Gillibrand Blasts New Yorker Report for Largely Ignoring Franken's Other Accusers

'There was really no critical or investigative journalism or reporting on the other seven'

July 23, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) ripped Jane Mayer's sympathetic New Yorker report about former Sen. Al Franken's (D., Minn.) resignation for not properly investigating seven of the eight women who accused him of misconduct.

Gillibrand has taken fire from the left for standing by her call for Franken's resignation in 2017, following eight separate accusations of unwanted kissing and touching against the lawmaker.

The New Yorker article published Monday quoted seven current and former senators who said they regretted joining the charge against him, and it attempted to impeach the credibility of Franken's first accuser Leeann Tweeden, implying it was a right-wing political hit job. It focused heavily on her and devoted comparatively little attention to the seven other women who accused him of misconduct, including one who tried to tell her story before Tweeden came forward.

Asked at a Mic town hall if she regretted her role in Franken stepping down, an animated Gillibrand said no.

"Point one, it only talked about one allegation. It talked about the first one," she said. "What about the seven other allegations? There was really no critical or investigative journalism or reporting on the other seven, and that certainly causes me pause."

She noted two of the accusations came after Franken became a U.S. senator, including one from a congressional staffer. Gillibrand, who has made sexual assault and women's rights cornerstones of her 2020 presidential campaign, said there was "no prize" for holding a powerful man accountable.

When the moderator wondered if she would support Franken if he sought office again if Mayer's reporting "bears true," Gillibrand again noted her investigation focused mainly on the first allegation.

"After the first allegation, did anyone call for him to resign? No. It wasn't until the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth. That is when 45 senators or whatever the number was called on him to resign," she said. "It was eight allegations. Credible allegations."

Franken, she said, had a right to wait for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation rather than step down.

"So blaming a woman for the actions of a man ... I don't know. I don't believe in it, and I don't think it's right," she said.

Asked what double standards she encountered on the campaign trail that male candidates didn't, she interrupted and said, "Answering questions about Al Franken, are you kidding me? Honestly, are you kidding me?"

"Let me ask you: How many senators were asked, ‘Should Al Franken resign? Should Al Franken resign?’ every day for two straight weeks?" she said. "It was the women senators who were asked every day, multiple times a day. Were the make colleagues asked? Absolutely not. So let’s be clear. There is absolutely a double standard. Women are asked to hold accountable their colleagues. The men are not. Who is being held accountable for Al Franken’s decision to resign? Women senators, including me. It’s outrageous. It’s absurd."

Gillibrand said the Democrats wouldn't defeat President Donald Trump in 2020 if the party didn't "value women" more.