Scenes from the patriarchal playbook

A dust-up from Republican operatives on Twitter yesterday was a perfect example of the ingrained cultural patriarchy. Three media outlets were allowed to interview Sen. Al Franken yesterday in separate interviews and all three reporters were women.

This did not sit well with Brian McClung, a former Gov. Tim Pawlenty flack, who knows how to spin with the best of them, and claimed confusion about why political beat reporters didn’t get the task — in this case: Pat Kessler at WCCO and Brian Bakst at MPR.

“Handpicked” is a loaded term that implies Franken chose reporters who would go soft on him, a serious allegation despite McClung’s denial of intent. There was an easy way to get an answer to the question of how the interviews came to be: Pick up the phone and ask.

McClung chose to light a social media fuse instead.

McClung, whose rhetorical questions were amplified by Michael Brodkorb, was wrong, as WCCO and MPR pointed out.

Against the backdrop of a news story about sexual misconduct, the innuendo was clear: the women were a lesser choice for an important interview.

This, of course, is utter nonsense. Cathy Wurzer at MPR News and Esme Murphy at WCCO are two senior journalists in Minnesota, have extensive experience in political reporting. Their organizations’ selections to do the interviews were neither unusual nor indefensible, a fact that anyone in the business or who deals with media organizations knows.

Neither reporter has to defend their credentials to anybody. But there they were yesterday, defending themselves to a couple of men who thought they knew better. (Note: Former media reporter David Brauer wasn’t participating in the innuendo but was challenging McClung and Brodkorb)

None of the journalists deserved the not-well-veiled allegations and delegitimizing, while Sen. Al Franken certainly deserves criticism for not holding a full news conference, as the media outlets left out made clear. [Update: Franken will meet with reporters outside his Washington office this afternoon]

The Republican operatives’ fight is between their party and Franken. But they decided that the reputations of journalists — female journalists in this case — was acceptable collateral damage in their ongoing war.

It’s a bad look for the guys.

  • David Brauer

    Just want to state, again, I wasn’t one of the dudes questioning Esme Murphy’s credentials, I was questioning the dudes who seemed to be. (That’s why Brian was responding to me,)

    • Yes, I should have pointed out that out. David was unfairly caught up in the appearance of being with Brodkorb and McClung thanks to the “reply” function of Twitter, which embedded his name in tweets from Brodkorb and McClung. David’s bona fides are pretty unassailable

    • crystals

      I felt for you last night, watching it go down. I feel even worse for the other David Brauer’s and Brian McClung’s on Twitter.

      Brodkorb looks the worst on this, for refusing to let it go despite multiple clarifications from ‘CCO. At least McClung was smart enough to just shut up.

      • McClung’s goal was to light the fuse. Of course he shut up. He had done what he wanted to do. His silence is not a recalibration of his thought. His silence was his strategy.

        • Glynis

          I think there are GOP operatives trying to light many fuses.

          • BJ

            They need to be careful. This isn’t a political ‘side’ issue.

          • Unless they can make it one. Both parties right now are trying to control the issue as a political weapon.

            It’s not really a race to make the climate less hostile for women. It’s a race to get some political traction .

          • BJ

            Oh I agree. But I mean it is a weapon that both sides will have use of.

          • Glynis

            I’m sorry to inform you Bob but the media gets sucked into it way too often. It is he said/she said journalism when you want Franken to definitely deny the women’s allegation and get frustrated that he won’t. And I submit because he knows full well it will lead to exactly the followup he got from both Esme Murphy and Cathy Wurzer asking if he’s calling her a liar when he said he remembers the kiss differently. And getting sucked into that vortex will not change the default narrative either.

            This is serious business for everybody. And maybe the default should be to give everybody the benefit of the doubt while accusations are authenticated.

            Of course then you have those who vociferously deny and attack the women. Well that behavior raises a red flag that subtracts from that benefit.

            We all need to be figuring out how to best respond while realizing when politicians are involved that political weaponization is involved.

          • Trust me. You’re not informing me about anything with regard to how the news business is.

          • Glynis

            so are you saying you agree the media gets sucked into it?

          • No, not really. It’s a characterization you’re using to describe an absence of thought. Is there poor journalism being practiced. In some quarters, yes. It’s not a pleasant process by any stretch but I don’t see not being able to ask questions of politicians being in any way a logical or reasonable alternative to whatever it is displeases you about the journalism.

            //. It is he said/she said journalism when you want Franken to definitely deny the women’s allegation and get frustrated that he won’t.

            No, that’s not it at all. If I’m frustrated, it’s because reporters aren’t given the opportunity to ask the questions in the first place.

            But people have a right to expect an answer from their elected representatives.From a logic point of view, I think if a person doesn’t deny an allegation, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to consider it a he said-she said. It’s a she-said-he-wouldn’t-say situation and people can take away from that whatever they wish to.

          • Glynis

            “If I’m frustrated, it’s because reporters aren’t given the opportunity to ask the questions in the first place”

            It’s not a he said/she said because he’s not giving the media the opportunity to make it one by the way he is answering.

            Reporters were given the chance to ask questions. How many more questions do you need to ask? What other information do you want from him?

            Again, I’ll go back to what I originally said. How about some investigative journalism about the accusations? And I pointed to the WaPO piece about Moore’s accusations to illustrate what I’m talking about.

            Now I have to run but I want to say thank you for engaging in this dialogue. I think it’s important for the media to hear from the public about how this issue is being covered. I hope it might spark some reflection.

            I’ll try to come back later to see if there are anything else I can add.

            Thanks again Bob.

          • Mitch Berg

            Well, yeah. It is. After all the interference the big media ran for the Clintons, to the detriment of many women with complaints about *that* powerful man, they *have* left themselves vulnerable to charges of not just favoritism, but selective indignation about things like sexual harassment.

          • jon

            Not to make this about trump… but sometimes you can’t ignore the buffoon in the front of the room.


