After being accused of sexual misconduct, former Senator Al Franken (D–Minn.) has set off on a comedy tour.
His tour was launched in September. Franken, who was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member and writer prior to his election in 2008, isn’t afraid to speak out about former Democratic and Republican colleagues.
Franken was on CBS Mornings on Tuesday to promote his show, and also to weigh in on the power of cancel culture after he was forced from the political arena.
He said, “It was quite a shock when it happened,” in reference to the accusations and his resignation. He said that he was returning to his roots by making this move.
Franken was urged to resign by three dozen of his Democratic colleagues. Nine senators later admitted that their decision was incorrect.
Nate Burleson asked Franken if he believed he was canceled. Franken replied, “I don’t know the vocabulary.” It was a moment in time when everything came together. I believe the nine senators have said exactly what I feel. This is why you should have an ethics investigation, especially in the United States Senate. This is what I requested and was not granted.”
Burleson followed up with Franken and asked him if he thought comedy should be free from “cancel culture critics”.
Satire holds a very significant place. It is meant to provoke. It is meant to spark discussion. Franken stated that you offend often. It’s difficult to know where the line is, and people may have different ideas. Franken stated, “I believe we should be careful and understand the role of satire.”
Franken was forced to resign by fellow Democrats, led by Sen. Kirsten Gilbrand, D.N.Y. This was at the height #MeToo after he was accused of kissing Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour 2006. Franken was also photographed smiling while he pretended to touch Tweeden’s breasts as she slept.
Franken’s public apology was accepted by Tweeden. He was also accused of inappropriate touching by several women.
Gillibrand was the first Democratic senator who called on Franken for his resignation.
One year later, Franken said to Conan O’Brien that he wished he had “due process” in Senate. He resigned before any investigation could be conducted.
Franken said that he felt it was necessary to go through a process. However, he couldn’t stay. It was horrible. There weren’t any good options.
Since then, several of his former Senate colleagues have said that they regretted calling for his resignation. According to The New Yorker magazine, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called it “one the greatest mistakes” in nearly 50 years of service in the Senate.
Franken said to Gayle King, Tony Dokoupil and Burleson, “I’m a forgiving individual.” “I’m grateful. It’s rare to hear nine former senators admit they were wrong about anything. They all know that I was entitled to due process and didn’t get it. They’re very understanding when I speak to them.”
Franken teased that he was open to the possibility of returning to politics in the future.