Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an American writer, actor and politician. He was the junior United States Senator from Minnesota from 2008 to 2018, when he resigned following sexual harassment allegations from several women. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, which affiliates with the national Democratic Party. Franken achieved note as a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live from its conception in 1975 before moving to writing and acting in films and television shows. He then became a political commentator, author of five books and host of a nationally syndicated radio show on the Air America Radio network.
- Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.
- Oh, the Things I Know (2002)
- When you encounter seemingly good advice that contradicts other seemingly good advice, ignore them both.
- Oh, the Things I Know (2002)
- The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They're about getting ratings, about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover.
- Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them (2003)
- If you listen to a lot of conservatives, they'll tell you that the difference between them and us is that conservatives love America and liberals hate America. ... They don't get it. We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world.
That's why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well.
- Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (2003)
- What I do is taking what they say and using it against them. What I do is jujitsu.
- Al Franken: God Spoke (2006)
- Some of the same people who were instrumental in the Federalist Society’s effort to change our legal system are now working to help corporations increase their control over the flow of information.
If you control the flow of information, you can control the conversation around important issues. If you can control the conversation, you can change this country. … But we can’t be satisfied with stopping conservatives and their corporate clients from controlling the narrative when it comes to our legal system.
We have to fight back with our own.
In our narrative, the legal system doesn’t exist to help the powerful grow more powerful – it exists to guarantee that every American is entitled to justice
In our narrative, we defend our individual rights and liberties against corporate encroachment just as fiercely as we defend them against government overreach.
- Net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time. Today, a blog can load as fast as the Wall Street Journal — and, if the blog is good, it can get more traffic than any media conglomerate. But if bigger companies can pay for faster, priority Internet access, that blogger no longer has a shot. And these big companies know that when they pay for access, they win. They want preferred treatment on the Internet like the preferred treatment they get in the rest of their lives.
- I've said that net neutrality is the most important free speech issue of our time. It's true. If Republicans have their way, large corporations won't just have the loudest voices in the room. They'll be able to effectively silence everyone else. Every small business they'd prefer not to compete with. Every blogger who publishes something they don't like. We have to stop them.
- The crash of 2008 was driven in no small part by unfair practices in the mortgage industry, which led to many consumers becoming trapped in loans they didn’t understand and couldn’t afford.
- Our laws need to reflect the evolution of technology and the changing expectations of American society. This is why the Constitution is often called a “living” document. But we have a long way to go to get our modern privacy laws in line with modern technology.
- In the United States of America, satire is protected speech, even if the object of the satire doesn’t get it.
- 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. 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. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
For instance, that picture [when Franken appears to grope the breasts of a sleeping Leeann Tweeden, while simultaneously smiling towards the photographer] 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. 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.
- November 2017 statement in response to allegations of sexual harassment and groping made by Leeann Tweeden against Franken.
Quotes about Franken
- Franken didn’t apologize — in fact, he cast doubt on his accusers — and the only regret he expressed was for “having to walk away from this job.” But after a political career premised on exposing the depravity of Republicans, Franken himself stood exposed. For years, he had built his brand on always being in the right. Even as he relinquished his Senate seat, he couldn’t let go of his sense of moral superiority.
- Molly Ball (Dec 9, 2017), on Franken's resignation from the Senate following allegations of sexual harassment or assault from several women, Al Franken Is Not Sorry, Time.com
- The election process and recount in Minnesota have lived up to the state's reputation for organization, transparency, and bipartisanship. The officials have been meticulous and every ruling has been unanimous. While Senator Amy Klobuchar is one of the hardest working members of the United States Senate, Minnesotans deserve their full representation. Once the Minnesota Supreme Court has issued its final ruling in this case, the President and I look forward to working with Mr. Franken on building an economy for the 21st century.
- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in Vice President Biden Issues Statement Following Meeting with Al Franken, The White House, Office of the Vice President (6 May 2009)
- He was between me and the door, and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick, and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right, and I ducked,” the former aide said in an interview. “I was really startled by it, and I just sort of booked it towards the door, and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’
- Heather Caygle (December 6, 2017), quoting a woman who worked with Franken and alleged he sexually harrassed her in 2006; Another woman says Franken tried to forcibly kiss her, Politico.com
- I consider myself to be an old-fashioned liberal. I'm a liberal the way liberals used to be when they were like John F. Kennedy and when they were like Hubert Humphrey. When they were upbeat and enthusiastic and mainstream. I am not a liberal the way liberals are today at least as exemplified by Al Franken and Michael Moore, where they're angry, nasty, closed minded, and not mainstream, but fringe.