            Harvey Weinstein: “I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it.”
            Al Franken: “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words.”
            Bill Clinton: “There’s never been anyone more abusive to women in politics than Bill Clinton.”
            Roy Moore: “He denies it. Look, he denies it. … He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen.”
            Bill O’Reilly: “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
            Roger Ailes: After Ailes was ousted from Fox News, Trump brought him in as an unofficial campaign adviser

            I wonder what the difference is between the people labeled as “democrat” and those labeled as “republican” could be…

  • I would hope that the names “Brodkorb” and “McClung” are recognized as being the partisan hacks that they are.

    • QuietBlue

      Brodkorb did excellent work writing about the Rucki kidnapping case. But yes, this here was not one of his better moments.

      • You can take the boy out of Minnesota Democrats Exposed, but you can’t take Minnesota Democrats Exposed out of the boy.

        • mbrodkorb

          Huh, referring to me as a “boy”- no innuendo there Bob.

          • Jim in RF

            It’s a pretty common trope.

          • BJ

            clearly you have never heard “you can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy.” It’s a pretty well know phrase.

          • He knows that.

          • Mark Gisleson

            Good of you to man up and admit that.

        • RBHolb

          Isn’t that the truth? I had revised my earlier opinion on an apropos career for Mr. Brodkorb (probably unprintable here). Now, I’m not so sure I wasn’t right all along.

  • Mike Worcester

    The comments on the MPR FB page about Ms. Wurzer’s interview were a sight. Half of them said bravo for asking tough questions and not letting Sen. Franken try to slip out of answering them. Half of them assailed her for lobbing softballs and letting him get out of answering the charges directly. Sadly it was about what I expected.

    That said I see two issues here: one is challenging the credentials of the interviewers – something that is unfair considering the long and respected tenure of the two; second is as Bob noted, why Sen. Franken did not hold a full on presser. Maybe now that he has done this initial set of interviews he will?

    • Does he even need to have one? I don’t really see the need for a bunch of sound bites that would be gleaned from a press conference.

      • Mike Worcester

        Good question and again I’m not sure. If he doesn’t will he be accused of “hiding” from the media? If he does will it be nothing more than a circus? I think waaaay back to when Gennifer Flowers had accused then-Governor Bill Clinton of philandering and Stuttering John from the Howard Stern Show was at her presser and asked if she planned on sleeping with any other candidates. The whole event became a joke (and maybe it should have been considered that in the first place but that’s another story), so a part of me cringes at the thought of such a free-for-all.

        • Exactly.

          Nothing good (or of substance) would come of a full-fledged PC.

        • Franken’s strategy feeds into that and make no mistake, this is all Franken’s strategy. He’s not Joe Private. He’s a sitting United States senator representing the state of Minnesota, put there by the people of Minnesota. He should be required to answer to all of Minnesota.

          • Glynis

            How about we not turn it into a media controlled narrative?

          • I’m not really sure what that means. The alternative is to turn it into a Franken controlled narrative.

            Your comment, it seems to me, shows the success of the Trump inspired undermining of media credibility. The fact of the matter is there’s a story here and the asking of questions is part of the media’s job.

            The majority of the media in Minnesota are not being allowed to ask those questions.

            You can certainly dismiss whatever they report or whatever questions they ask. But I do think you need to understand that the increasing calls for the media to stay out of things involving elected politicians is a dangerous and troubling trend.

          • Glynis

            the alternative is to do some investigative journalism like WaPO did with the Moore allegations.

        • Glynis

          perfect catch-22 eh? just like if he denies the follow up is that he’s calling the women liars. Esme Murphy and Cathy Wurzer went there when he said he remembers the kiss differently. If he doesn’t deny then he’s not being transparent with the subtext is he’s guilty because he’s not denying. And that was part of the interview too.

          Why does someone ask for an investigation? Could it be because that’s the way to authenticate the accusations without getting into a he said/she said argument or picking apart their claims in the media? What kind of a media feeding frenzy would that lead to?

          Seems to me he’s trying to be accountable for his behavior that made the women feel how they did about the encounters while at the same time saying he wants an investigation and will fully cooperate. Which leads me to think that there is more he wants to say but doesn’t want to argue it in the media.

          Given this, It would be a no win situation to do a press conference.

          • jon

            An investigation can be a diversion as much as anything else.

            When held to the rules of ethics in the senate (a body that has a long history of housing some real dirt balls) no wrongdoing will be found.
            71 out of 100 senators really don’t want Franken booted for this, because it opens them up to being booted for similar behavior when it comes to light.
            And ~52 senators want to keep this story alive as long as they can to detract from Moore and Trump’s own sexual misconduct.

            an investigation is a good way to sweep everything under the rug rather than face it… and now that sweeping it under the rug is no longer an option, the invitation for an investigation can’t be withdrawn.

          • Glynis

            That may be how they handled it in the past but there is too much pressure on them now to sweep it under the rug.

          • jon

            Yeah… I’m sure that is what they said “in the past” too…

            Let’s say they start an investigation… senate releases for break in 2 weeks… re-conveniences what, end of Jan, feb? months have past since there was “pressure”.

            The motivation to keep the story alive for the GOP dies dec 12th when AL has their special election…
            The senate breaks for the year on the 15th of december…

            What does the “pressure” for this story look like in January…
            How about when the ethics committee starts their investigation, and has their closed door meetings on it scheduled 2-3 months out?

            When the findings are released in June, August of 2018 (assuming things are done fast), and tell the same story that we’ve heard in the news so far?

          • Glynis

            so then how do you think public officials should handle accusations like this? Because if you think that accusations are sufficient then you’d have to dismiss that false accusations do occur. And wouldn’t that be a powerful weapon to use against politicians, Republican or Democratic. And let’s not forget the false accusations that were lobbed during the presidential election and those weren’t this explosive.

