Earlier in the week RPT reported oh how US Senator Al Franken wants Google, Facebook and Twitter to censor political speech.
–in an opinion piece for the Guardian, U.S. Senator Al Franken proposed that it is time for the U.S. government to step in because Google, Facebook and Twitter have failed to prevent the spread of propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech…
As lawmakers grapple with the revelations regarding Russia’s manipulation of social media during the 2016 election, many are shocked to learn the outsized role that the major tech companies play in so many aspects of our lives. Not only do they guide what we see, read, and buy on a regular basis, but their dominance – specifically in the market of information – now requires that we consider their role in the integrity of our democracy.
Last week’s hearings demonstrated that these companies may not be up to the challenge that they’ve created for themselves. In some instances, it seems that they’ve failed to take commonsense precautions to prevent the spread of propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech.
Those are very ominous words.
What a difference a few days makes.
Yesterday RPT reported that California radio host and former model, Leeann Tweeden, claimed that Democratic Sen. Al Franken groped her while she slept on a military transport plane (pictured below) and forcibly kissed her backstage during a 2006 USO goodwill tour.
Leeann Tweeden, a California TV host and sports radio broadcaster, just accused Democratic Senator Al Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006.
Leeann posted a blog detailing the alleged incident and also tweeted a picture of what seems to be a creepy Franken standing over her as she sleeps, grabbing her breasts.
Tweeden said the abuse took place during a USO Tour in Afghanistan.
Franken, a former writer for “Saturday Night Live,” wrote a sketch for the tour in which his character kisses hers on stage.
Tweeden said Franken repeatedly pressured her to practice the kiss backstage and at one point forcibly kissed her.
“I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time,” she wrote. “I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.”
Tweeden said she felt “disgusted and violated” – and that the abuse didn’t stop there.
A photographer, who was with them on their C-17 cargo plane ride back home, snapped a picture of what looks to be a sleeping Tweeden, still wearing her flak vest and Kevlar helmet, and a grinning Franken appearing to grab her breasts.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she wrote. “He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep. I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”
Tweeden said she thinks Franken asked someone to take the photo “knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed.”
According to The Daily Mail, Tweeden is now hinting that her own accusations might be only the first: ‘I’ve gotten a phone call from a woman that has – I’ve only gotten a message – that says something similar has happened to her. And I haven’t returned it yet. So that’s to be determined’
Accusations from the radio host, who was a 23-year-old model at the time of her allegations, could send Franken into the same reputational basket with Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, movie producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K. and actor Kevin Spacey.
‘The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women,’ Franken wrote in a statement hours after Tweeden went public.
‘There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing – and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine – is: I’m sorry.’
‘I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,’ the accused government groper added. ‘And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.’
He specifically addressed the photo, shot as the USO performance troupe headed home the day before Christmas in 2006.
‘For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture,’ Franken added.
‘And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it – women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.’
Tweeden said Thursday that Franken approached her at a USO event just a few years ago and tried to make small talk, without any offer of an ‘I’m sorry.’
‘He had a chance to apologize to me then, because he knew exactly what he did to me then, and that picture was out there,’ she said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a swift statement of his own, calling for a congressional investigation into Tweeden’s claims.
‘As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,’ McConnell said. ‘I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this.’
‘Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable – in the workplace or anywhere else,’ McConnell added.
Franken said an hour later at the U.S. Capitol that he agrees.
‘I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate,’ Franken said.