- Bernard Goldberg, The Bernard Goldberg Interview RightWingNews.com John Hawkins, 2001. Today's 'Liberals': Close-Minded, Nasty and Fringe Newsmax.com. Bernard Goldberg (October 16, 2003)
- 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37)
- Bernard Goldberg, 2005 book title, Harper ISBN 0060761288
- Al Franken is ready for this job. It is time to get to work, and, Al Franken, there is a desk waiting for you in the Senate.
- I offered Al Franken $50,000 if within one year he could get one percent of the audience in a major market. One percent. A 1.0 share, I offered him $50,000. He didn't even have to bet me. I just offered a straight-cash payout. [...] These [hosts on AirAmerica] are amateurs. [...] Al Franken has no experience in the broadcasting business. None. [...] And he has no business being on the air. At all.
- Tom Leykis, talk radio host, April 14, 2004; after Franken's AirAmerica talk show was pulled off the air in Los Angels and Chicago (the second and third largest US radio markets, respectively) after less than two weeks due to AirAmerica's failure to pay outstanding bills to radio stations. Citing "Liberal radio stations silenced", The Chicago Tribune, 2004-04-14
- MCEVERS: So Leeann Tweeden talked about this today. She even released a picture where Al Franken appears to be placing his hands over her breasts. We should say she's asleep in the photo. She's wearing a Kevlar vest and a helmet. And Al Franken is smiling toward the camera in the shot.
GONYEA: He's kind of mugging for the camera. And that moment you describe there, she didn't even know about it until she got home from the trip and started looking through the pictures that the official photographer had taken. And he gave her and others a disc. So that humiliated her and embarrassed her, she said. But it followed another problem with Franken on the same tour. He'd written a comedy sketch for them to do in front of the troops. She talked about it on KABC radio this morning on the show that she works on. She says Franken wanted to rehearse a kiss that he had written into the script for them. She said no. He kept insisting. She said no again. He insisted more. Finally she said OK.
- Don Gonyea and Kelly McEvers, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken Faces Sexual Assault Allegations From LA Radio Host, All Things Considered, NPR.org; Nov 16, 2017
- I know this photo looks bad, but remember: it also is bad. And sure, this was taken before Franken ran for public office, but this was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school.
- Colin Jost, Weekend Update in reaction to Leeann Tweden's release of a photo wherein Franken appears to be groping her breasts while she was asleep. 
- The most hypocritical thing I've ever seen done to a human being, and then they have enough guts to sit on the floor, watch him give his speech, and go over and hug him? That's hypocrisy at the highest level I've ever seen in my life.
- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin on Senate Democrats who called for Franken's resignation, in "What if Al Franken unresigns?" in The Week (20 December 2017)
- I look forward to working with Senator-elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century.
- U.S. President Barack Obama (30 June 2009). Statement on Senator-Elect Al Franken's Certification as Winner of the 2008 Minnesota Senatorial Race. The White House.
- t looks increasingly likely that at least one member of the United States Senate may owe his seat in the world’s greatest deliberative body not to his charisma or the persuasiveness of his message but to voter fraud.
As the Wall Street Journal's John Fund reports, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken’s narrow, 312-vote victory in 2008 over incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman may have come as the result of people being allowed to vote who, under existing law, shouldn’t have been.
- Peter Roff (July 20, 2010) Al Franken May Have Won His Senate Seat Through Voter Fraud, USNews.com
- When I saw the script [Franken had written for a 2006 USO performance], Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.
On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’ He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.
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.
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.
I felt disgusted and violated.
Not long after, I performed the skit as written, carefully turning my head so he couldn’t kiss me on the lips.
He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.
- Leeann Tweeden (Nov 16, 2017). Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It, KABC.com
- No one saw what happened backstage. I didn’t tell the Sergeant Major of the Army, who was the sponsor of the tour. I didn’t tell our USO rep what happened.
At the time I didn’t want to cause trouble. We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our Holiday tour, I was a professional, and I could take care of myself. I told a few of the others on the tour what Franken had done and they knew how I felt about it.
I tried to let it go, but I was angry.
Other than our dialogue on stage, I never had a voluntary conversation with Al Franken again. I avoided him as much as possible and made sure I was never alone with him again for the rest of the tour.
Franken repaid me with petty insults, including drawing devil horns on at least one of the headshots I was autographing for the troops.
But he didn’t stop there.
The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet.
It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one:
I couldn’t believe it. 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?
- Leeann Tweeden (Nov 16, 2017). Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It, KABC.com
- They spent so much money in his first campaign making him look like a buffoon ... You're with him for five minutes and you see that's not true.
- Senator Franken made the right choice to step down. I applaud him and thank him. He is right that we are having an important conversation right now about the equal treatment of women in every part of our society. We have a long way to go in combatting these problems, but holding everyone to a high standard—including public servants—is an important step down that road.
- Sheldon Whitehouse (Dec 7, 2017), Rhode Island Senator, in response to Franken's resignation after sexual harassment and assault allegations against Franken.