          • // Because if you think that accusations are sufficient then you’d have to dismiss that false accusations do occur.

            I think Sen. Franken gave you that answer. He said believe the women.

            The default setting has been to not believe them. Maybe, change that.

            Accusers need to be vetted, of course, and part of that is to be able to ask questions of the accused. If they say “I don’t remember it that way,” well, then the follow-up question is obvious, isn’t it?

            Again, as I said last week, the correct answer to an allegation that someone grabbed someone’s behind during a photo shoot isn’t, “I don’t remember that picture.” It’s, “I’ve never grabbed a woman’s behind during a photo shoot.” So part of the process of asking questions, is to listen to the answer and challenge those answers.

            If someone isn’t answering the questions, you can’t even challenge the answers.

            That’s the plan.

          • Glynis

            “I’ve never grabbed a woman’s behind during a photo shoot.”

            And the inevitable follow up is are you calling them a liar?

            Perfect catch-22 which doesn’t change the default.

            So, yes, let’s change the default. Take the women’s accusations seriously, don’t call them liars or threaten them or attack their character, but authenticate their accusations.

            Yeah, Franken is stumbling in his comments. He also told the Star Tribune that he wouldn’t intentionally do that. So in my mind he’s trying to acknowledge that maybe something did happen in those encounters that made them uncomfortable and that is what he’s apologized for.

            It’s the media’s job to be skeptical, seems to me the media is spending more time being skeptical about Franken than they are in being skeptical about accusations against a person that has never had a hint of behavior like this in his past.

            I just haven’t seen the kind of vetting that you say “of course” to. (And I might add, you don’t vet the accusers you vet the accusations. I think that is a distinction that also helps change the default.)

          • jon

            “so then how do you think public officials should handle accusations like this?”

            I think Franken’s response has been one of the best available to date.

            But denying that there is a systemic culture to deal with these allegations and sweep them under the rug is absolutely ridiculous… and once we have this swept under the rug, we can get to this point next time there are allegations like this against a sitting senator, and expect a different result that time…

            Denying there is a problem is a sure fire way make sure there remains a problem… and I’ve seen nothing done here that would fix it.

          • Glynis

            then what is the proper venue that we should be pursuing? Let’s start with Franken since he said he will cooperate fully. Let’s put it to the test.

          • jon

            So there is a systemic issue… these are complicated, based into the process, not easy to fix… they exist, denying them doesn’t make them go away, assuming that an ethics investigation is a cure all that cures the most isn’t helpful…

            I don’t know what the best path forward is, but I do have a pretty good guess that running it through the same process we’ve used over and over again with little success isn’t a particularly effective way forward.

      • The entire press conference would be available to anyone who wanted to find it and, yes, he does need to have one. Nothing new would be said? We don’t know that.

        His handlers have a strategy that this will all blow over. A rising chorus of “he doesn’t need a press conference” is part of that strategy.

        • Glynis

          Of course the press thinks that. How is shouting questions at him going to help clarify anything? How about some investigative reporting like WaPO did on the Moore allegations?

          • >>How is shouting questions at him going to help clarify anything?<<

            My thinking exactly.

          • Would you be OK with questions in a normal voice?

          • No, it would have to be a high-pitched screeching voice.

            In all seriousness, i don’t think anything more than sound bites would be gleaned from a PC.

          • jon

            PC culture is killing America!

          • Good interview in the PiPress today, I think. And now he’s scheduled a media scrum outside his office. That’s the very last place you want to do something like this.


          • Glynis

            yes, it is. Much more specific with followup questions. I think that’s the thing about interviews in general for both the press and the person being interviewed. More specifics from both always occur because the media re-evaluates what questions are asked and the interviewee re-evaluates how they can be clearer in their answers. Thanks for the link.

          • Well, first of all, news conferences involving the Minnesota media and its politicians are almost never shouted. So the image you’re attempting to create is disrespectful to them and the work they do.

            Asking Franken questions isn’t the sum and substance of reporting the story. But it’s a pretty important part. And Franken has a strategy not to allow it or at least to limit it.

            That should concern people although I understand that the Franken issue is a partisan one for people and it’s inconvenient to support the role of journalists in this particular case for many people.

            That fact is also part of the strategy of Franken’s handlers.

          • Glynis

            Why do you ascribe a nefarious reason to why he doesn’t want a press conference. Isn’t it equally plausible that he doesn’t want to get into a he said/she said argument picking apart the accusations in the media?

            I equally object to your implication that I’m being partisan as being disrespectful to me. My comments apply equally to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, no party affiliation and anybody not political.

          • “he said/she said”

            Franken has admitted past inappropriate behavior toward women.


          • Glynis

            What did he admit he did? I’m honestly asking here.

          • Glynis

            Thanks I saw that. I don’t know if he repeated anywhere in that 35 minutes what he said to Star Tribune that he would not intentionally do that.

            That is also asking a different question than what the women accused him of doing. I’ve accidentally hit a man in his crotch. I’ve been accidentally touched on the breast. I’ve talked to other people who have said the same. So I view that answer through that lens.

            But you see, you’ve got a great sound bite with a subtext of him saying he gropes women in public venues at photo ops. Or, as you said, he admitted to past inappropriate behavior which is even broader than the specific accusations. Shouldn’t media stick with the specifics he’s accused of doing? I would avoid a press conference for this very reason.

            Perhaps a better question would have been “have you ever intentionally groped a woman’s butt at a campaign event?” That addresses the specific accusations. And hopefully, wouldn’t lead to the “are you calling the women liars?” followup. Media really needs to drop that kind of question because it’s really a gotcha, when did you stop beating your wife, question.

          • // “have you ever intentionally groped a woman’s butt at a campaign event?”

            Is there a way to UNintentionally grope a woman’s butt. I get the “my hand slipped” and “I’m a very friendly person” stuff. But a hand sliding on or off a woman’s behind while moving it someplace else is a lot different grabbing.

