8:32am PT by Hilary Lewis
'SNL' Relies on "Weekend Update" to Go After Al Franken
Former Saturday Night Live star turned Minnesota senator Al Franken was accused this week of groping a TV host and kissing her without her consent.
While the daily late-night talk shows were quick to go after him, SNL only joked about the claims against its former castmember during the show's "Weekend Update" segment, avoiding the news elsewhere on this weekend's installment of the NBC sketch show, which was hosted by Chance the Rapper.
"Weekend Update" co-host Colin Jost kicked off the segment by mentioning that this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving.
"There's so much to be thankful for this year, unless you're a human woman," he said as a collage appeared over his right shoulder of six high-profile men accused of sexual harassment and assault: Franken, Bill Cosby, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., President Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein.
Drilling down on Franken, Jost recapped the allegations made by radio host Leann Tweeden, who claimed that Franken, in a picture she posted and that appeared over Jost's shoulder during the segment, groped her breasts while she was sleeping on their flight back from a USO tour in 2006.
"I know this photo looks bad, but remember, it also is bad," Jost said. "And sure, this was taken before Franken ran for office, but it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school. It's pretty hard to be, like, 'Oh, come on, he didn't know any better, he was only 55.'"
As for Tweeden's claim that Franken forced her to kiss him as part of a rehearsal for a comedy sketch they performed for the troops, Jost went after the "comedy sketch" part of that story.
"Come on, man. Didn't the troops in Afghanistan have it hard enough without having to sit through sketch comedy?," he asked. "I mean, people can barely stay up to watch sketches after 'Weekend Update.'"
Franken has apologized twice and called for an ethics investigation of his conduct. He said there was "no excuse" for the picture, which makes him "feel disgusted with myself. It's completely inappropriate."
Franken also expressed his respect for women and how the many allegations against high-profile figures over the past six weeks have forced him and other men to re-examine their own behavior.
"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive," Franken said. "While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences."
Back on "Update," co-host Michael Che commented on how President Trump went after Franken on Twitter but has stayed mostly silent on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who hass been accused of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens.
Che argued that Moore is "accused of way worse … but Franken is a liberal and Trump and Moore are conservatives. And in this country, everyone has to pick a side, except for me. I think they're all bitches."
After another joke about Moore, Jost made a quip about another Hollywood figure accused of sexual assault, Jeremy Piven, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and has denied all of the claims.
"The allegations were revealed in the shocking documentary, Entourage," Jost joked of the HBO series and film.
SNL was criticized for not commenting on the first batch of harassment claims against disgraced movie mogul Weinstein during the weekend right after news of his alleged behavior broke. But since then, the show has regularly gone after him and other high-profile men accused of sexual harassment and assault in his wake, including Kevin Spacey, C.K. and Moore.