Innocent Franken, Shameless Gillibrand, and the Secret Jussie Smollet of #MeToo

David Levitt
5 min readSep 1, 2019

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has a very detailed report on the successful campaign to exploit the #MeToo movement, and Democrats’ reliable cowardice, to destroy US Senator Al Franken with lies. Though his trusted friends in Congress recklessly joined his enemies to ruin his life, since then there’s also been a hilarious and successful public uprising on his behalf, a swell of recanting by his ashamed abusers, and a first taste of truth and justice.

Of course, the credulous schmucks who joined the liars, Republicans and Fox News operatives were the Democratic leadership Schumer and Pelosi, whose contempt for due process and eagerness to throw progressives under the nearest bus are already legend. (They remain the main force normalizing the president, defying most Democrats and preventing impeachment.) And there’s been a starring role for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who thought it was ideal and on-brand to insist Franken resign without any investigation — though from the beginning many of us saw evidence that Fox News favorite, birther and accuser Leeann Tweeden was lying. Mayer uncovers mountains of it.

To their credit, 7 shame-filled Senators who betrayed Franken apologize in the article. Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp was especially eloquent on Bill Maher last week. She realized her prior eagerness to conform and obey Leadership would become a permanent stain on her, #MeToo and every genuine victim, unless people like her recanted and helped spread the truth.

Most people still don’t know vengeful Sean Hannity’s pal Leeann Tweeden is the fabricating Jussie Smollett of the #MeToo movement.

In telling contrast, Gillibrand and Pelosi are incapable of shame, integrity or learning. Pelosi is silent rather than contrite, while candidate Gillibrand felt no choice but to double down on the signature marketing move of her career. Except when she tried to spin her betrayal of Franken and #MeToo as courage, the internet delivered the most hilarious burns in history — into her paid Facebook ads. For months, each new ad drew an endless stream of passionate people who wanted to express their feelings personally. Thousands of comments with every shade of thoughtful, hilarious, sincerely puzzled, sarcastic, practical, outraged and disgusted, and many creative sick burns. Here’s a glimpse of how her online campaign went:

Kirsten Gillibrand March 22 at 2:01 PM
I knew I was taking a risk when I called on Al Franken to resign. But silence was not an option. Now I’m running for president to stand up for women, and I’m ready to share this vision on the debate stage. …

Gerry Callison That’s a lie: Silence and calls for resignation were not your only two choices.

Mark Baron You are taking a bigger risk by thinking your rush to judgement of Al Franken is a great fund raising tool.

Mike Gordon Your rush to judgment on Senator Franken was a huge mistake. Your snap judgment rewarded a right wing that was seeking some sort of victim and victory. Your candidacy this year is more divisive and unproductive. Go back, be a great senator and maybe you can prove yourself in a few years.

Paul Jeannotte Nice try to spin your behavior. You couldn’t be half the person or Senator Al was.

Shoshana Suzanne Schiller You were taking a risk? This is what your selling point is? Please, go away.

Holly Lynn Getz As I saw elsewhere about you … You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, but dog-gone it, people just don’t like you.

Robert Spina That was you who did that? I just lost interest in your campaign.

John Wilberding You are blacklisted because you are that mean girl in high school that everyone hated.

Judy Alexander So disgusted she is still invoking Al Franken’s name in her campaign ads. Not enough for her to opportunistically cause the political demise of a strong Senate voice and potential opponent for nomination. Now, she thinks using his name to further her own ambition is a good idea? If I were him, I’d send a “cease and desist” letter demanding my name be removed from her campaigning.

Chris McInerney Give up! Glad you’re being blacklisted. How’s everything with your buddies at the NRA and how’s that gun under your bed?

Jonathan Chertok kirsten gillibrand would sell her grandmother to a glue factory if she thought it would help her get the next highest office.

Jennifer Dee There are so many problems with your stand in the issues. You forcing Al Franken to resign is just the tip of the iceberg. Go back and do your job in the senate. The field has more qualified candidates.

Elaine M Wissel & get the hell of of facebook, I’m so tired of looking at someone who doesn’t stand a chance in hell & just keeps begging for money, there are people who really need help & you’re not one of them. Go Away!

Jeff Kennedy I’ll donate as much as Al Franken donates.

Lyn Rach Your problem isn’t Franken. It’s a PATTERN of behavior in which you adopt extreme and simplistic solutions to complex problems. Witness what is happening with your opioid bill. …

Randy Reid There are currently 15 candidates better qualified than you. Please go away.

Craig S. Issod Throwing a comedian who was doing volunteer comedy work…under the Bus…to the detriment of all of us…isn’t always classified as the “right” thing to do. I’m sure The Right loved it.

Matthew Corcoran I’ll keep my dollar — you keep silent. Get a real job. #franken

Jared Manders As long as you are still using Al Franken’s name to try and benefit your campaign, let me just say he’s the reason I will not vote for you. Your rush to judgment was just short of criminal.

Ginny Frobig Perotti I never see any comments supporting you, Senator. Maybe you should judge this situation better than you judged the Franken situation.

Paul Miller Kirsten — You’re pretty much a stalker, based on the last 12 posts you sent me. look. Its over. Go away.

Bill Halldin Time to fire your social media firm for continuing these ads!

— — — — — —

Everyone who respects due process, credible abuse victims and the integrity of #MeToo shunned her presidential run. Last week she pulled out with less than 1%, and I suspect Gillibrand’s career in NY and in national politics is over. Feels like the public delivering justice.

But disturbingly, this is business as usual for the party leadership. Pelosi raced Gillibrand to demand Franken’s resignation in the same news cycle. Schumer gave Franken till 5pm to resign — which Franken knew and knows was wrong — or be pre-emptively ejected from every Senate committee. So the disdainful comments above also reflect what Democratic voters think of Pelosi’s and Schumer’s judgement and leadership — dominated by what Heitkamp calls groupthink, ever unrepentant no matter the cost. They’re the incompetents who helped get the worst president in history elected and are holding him above the law now; it’s just not as easy to hold them to account or get rid of them. So we’ve got a long way to go.

Meanwhile, all hail Jane Mayer of The New Yorker and great journalism! Wouldn’t it be nice if TV, internet or newspapers tried it — so it didn’t arrive years late?



David Levitt

computer, media and political scientist, writer, physicist, pianist, satirist, MIT ScD, Yale BS, augmented reality innovator and CEO of Pantomime Corporation