            Franken’s response to the questions he doesn’t want to answer is “it doesn’t matter”.

            I guess that’s for people to decide now.

          • Glynis

            Your own MPR interviewer, Cathy Wurzer, asked a much more direct question: “Did you put your hand on someones butt during a photo shoot”? His answer: “I would never intentionally do that.”

            But who is tweeting that one out? MPR didn’t even mention it in the write up of the interview The only place I saw it written was the Star Tribune.

            His response “it doesn’t matter” was saying his intention doesn’t matter because it’s important to respect the women’s feeling about it. I think it’s really disingenuous of you to say that response was because he doesn’t want to answer questions.

            Yes, unintentionally touching is different than groping but neither used the word groping either. From what I heard, Cathy Wurzer came closest. I get that it’s not easy doing interviews about this either but the questions have to be as unambiguous as possible.

            But see what happens when you start picking apart questions and answers? He’s taking great pains in the MPR interview to say he wants to respect the women’s feelings about it which is an attempt to change the default as you mentioned before.

          • “No, and I’m not going to go into this. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that, I’m ashamed of that photo. It was an inappropriate photo, and I am so grateful to Leeann that she accepted my apology.”

            Amber Phillips pretty much has it right.

            “‘Respect’ what his accusers say happened, but don’t admit to what he’s accused of.”


          • Glynis

            And what was the question? You keep cherry picking statements to support your original claim about what he means when he’s saying “it doesn’t matter”. I don’t think it’s a fair reading of it.

          • Well, we obviously disagree. Taken in the context from all his interviews, I think he’s using it to say he’s not going to answer the question.

          • Glynis

            you linked to the PioPress article. I think he answers more clearly and it’s actually more in line with what I am saying.
            “And what I meant about, you know, the intentions is that I think that we have to listen to women and honor their experience.”
            “No. No. That’s never been my intention. That’s not my intention. Again, what matters is what the woman experienced. That does matter, and I apologize if they felt uncomfortable, but that is not something that I intentionally would do.”

          • //Your own MPR interviewer, Cathy Wurzer, asked a much more direct question: “Did you put your hand on someones butt during a photo shoot”? His answer: “I would never intentionally do that.”

            Then he said “my intention isn’t important” (doesn’t matter). He repeated the same answer a moment later when asked about the photo when asked specifically what his intention was. Then said it a third time.

          • Glynis

            Yes he did repeat his intention isn’t important (doesn’t matter) but continued on to say it’s important to listen to and respect the women’s feelings about it. Do you not get that he’s trying to do exactly what you said about changing the default? He’s taking great pains to validate their feelings instead of calling them liars while saying he wouldn’t intentionally do what they said.

            This is the only way to change the default and have discussions about it without blaming and shaming the women. This is the first time we’ve had that opportunity because of how Mr. Trump and Mr. Moore have handled accusations.
            I for one think that how we all respond to this attempt is going to set a tone. He’s saying he wants to be part of the discussion. Let him.

      • Jeff

        I remember back when Geraldine Ferraro was being accused of financial misdealings she helld a 2 hour press conference which she answered questions until there were no more. It helped her immensely.

        But also maybe part of his pennance should be to have embarrassing questions shouted at him for a hour or two.

    • jon

      What would happen if right now all the women who have accused franken came out and said they made it all up, the photo was staged, and the whole thing was blown out of proportion?

      Do we really think the story would shift away from Franken?
      Would maybe half of the news outlets drop the story, or change focus to why they made it all up?
      Would the other half keep harping on Franken the sex offender stories, and try to explain (mansplain?) the denials away?

      This story sticks not because of the women, not because of franken, but because it’s partisan and partisans love partisan things. We’ve moved past the story having anything to do with Franken, and everything to do with him being a democrat, and the GOP being the GOP… and we can use the same form for writing cheap shots at the other side as we always have…. GOP are hypocrites, Democrats control the media… and print it!

      • Kellpa07

        No argument that the GOP are often hypocrites. Funny, however that you note this in the context of Al Franken, “Champion of Women” committing serious sexual misbehavior towards women.

        • Glynis

          alleged accusations. Accusations are not proof. All accusations, whether against Democrats or Republicans, must be authenticated. WaPO did a serious job of investigative journalism about the Moore allegations. The stories about these were more tabloid journalism than investigative.

          • Kellpa07

            There is photographic evidence of one accusation against Franken. That shows sexual misbehavior, the seriousness of which may be open to questions, although I would say it’s serious. The other accusation against Franken, that he forcibly kissed a woman without her consent is met with his “sort of denial” wherein he says “I don’t remember it that way,” and refusing to say how he remembers it.
            About the groping photos: If you asked me, I would be able to say exactly how many rear-ends of relative strangers I have grabbed (zero). Clearly, Al cannot say that. That is not a good sign, nor is it a good sign that Al will not answer questions during a press conference.
            I will also say that at least the initial complainant in the photo groping group has credibility about the complaint given her contemporaneous facebook post.
            I do agree these complaints warrant skepticism, and ought not to be taken at face value. Part of the looking into the questions requires an opportunity to see how the accused handles the accusations. Case in point: Roy Moore. In the friendliest of interviews, he was terrible. From that, one can reasonably conclude the allegations have merit.

          • Glynis

            I do have a response but must run right now. I’ll come back later.

          • Glynis

            there is photographic evidence that he was pretending to grope her. Yes, that is crude and demeaning. And he is rightly embarrassed by a photo like that and has apologized which Ms. Tweeden has said she believes is sincere and has accepted.

            She said all she wanted was an apology. It’s unfortunate that in the intervening years she didn’t let him know how she felt about it and give him the opportunity to apologize instead of going to the press first. She didn’t even have to do so face to face if she was uncomfortable approaching him, she could have written him a letter. If he had rebuffed her I could definitely see her going to the press, but that’s not what happened. Too bad nobody in the media had follow up questions about that.

