As women have been coming forward with stories of being sexually harassed and assaulted by men in every industry, acquaintances and colleagues of those men have had to come to terms with their role in these events. Saturday Night Live showed us one way to respond swiftly and publicly. Following the revelation from Leeann Tweeden that former SNL star and current Senator Al Franken groped her during a USO tour in 2006, Weekend Update's Colin Jost straight-up condemned Franken's behavior.
"I know this photo looks bad, but remember: It also is bad," Jost said of the photo, which shows Franken with his hands on Tweeden's breasts while she is apparently asleep. "And, sure, this was taken before he ran for public 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.' "
SNL was also quick to criticize Louis C.K. in last week's episode, which aired days after the New York Times published reports about him trying to force women to watch him masturbate. Beck Bennett's Mike Pence mentioned him by name, and three other jokes alluded to him.
On Thursday night, late night hosts Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah all made jokes — though they're more poignant than funny — at Franken's expense.
"That photo was intended to embarrass her. That’s why he did it while she was asleep," Colbert said, slamming Franken's excuse that the photo was intended to be funny.
While it's good to see comedians are willing to skewer members of their own club, they're not exactly doing it with the same fervor as they have with the Alabama Republican Senate candidate, Judge Roy Moore. Just take a look at the length of Meyers' Franken quip as compared to how many minutes he takes to discuss Moore.
One could argue that the situations aren't the same. Moore stands accused of sexually assaulting or harassing teenagers, while Tweeden was a grown woman. Also, Moore is currently running for office, with the continued support of many in his party. Some have asked for Franken to step down, but that decision isn't currently in the hands of voters.
At the same time, comedians do have to face the fact that they ignored rumors about C.K. for years. Giving the problem within their own ranks just a little more air time wouldn't make up for that, but it would be a better look.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).