An open letter signed by 36 ‘SNL women’ defending their former colleague Al Franken over sexual misconduct allegations is being met with furious backlash.
The letter, which was released on Tuesday, was signed by dozens of former script writers, production assistants and cast members including actresses Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman.
They worked with Franken on the comedy show in the 1970s, 80s and 90s before he went into politics.
In their defense of him, they said he was an ‘honorable public servant’ and ‘dedicated family man’ who had never treated any of them inappropriately.
The women acknowledged his misconduct towards Leeann Tweeden, a former model who he was pictured groping as she slept in a widely circulated photograph from 2006, and described it as ‘foolish’.
They acknowledged his apology to Tweeden, ignored other accusations made by a second woman who claims Franken groped her years later, and said they wished the Minnesota Senator ‘support’ over the holidays.
None of SNL’s more modern female stars including Leslie Jones, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon and Tina Fey, put their names to the letter.
The show has not commented on it or on the backlash which it has received.
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Thirty-six female SNL writers signed this letter to support Al Franken as he faces ongoing accusations of sexual misconduct
Franken was one of the show’s founding writers and he appeared in its segments regularly until pursuing a political career in the 2000s. He is pictured on SNL in 1999
‘We feel compelled to stand up for Al Franken, whom we have all had the pleasure of working with over the years on SNL,’ the letter, which was published by NBC, the network which broadcasts the show, reads.
‘In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer and an honorable public servant.
‘That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard,’ it continued.
The only two people listed on the letter who still work on the show are photographer Mary Ellen Matthews, Cristina McGinniss, Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video assistant, and script coordinator Claire Shirley.
Critics slammed it online and labeled the women ‘hypocrites’.
‘Ted Bundy was well liked by his coworkers too,’ said one commentator.
‘Congrats on this harmful, distracting, useless statement. It’s LITERALLY “family men,” “comedians,” & “honorable public servants” being revealed as harassers.
‘Progressive men can mistreat women too, and it’s dangerous to imply otherwise,’ said one critic.
Jane Curtin, an original cast member who is seen during a 2015 appearance with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, is among prominent actresses who signed the letter
Curtin is seen above with Franken in November 1979 in one of the first episodes of the show
Laraine Newman, another original cast member, (pictured with Curtin last week) also signed the letter in Franken’s defense
Newman is pictured with Franken in another 1979 episode of the show
Another mused: ‘How is it difficult for grown adults to understand that someone who is nice to you is still capable of harassing or abusing others?’
Franken, who enjoyed a successful comedy career before launching his political ambitions, was part of the show’s original cast and writing team.
Despite the letter from former staff, the show’s current talent did not spare him in this week’s show.
In its Weekend Update segment, host Colin Jost lumped Franken in along with Trump, Alabama senate hopeful Roy Moore, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K, all of whom have been accused of sexual misconduct, assault or rape.
Franken apologized twice last week after Tweeden, who now works as a radio host in California, spoke out about how he treated her as they worked together on the 2006 tour.
She claimed he tormented her for the two-weeks they were together and that the treatment was largely sexually motivated.
Neither Amy Poehler nor Leslie Jones, two of the show’s most prolific current female writers, put their names to the letter
In Saturday’s Weekend Update segment, host Colin Jost made reference to the photograph of Franken groping Leeann Tweeden in 2006 and said he ought to have known better