            I also put that photo in the context of that USO show in which all the performers were engaging in crude and inappropriate behavior, including Ms. Tweeden. Given that context, I can see why at the time he thought it was funny given that there is a “joke” in the military about how you can’t grope a woman in a kevlar vest and there was quite a bit of grabby behavior in the show. That doesn’t excuse it, it gives context to it. Maybe it’s time for the USO show to drop that content especially given the issues about sexual assault in the military.

            I read a MotherJones article he did in 2004 about the kiss skit that describes the script. I’ll just say that her description of it closely follows the script except the part about who gets the deep kiss at the end. It’s a set up for bringing a soldier onstage. Now, maybe that’s how he remembers it. Why doesn’t he just say that? He’s taking great pains to not discount the women’s recollections.

            What Franken did say in both the Star Tribune and MPR interview is that he would never intentionaly touch a woman’s butt. As for the Facebook post, it has not been independently verified. She provided screenshots to CNN of an exchange with her sister. Star Trib said they contacted her sister and she said “no comment”.

          • // Too bad nobody in the media had follow up questions about that.

            So we’re done with the “respecting the women” portion of this now?

            Womens careers have been and continue to be ruined by stepping forward. That’s a constant theme. In Oreskes, in Moore, in Weinstein and here. It’s astounding to me that inevitably all the talk ends up back with a focus on the ulterior motives of women. In this woman’s case, she said the same thing. She was afraid of what it would do to her career.

            Did you read this?

            Specifically this part: “There isn’t much that’s more upsetting as a rape survivor than someone telling you or implying that you should be raped again,” Honold said. Still, she said, she’s not backing down


          • Glynis

            you mean to tell me you couldn’t be respectful in asking a question like that? Cathy Wurzer asked Franken something along those lines about the photo. Believing women is taking their accusations seriously but doesn’t mean you don’t ask any questions.

          • Well, first of all she addressed the question when she made her allegations.

            I think it’s fine to ask women about their allegations. I think the continual… “why are you just revealing this nowwwww?” refrain is a smear attempt at their credibility.

          • Glynis

            Are you talking about when she said she was afraid to come forward? She felt empowered now because of all the women speaking out? So a respectful question about if she thought about approaching him personally first isn’t a logical followup? She also said very clearly all she wanted was an apology. I personally don’t know anybody that goes to the press to get an apology from someone.

          • And in your opinion what does the fact she chose to out him say to you about her allegations? And why would it have been better if she just kept it to herself or between the two of them?

          • Glynis

            Yes, I’m skeptical of her motives. She’s the one who said all she wanted was an apology. Why was it necessary for the apology to be public? She said that picture was on a CD that those in the show received. It wasn’t in the public realm until she herself put it there. He went through 2 elections and it was never made public. Yeah, my mind went there. Why now? I give Franken a lot of credit for staying away from what could detract from the message he’s taking great pains to get across.

          • JamieHX

            I have felt pretty trusting of all the women who have come forward with these accusations lately, even of the ones who accused men I had liked for one reason or another. But there was something I didn’t trust about Tweeden when I first saw her press conference (or whatever that was), and I didn’t yet know anything about her. Part of it was her manner – kind of diva-ish and dramatic in her story telling, and I wondered if she was trying to put across a certain image or something, like maybe she was trying to break into acting or something.

            Another part of it was that it seemed to me that she lied, saying Franken had groped her breasts when the photo makes it clear that he didn’t actually touch her. Yes, I know, that’s only a tiny bit less bad, but my point is what she SAID about it.

            Another thing was that she said that she had eventually put it behind her and had forgiven Franken (don’t recall exact words). But now she was bringing it up and ridiculing Franken in a mean way. Why would she do that if she had put it behind her? Later I learned that she had Republican ties and that made sense to me because of how Republicans use ridicule and taunting so much.

          • If ever I were to enter politics and become a sexual harasser, I would be absolutely sure my victims were in the other political party.

          • Kellpa07

            “But now she was bringing it up and ridiculing Franken in a mean way.”

            You are honestly concerned about how nice the person who was groped (or made fun of in a sexual way, while asleep, by a celebrity who became a powerful US Senator) in the manner in which she makes her allegations? What other victims do you think should have made their accusations in a “nicer” way?

          • JamieHX

            This is one of the problems with how we’re handling this situation. There’s a larger picture which I attempted to paint, with many other influencing factors, and you pick out one small thing and isolate it to the point of redefining it and condemn the whole picture.

          • Kellpa07

            Well, your first complaint was that you didn’t like the “manner” in which she made her complaints. You referred to it as “diva-ish and dramatic.” Those terms are loaded against women. Did she cry too much, not enough? Should she just have appeared with Gloria Allred?
            You think she lied about the photo? I guess I haven’t studied the photo in close detail, but the first time I looked at it, yeah it looked like he grabbed her. She was asleep for god’s sake. The photo was terrible, and speaks for itself. Franken has (rightly) said that he is ashamed. Maybe you want a perfect victim who gets every single detail correct, every time.
            Your next complaint is that she had moved past it, but now was bringing it up (meanly). Why would she bring it up now? Did you ask this about the accusers or any other man who has had accusations from 20 or more years ago? Many of them have “moved on” from their harassment, but thought others could benefit from knowing they are not alone, or by knowing that some of these men should be avoided. You also cite her Republican ties. Certainly politics can influence nasty accusations. That could go both ways, though, couldn’t it?
            These are the points you cited. What other “larger picture” am I missing?

          • Kellpa07

            The nature of the allegations and alleged misdoings make it nearly impossible to know for sure what happened. Franken’s inability to say “I have never done that” makes it tough to believe that three women are lying. As long as there’s a lack of certainty, people will disagree on what happened. Thanks for your comments.

