The Assassination of Al Franken by the Coward Kirsten Gillibrand, The Myth That Never Dies
Jane Mayer, as you’ve probably seen, has a lengthy argument about Al Franken’s resignation up. I never expected to say this, but…it is bad. Really bad. I think Nate sums up the main issue well:
Those “due process” arguments look WORSE in light of this story. Despite it presenting the evidence in a fairly sympathetic light for Franken, it doesn’t really offer any reason to disbelieve his several accusers, and his own defenses are pretty half-hearted.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 22, 2019
The whole thing is manipulative as hell. All the material on senators recanting their views primes readers to think Franken is the subject of a grave injustice. But the actual reporting gives us little reason to doubt Tweeden and barely mentions the many other accusers.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) July 22, 2019
The key rhetorical strategy is to focus on the accusations of Leeann Tweeden — who Mayer on Twitter designates the “main” accuser — and dismiss the claims of the 7 other women, although the article provides almost nothing to suggest that they aren’t credible. This is particularly tendentious because it was the subsequent allegations that were more important to the other Democratic senators:
But it was those other allegations that made more of an impression on many of the senators who called on him to resign. They didn’t call on him to do so right after Tweeden. They waited, when there were far more.— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) July 22, 2019
Franken is clearly upset that other politicians have gotten away with much worse things, which is both true and irrelevant. Given the political context, he was right to resign, and other Senate Democrats did nothing wrong by calling on him to resign. He wasn’t denied any process he was due; he could have gutted it out and remained in the Senate. One can understand why he personally is bitter about this, but for an otherwise superb journalist to give such a biased take on his story, largely erasing the stories of most of the women involved, is dismaying.