Al Frankenstein just can’t catch a break.
Yesterday, a second woman came forward to accuse the Democratic Minnesota senator of groping her at a state fair back in 2010. Several of her family members who were present when the incident occurred corroborated her story in interviews with CNN. Reporters from the cable news channel even found references to the assault on the victim’s Facebook page.
Now, the New York Post has published never-before-seen photos of Franken groping media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington. The photos were taken for an unnamed magazine back in 2000.
One photo shows Franken grabbing the media mogul’s buttocks as they pose back to back…
…An even more shocking photo shows Franken grabbing Huffington’s breasts in a bear hug.
Witnesses told the Post that Franken couched his actions as just "clowning around."
“Franken was clowning around, but it really isn’t funny,” said a source from the shoot. “That’s his tactic, pretend like it’s all a big joke. Arianna was pushing his hands away. He was groping her. There was some fun attached to it, but she wasn’t enjoying it. She definitely told him to stop and pushed him away."
Still, Franken persisted, according to the witness.
“Franken stood there with his hand on her bottom for a long time, because there are numerous frames, each taken seconds apart, and his hand was there the whole time — his hand wasn’t just there for a quick moment,” the source said.
Huffington, for her part, defended Franken and said the groping was a nod to a sketch they’d done in the mid-1990s called “Strange Bedfellows."
“The notion that there was anything inappropriate in this photo shoot is truly absurd,” she said in a statement to The Post.
“Al and I did a comedic sketch for Bill Maher’s ‘Politically Incorrect’ called ‘Strange Bedfellows,’ in which the whole point, as the name makes clear, was that we were doing political commentary from bed. This shoot was looking back at the sketch, and we were obviously hamming it up for comedic effect.
Huffington insisted that she, Franken and Franken’s wife have been friends since before she founded the Huffington Post.
“I’ve been great friends with Al and his wife Franni for over 20 years and there has never been anything remotely inappropriate in our interactions."
In fact, Huffington — the co-founder of The Huffington Post and CEO of wellness company Thrive Global — has previously credited their in-bed interviews as having made her career.
“[Franken] once gave me a picture of himself that said, ‘I made you,’ — and in many ways he did,” she said during a 2014 book launch, The Hill reported at the time. “The biggest thing I did in my career was in 1996, when I went to bed with [Franken] for a comedy bit called ‘Strange Bedfellows.’ "
The segment featured both in pajamas. It once ended in a pillow fight.
“Good evening. I’m the beautiful but evil Arianna Huffington, in bed with the talented but smug Al Franken,” she said introducing one conversation.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time in recent memory where Huffington – an outspoken feminist – stood up for men accused of mistreating or demeaning women. Huffington famously joined Uber’s board to oversee an investigation into its workplace culture and help rehabilitate former CEO Travis Kalanick’s image.
“Going forward there can be no room at Uber for brilliant jerks,” the high-flying 67-year-old media exec was reported to have said in a recent conference call.
But she has also been accused of turning a blind eye to sexual-harassment at The Huffington Post - by relocating one of her most trusted lieutenants to India in 2014, following allegations against him, according to a recent Gizmodo report.
Huffington declined to comment to the tech blog.
Franken is no longer the only high-profile Democrat to be accused of sexual harassment in recent weeks. Longtime Congressman John Conyers reportedly settled sexual harassment complaints with his staff with money from his office budget, Buzzfeed reported late last night.
And of course, four more women have come forward to accuse former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault.
Franken is now facing an ethics investigation.
But at least there’s one group that still backs the former SNL writer...
36 women who worked with Al Franken on SNL have signed a letter of support...I would not be surprised if this has a chilling effect on women speaking out. It was shameful when Fox News hosts did this for Roger Ailes and this letter, at this time, is highly inappropriate. pic.twitter.com/qhuD6MDtpS— Yashar Ali ???? (@yashar) November 21, 2017