MSNBC Anchors Don’t Ask Dem Senator About Franken Sexual Assault Allegations


MSNBC anchors Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle did not ask Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) in a Thursday interview about recent allegations levied against fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.).

In the segment prior to the Nelson interview, Velshi and Ruhle reported on the story of radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden accusing Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent.

Tweeden posted her story on the KABC radio station's website on Thursday. She said the events occurred in 2006 when she and Franken were performing on an USO tour for the troops in the Middle East. Tweeden recounted how Franken wanted to practice kissing for a skit while she said it was unnecessary. She stated she eventually felt pressured to give in, and that is when he "aggressively" kissed her.

"He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss," Tweeden said. "I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth."

Tweeden also shared  a picture of Franken groping her breasts when she was asleep on their flight home from the USO tour.

Franken released a statement apologizing to Tweeden in which he said he remembers the skit rehearsal differently and the photo was meant to be a joke.

When the two MSNBC anchors interviewed Nelson, they solely focused on the issue of tax reform and did not ask the Democratic senator to comment on allegations against Franken or the senator's statement. The interview occurred at 11:31 a.m. eastern time and lasted for almost four minutes.

At the end of their program, Velshi and Ruhle again reported the allegations against Franken.

The Washington Free Beacon reached out for comment on why the MSNBC hosts didn't ask the senator about the allegations against his colleague. A MSNBC Spokesperson declined comment.

Transcript of the entire interview is below:

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Joining us now, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. He serves on the Senate Finance Committee. Senator, welcome. We're getting new information today from the Joint Committee on Taxation about the effects of this tax bill. They project that people making $20,000 to $30,000 a year will see their tax increase by 8,000 bucks. Meanwhile, those who make $1 million or more are going to see their tax bill go down by $5,000 a year. And we already know that people at the highest income level, they don't need to put more money into the economy. If anything, they'll probably reinvest it in the markets.

ALI VELSHI: People with the lowest income, if you give them more income, that goes right into the economy. Senator, I think Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) understood that this is big tax cuts for the wealthy and for companies and not for the middle class and lower income people.

BILL NELSON: And if that's not enough, it becomes not just a tax bill, but a health bill by now taking away the financial underpinnings of the Affordable Care Act in order to continue to try to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which they're still on this mission. I thought we got rid of that in the last week of July with John McCain's dramatic vote when he walked up to the recording clerk at 1:30 in the morning and said "no." And then they tried it again in September, and they didn't even bring it to a vote because they found out they didn't have ten Republican senators that would vote with them. And low and behold here, now they're taking the tax bill as an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

VELSHI: And by the way–the corner of the screen right now–you're watching Donald Trump on his way to where senator Bill Nelson is. He's on his way to the Capitol to talk to members of Congress about this tax bill. Senator, have you been able to do anything during the markup? The one advantage of this bill over health care is it's actually a bill. It actually moves through regular order. There are conversations about it. Have you been able to give your Republican colleagues the input that you feel necessary?

NELSON: Well, I and the other Democrats on the committee have clearly talked. We talked about all of the inconsistencies of how this is really tilted to huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and very little, and indeed, tax increases for average hard working families. Look what they did if you think it's regular order. They had all of these amendments, they took all of the Republican amendments, changed the version of the bill night before last, put all of the Republican amendments in the bill, and then are leaving the rest of the markup for us to offer our amendments of which every one of them has been a party line vote thus far. This is not how the Finance Committee is supposed to work in a bipartisan way.

VELSHI: Right. But that of course, Senator, is a comment you can make about a whole bunch of stuff going on in Congress right now. Thank you for your time, sir. Appreciate it. Thank you for your work in trying to get this to be at least a little bit bipartisan if we can get there.

Andrew Kugle   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Andrew Kugle is the assistant social media editor for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2013. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, he worked as a Staff/Press Assistant for South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Andrew is from De Pere, Wisconsin and lives in D.C. His Twitter handle is @AndrewJKugle. You can reach him at

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