          • Glynis

            what he did say was, “I would never intentionally do that”. I think MPR could do a better job of making that clearer. I don’t know if he said anything like that to WCCO during the 35 minute interview. They are highlighting something that gives a very different impression. I totally agree people will disagree on what happened no matter what he says.

          • HAve you watched or listened to the interviews either at WCCO or MPR?

          • Glynis

            yep, both of them. And read the Star Tribune article that came out yesterday.

          • The reason I ask is because you said you didn’t know if he answered WCCO’s question.

            The MPR story says the quote exactly as you described. What part isn’t clear?

          • Glynis

            yes, in the interview, I was referring to a write up of the interview on the MPR website. That quote isn’t there. As you know, not everybody reading the write up will listen to the whole interview. You highlighted the tweet from WCCO, I don’t know what you tweeted about it or if it had any quotes like that one.

          • The quote was in the write up.

          • Glynis

            then I’m looking at a different write up then you are.

            Sen. Al Franken: ‘This has been a shock to me’ Nov 26, 2017 The quote isn’t there.

          • The two allege that Franken touched their bottoms during events for his first campaign for Senate. The women spoke to Huffington Post on condition of anonymity. They said the events occurred in Minneapolis in 2007 and 2008.

            Franken said he would “never intentionally do that.” And he underscored that he has stood for pictures with thousands of people.

            “I’m someone who, you know, hugs people,” Franken said. “I’ve learned from these stories that in some of these encounters I have crossed the line for some women.”

          • Glynis

            I see it now but I read that article more than once specifically looking for the comment and missed it.

          • JamieHX

            “…the initial complainant in the photo groping group has credibility
            about the complaint given her contemporaneous facebook post.”

            That’s not solid proof of her veracity. For one thing, Republicans play dirty – they even brag about doing so. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if they set that whole situation up.

          • Kellpa07


          • JamieHX

            Did you read my other comment above?

  • Rob

    It can never be said too many times: Nobody does cluelessness, hypocrisy and self-righteousness better than the Repubs.

    • Mitch Berg

      Dunno, Mr. H. Looking at all the Dems who are busy “slut-shaming” Lynae Tweeden, just as they smeared and trashed Clinton’s accusers 20 years ago, I think you’re selling Democrats’ hypocrisy, cluelessness and hubris chops way too short.

      • Glynis

        What Dems are “slut-shaming” her? Because that is just horrible and they should be called out for it. Names please along with what they are saying.

        • Kellpa07

          Plenty of it on twitter. Starts more or less mildly with Bette Midler, and spirals dramatically and disgustingly from there.

          • Glynis

            I thought he was talking about elected Democrats. On twitter you can find plenty of “slut shaming” of the women accusing Roy Moore too by conservatives and Trump supporters but you also find elected Republican’s in AL doing so too. His campaign leaked personal information just today attacking the character of one of them.

        • Mitch Berg

          For starters, MSNBC ran the “Tweeden kissed some of the other guys, and she was a cheesecake pinup anyway, so Franken didn’t do anything wrong” line. Some of the Democrat-linked meme shops (“Occupy Democrats”, among others) have been pumping out that kind of noise, too.

          “I thought he was talking about elected Democrats. ”

          No. Elected Dems, at least on the national level, pay people to do the dirty work for them.

          “On twitter you can find plenty of “slut shaming” of the women accusing Roy Moore too by conservatives and Trump supporters”

          So – that makes it OK for A-Frank’s supporters?

          I for one don’t live in Alabama, so I’m focusing – as is Bob – on the kerfuffle here.

          • Glynis

            heh. yeah, Democrats pay people. Republican “meme shops” are all organic.
            So unlike elected Republicans there are no elected Democrats who are slut shaming the women.

            Did I say that conservative slut shaming is ok or was I responding to someone else focusing on Dems as if they are the only ones?

      • RBHolb

        “[J]ust as they smeared and trashed Clinton’s accusers 20 years ago . . .”

        How about a little context for the “smearing and trashing?” Remember those days? How every morning’s newspaper brought a new round of accusations that were, at best, meaningless, and at worst, ghoulish (Yes, I mean Vince Foster)? Remember Travelgate? The Mena Airport? Whitewater? The time and effort spent on the impeachment investigation?

        Was there any wonder that thinking people would look askance at the continual line of accusers being trotted out? The accusers were used by the conservative inquisitors (How much did Paula Jones get from her settlement?). If they were “smeared and trashed,” the Clinton-obsessives who used them as exhibits have to own some of that.

  • manyhorses

    Michael Brodkorb???????? who bloody cares what he thinks?

  • mbrodkorb

    Bob Collins would never miss an opportunity to focus on “innuendo” when the facts would present a different story.

    Also, Bob fails to report that WCCO initial reported that Franken requested that his interview with WCCO be conducted by Esme.

    The questions last evening were about the process by which Sen. Franken and his office selected who would be granted interviews and IF they had a role in selecting who was being interview.

    They were fair questions, which were answered. I tweeted both the questions and the answers. No conspiracy, no “innuendo.”

    But Bob reporting “just the facts” instead of “innuendo” wouldn’t make for a click-worthy post.

    • .// They were fair questions, which were answered. I tweeted both the questions and the answers. No conspiracy, no “innuendo.”

      And that would be entirely believable if today were either your first day in the business, or mine.

      • mbrodkorb

        My questions and concerns were shared and raised by reporters. The process by which Senator Franken scheduled and conducted the interviews is newsworthy – open to analysis and commentary.

        • A good basis for analyzing is to know what you’re talking about in the first place. The original WCCO tweet came after you’d already taken up McClung’s innuendo.

          Criticism of Franken for limiting the number of interviews he’d do is fair. Suggesting he handpicked reporters was not. As David McCoy pointed out, you persisted in the suggestion even after you were enlightened, which is what you should have been before suggesting even the POSSIBILITY that Brooks, Wurzer, and Murphy were selected because they’d go soft on Franken.

