Many New York Times readers said they were disappointed, but not shocked, by an allegation that Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, had kissed and groped a radio host against her will in 2006, before Mr. Franken took public office.
Reactions from thousands of readers on The Times’s digital platforms covered a range of views. Mr. Franken’s supporters shared their personal disappointment. Others said he should resign. As word came out that the woman had accepted the senator’s apology, some readers parsed the severity of the allegation against him compared with complaints against other prominent men. Several readers questioned the motives of the accuser, Leeann Tweeden, who is a conservative radio host and an occasional guest on the Fox News Channel.
Responses have been edited for clarity and length.‘I’m disheartened and saddened by these allegations’
“Senator Franken, I’m disheartened and saddened by these allegations and whatever you did that you call comedy. I’ve been a ‘Saturday Night Live’ fan since the beginning and let slide most of the crude sketches. But this is real life. I thought you had a chance at becoming president in 2020. What will you do to fix this mess?”
— Kathy Berken, St. Paul, Minnesota‘It’s not a swamp, it’s a man-made cesspool’
“Phenomenally disappointed to hear about Franken’s reprehensible, disgusting behavior. And yet I find I am not surprised to hear that another member of a group made up predominantly of older white men who are wealthy, powerful and protected by legions of assistants, attorneys and the power of their positions is a petri dish of sexism, misogyny and sexual harassment.
“It’s not a swamp, it’s a man-made cesspool.”
— DCS, NYC‘Al Franken, noooooo!’
“Al Franken, noooooo! I want to believe his explanation of the events, that it was a misunderstanding followed by a joke in poor taste. But history has shown lately that men with even a few accusations like this often have closets deeply packed with skeletons.”
— Robert Collins, on The Times’s Facebook page‘If it’s true, he should resign’
“I like(d) Al Franken. Until I heard about this. If it’s true, he should resign.”
— Deborah Johnson Miranda, on The Times’s Facebook page‘When my wife and I say “me too,” we are referring to truly terrible things’
“I am dismayed at what is now being termed ‘assault’ and how easily we use the word ‘violated.’ I say that as a husband of a woman who was actually assaulted in a violent way last year. She ended up getting drugged, raped and impregnated by a stranger (and yes, we decided on an abortion). As a child, I was molested at 4 to 6 years old many times by entrusted family friends. When my wife and I say ‘me too,’ we are referring to truly terrible things that have happened to us by people who have, to our knowledge, escaped any justice for their actions.
“We as a society need to have a conversation, great. But I no longer feel that we are having a conversation about sexual violence, but rather, about how crass many men are.”
— Jim, Tulsa, Okla.‘Not cool, but not really groping, either’
“What Franken did was grossly inappropriate. But groping her breasts? In the photo she’s wearing a bulletproof vest. I don’t believe the intention was to grab breasts, but to make a really stupid joke. Not cool, but not really groping, either.”
— Maureen McKoen Canter, on The Times’s Facebook page‘We need to have a conversation about what constitutes “sexual assault”’
“I am not going to let Franken off just because he’s a Democrat. But in our criminal justice system we realize there are differences between misdemeanors, felonies, second-degree vs. first-degree murder, etc.
“This witch hunt where anyone that has made an off-color joke at any point in their life needs to be purged is ridiculous. Saying that we should hunt for the head of Al Franken is crazy. If other women come forward, then I’ll change my tune. But not every man (or woman) who flirts, makes an off-color joke or makes a pass at someone else (especially when they gracefully take no for an answer) is guilty of sexual assault.”
— Druidshift, via Reddit‘Let’s keep in mind where this is coming from’
“I’m not going to condone Al Franken’s behavior, but let’s keep in mind where this is coming from. Leeann Tweeden is a politically conservative newscaster who’s appeared on Fox News with Sean Hannity and on Redeye. Before she became a newscaster she was a model, doing promotional work for Hooters, Venus International and Frederick’s of Hollywood. Fox News and right-wing Republicans have never shown any true concern for a woman’s right to be free from harassment such as this. They’re simply exploiting a real concern to attack liberal and progressive leaders.”
— AEK in NYC‘A pervasive culture of disrespect and entitlement toward women’
“Men. Are you finally waking up? Are you finally starting to see that there is a pervasive culture of disrespect and entitlement toward women by men of all political persuasions, socioeconomic statuses and education levels? It is time for American men to take a long look in the mirror and adjust their actions.”
— Kathy Hutchinson, on the Times’s Facebook page