another user wrote.
The long-running NBC sketch show did not shy away from taking shots at one of their own, as “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost joked about the allegations against Franken on Weekend Update.
“Now, I know this photo looks bad, but remember, it also is bad. And sure, this was taken before Franken ran for public office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It’s pretty hard to be, like, ‘Come on, he didn’t know better. He was only 55,” Jost said.