          This is a skill you’ve perfected from back when you anonymously ran a website that specialized in this sort of thing . So you don’t really get the luxury of being a victim now.

          • mbrodkorb

            Bob, check your facts.

            I had no concern with Jennifer Brooks conducting an interview – the record is clear.

            I asked the questions about MPR and WCCO. MPR answered, and I retweeted their answer.

            WCCO responded by claiming Franken asked for Esme to conduct the interview. They later clarified, and the issued a full correction of their tweet.

            I publicly called on them to delete their mistaken tweet about Esme, which they did.

            Again, the facts are clear. No “innuendo” no grand conspiracy. I complimented Esme and Cathy for their interviews.

            But again Bob, you’ve omitted facts from your story to promote your theory on the “innuendo.”

          • I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy. It’s just you and McClung. But your goal was clear from the get-go by virtue of the fact you chose to broadcast on social media, that which you could have gotten an answer to in the normal fashion. So your questions were esssentially rhetorical to create the perception that Wurzer and Murphy would go soft on Franken.

            You had no absolutely NO problem impugning their reputations and journalistic ability by so much as suggesting even the POSSIBILITY of a soft interview.

            Shame on you for that. It’s beyond the lowest of the low.

          • mbrodkorb

            Now I get it Bob, you’re still upset about being called out on your reckless and false tweets about Republicans cheering about Wellstone’s death. Shame on you for that. It’s beyond the lowest of the low.

          • crystals

            You are really not helping yourself, FYI. You are coming across as unable to take any sort of criticism for your own choices, and kind of desperate to seem like the noble one in this situation. It’s not a great look.

          • Yeah, I owned that. That’s one of the many characteristics where you and I are different.

          • mbrodkorb

            Bob, I’ve reviewed your comments on this post – wow. You clearly have issues with personally, as your comments have become very personal, disrespectful, and hostile. I won’t engage you anymore on this subject.

          • theoacme
          • Well dang, I was just settling in with my popcorn! Oh, the feigned outrage of political operatives just asking innocent questions.🙄

          • dukepowell

            That’s gonna leave a mark…..

    • Rob

      I only recall Bob C. focusing on innuendo when it was being slung by anonymous political shills on weaponized blog sites.

  • AL287

    The stereotype of women being the little wifey at home and keeping the house immaculate, taking care of the kids, doing the shopping/laundry and throwing lavish dinners for her husband’s business associates and bosses is clearly in view here.

    I suggest everyone on this blog who has a Netflix account watch “Mona Lisa Smile” with Julia Roberts, Julia Styles, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gillenhaal, and Gennifer Goodwin before it leaves Netflix for good.

    They don’t say it but this is exactly what men of a certain age want women to be doing, not conducting controversial interviews and anchoring newscasts or running a Fortune 500 company. Our “trusty” commander-in-chief is among them. So is Roy Moore.

    This has been the issue ever since women went to work in World War II. They got a taste of the empowerment of work outside the home and liked it.

    Until the generation over 70 is out of politics, these accusations will continue to surface without anything really being done.

    There are men over 70 that have a more progressive view of women’s roles in society but there are not enough of them in either party to stop the harassment of women, minorities and LGBTQ’s in the workplace.

    Al Franken is of a different generation and he needs to be given the chance to answer the accusations WITHOUT the incessant glare of the media.

    • // Al Franken is of a different generation and he needs to be given the chance to answer the accusations WITHOUT the incessant glare of the media.

      It’s the media’s job to ask questions. It’s a bad idea for anyone to becoming a United State senator if the glare of the media bothers you.

      He didn’t have a problem with it when he was selling a book.

      It comes with the territory.

      • Update: Franken will meet with Washington reporters outside his office. Questions will be shouted.

        • Glynis

          now you can feel perfectly justified in demanding the same.

          • A media scrum is a terrible venue.

          • Glynis

            yeah, I sure wouldn’t have advised him to do it. But my point still stands, you can demand your press conference.

      • AL287

        The problem with the media and that includes the public media realm is that they don’t know when a story has run its course.

        There is as much distrust of politicians as there is of the media. That is no lie. Thanks to our illustrious POTUS, trust in the media is at an all time low.

        Al Franken has put his job on the line and has given more interviews and answered more questions on an extremely socially and emotionally charged issue than any other man put in a position of having to defend himself against what are allegations of sexual intent when that might not have been his intent at all. Even if he says it wasn’t no one believes him.

        No matter what the man says or does, someone, somewhere is going to be offended and want his head on a platter.

        And that’s really and truly what the #metoo movement wants, right?

        Retribution. It sounds so grand but really delivers very little.

        I want him to stay in the Senate.

        If that makes me an insult to womanhood, then I am guilty as charged.

        What would be your reaction, Bob if the shoe were on the other foot and don’t answer the question by saying ‘but it isn’t.’

        You’re saying to yourself smugly, “I’m sure glad it’s not me.”

        • // s that they don’t know when a story has run its course.

          Nothing could be further from the truth, actually. Frankly, I’m repulsed by the new editorial processes of the media that look at the metrics of audience interest, although they do reveal the little lies that people tell, like, “I dont like the hyping of snowstorms”

          The top three stories on the MPR website right now, by the way, are sexual harassment stories, just ahead of Prince Harry. I’d bet it’s that way at every media site in the Twin Cities since the Vikings didn’t play yesterday.

          But anyway, assuming you endeavored to become well informed on the question of Franken and his Senate future, there’s nothing wrong with deciding you want him to remain.

          // You’re saying to yourself smugly, “I’m sure glad it’s not me.”

          You’re aware that between the two of us, you’re the least qualified to provide any analysis on this particular point, right?

  • Gary F

    I’m just glad Al is not going to step down. It’s fun watching all the hand wringing and finger pointing between all the parties and the media. It should make the 2018 state and national elections quite interesting.

