Amid the flood of sexual assault allegations coming from Hollywood and other industries this past month are mounting accusations of misconduct by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
Comedian Rob Schneider threw his tweets into the national conversation last week, shortly after radio host Leeann Tweeden came forward with her story that Franken had kissed and groped her without her consent during a USO tour.
Since then, other women have shared similar stories about their encounters with the comedian-turned-politician. On Wednesday, two more women told HuffPost that Franken had inappropriately touched them while posing for photos.
While Schneider expresses no fondness for his fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum, he doesn’t think Franken should face the same fallout as some of the other serial gropers-and-worse now being exposed.
“Al Franken may be a jerk, he may have been unfunny, he may be even an asshole, but he is not a sexual predator at all,” Schneider told HuffPost during a phone conversation before the latest accusations.
“He’s not Charlie Rose in any way, shape or form,” Schneider added. “He is not Harvey Weinstein. He is not Kevin Spacey. He is not Brett Ratner. These people are offensive and deserve the punishment that they get.”
After calling Franken “a jerk” again, Schneider added, “Just because I disagree with him on some political issues doesn’t mean I’m going to attack him and create something that isn’t.”
Schneider’s thoughts echo those of TV show host Bill Maher, who spoke about the Franken controversy earlier this month. While the senator deserved any condemnation he received, Maher said, he shouldn’t be “lumped in” with other men who have more extreme allegations leveled against them — including the president.
“Trump called his accusers liars, threatened to sue them, did long riffs at his rallies where he’d say they were too ugly for him to assault,” said Maher.
Schneider is glad that the issue of sexual harassment, in Hollywood and elsewhere, is being brought to the forefront.
“It’s great that this issue is coming out,” he said. “It’s about time. It’s in every industry. It’s in every workplace. There’s sexual harassment at Starbucks.”
But the “Hot Chick” star said, “I think it’s equally important that it does not become an issue where people are just attacked. ... I don’t think you should destroy somebody’s career over it.”
Thirty-six women who worked with Franken on “SNL” released a statement last week calling the senator’s actions “stupid and foolish,” but saying that he had always treated them “with the utmost respect and regard.”