    • A lot of this reminds me of the VA crisis a few years ago. For a few weeks, the plight of veterans occupied the news and the politicians because there was a chance to take out an Obama appointee, who headed the VA at the time.

      All the pols said all the right things about doing right by veterans.

      And when they finally got Erik Shinseki’s resignation as secretary of veterans affairs, that was the last we heard about any of it.

      The veterans were the props in a much larger war.

      And too many people think that war is a big, fun, entertaining game.

    • RBHolb

      Maybe so. I happen to think there is a higher purpose to our system than entertaining us when we don’t want to pay to watch WWE, but that’s just me.

    • Rob

      Let’s hope that developments regarding Roy Moore or harassment lawsuits filed against Moore’s defender/Groper-in-Chief T.Rump don’t eclipse any Franken coverage.

      • kevins

        Amen brother.

  • Mitch Berg

    “the innuendo was clear: the women were a lesser choice for an important interview. ”

    Well, yeah – the innuendo *was* clear. But it wasn’t the one you thought it was.

    McClung is saying the reporters chosen could be counted on to push Franken, but not *too* hard.

    I’m neither questioning credentials (doy) nor impugning anyone’s news department. And as you know, Bob, I’ve credited MPR News with at least *trying* for some sort of balance.

    But is it unreasonable to think Franken’s people picked their outlets for a reason?
    Iris Perez (from Fox9, which doesn’t even bother hiding its biases) said it in as many words; he’s on a campaign to “rebuild trust”. You think he or his handlers had any intention of risking that mission?

    Kessler’s a perfectly fine reporter. Wurzer’s had her moments; I didn’t hear her interview anyway. But Esme Murphy – her seniority and credentials notwithstanding – does have a habit of treating interviews with GOP candidates like she’s prosecuting a war crime; her interviews with DFL pols in contrast are *relentlessly* collegial; I’d liken them to slumber parties, complete with painting the guests’ toenails. She’s about as “tough” with them as a Tickle Me Elmo. If I were a DFL PR flak trying to put on appearances, she’d be on my short list.

    And saying “Murphy asked many times for an interview with Franken” doesn’t exactly counter McClung’s innuendo; many of us have asked Franken for an interview; I’ve asked at least once every election cycle since 2007, and gotten not so much as a rude dismissal. Asking is easy. Having Franken’s people deem you worthy of response? That’s another thing altogether.

    Finally: I’ll await the big Metro Media’s next round of bemused amazement that journos are trusted less than used car dealers, with Augustinyak’s tweet at the ready. We can count on the High Priests of Information to rally around their own – membership has its privileges – but the contempt some of y’all feel for any criticism is a little hubris-y .

    • // I’m neither questioning credentials (doy) nor impugning anyone’s news department. And as you know, Bob, I’ve credited MPR News with at least *trying* for some sort of balance.

      The construction of this sentence alone is why I’m a big fan, Mitch.

      • Mitch Berg

        Back atcha, you big lug.

    • dukepowell

      1. I’m disappointed that no one asked Franken about the accusation that he suggested to one of the ladies that they “visit the bathroom together.”

      2. As for the kerfuffle concerning “handpicked” interviews. It has to be mentioned that Esme Murphy was the reporter who, with tears rolling down her cheeks, announced that, “We lost,” the night that Rod Grams defeated Ann Wynia. Esme Murphy is a partisan and an obvious choice for the friendliest interview.

      3. I have a question for the Senator that he would undoubtedly ask me if our roles were reversed. I’ll not ask it, however, since it would be deemed impolitic.

      • Actually, that’s one of the few allegations that he tackled head on and specifically.

        ” I can categorically say that I did not proposition anyone to join me in any bathroom.”

        • dukepowell

          You are right. Missed it.

      • Mitch Berg

        ” It has to be mentioned that Esme Murphy was the reporter who, with tears rolling down her cheeks, announced that, “We lost,” the night that Rod Grams defeated Ann Wynia.”

        Gack. I’d forgotten that.

        At least, directly.

        But that’s just one more data point on the curve toward overt bias that conservatives see when Murphy interviews pols.

    • Gary F

      That pretty much sums it up. Now lets pop some popcorn and watch this saga drag on to the 2018 elections.

  • Mark Gisleson

    If I were a hard-bitten assignment editor, I would ALWAYS go against the grain. Franken accused of being a groper? Send in the women reporters. Just like you’d send reporters of color to interview an alleged racist, or a GLBT reporter to interview an anti-gay family values type.

    But you can’t expect Republicans to understand this because they have their own network, Fox, to ask them friendly questions when they get in a jam. The “liberal” news media may be in the bag on a lot of things from drumming up support for ill-considered wars to selling Potemkin candidates, but when it comes to ripping on a liberal politician in trouble . . . they’re real pros and keep their knives sharp.

    And speaking of real pros, it’s always nice to see Michael Brodkorb’s name pop up to remind us that you can always weigh in on the sins of others when they’re sins you’re personally familiar with.

  • This is pure Trumpism. Argumentum ad hominem is the fasted way to appease his base. Label the source of non-partyline information as “the enemy” or a “shill for the left” and they will tune it out like good little automatons. It’s working for him.

    The question of concern is why is that working at all.

  • StanUlam

    Once again, my story.

    1991 – Just got out of a great dinner (TaterTot Hotdish, pot roast, green beans), and headed over to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds to take a gander at the blue-ribbon butter sculpture that took my breath away. Who was there, coming out of a shadowy corner of the tent, but Al Franken.

    Not yet giddy with power, but obviously in rut like an Olmstead County buck , his wandering hands zeroed in on my flattened, but still shapely rear end.

    I felt the squeeze, and was paralyzed by fear and revulsion.

    “Mr Franken!”, I shouted, running away in tears.

    Now this monster, this satyr, this beast is in a position of power. I say no!!!! Send him packing back to the hole he came from!

    Edna Olafsson, aged 83, proud Edina resident since 1944