Al Franken accuser Leeann Tweeden is facing a storm of suspicion on social media. Internet sleuths are shredding her claims about her interactions with Franken on a 2006 USO Tour in Iraq, including claims a “boob grab” photo has been digitally altered.
The gag photo, which shows Franken reaching for Tweeden’s breasts, while she sleeps in a flak vest on an Air Force jet, is the most damning evidence of Tweeden’s claims.
What’s most puzzling is the fact that the photographer who supposedly took photo has not stepped forward to corroborate or deny Tweeden’s claims. The person remains unidentified.
But there may be a reason for that. Photo experts on social media believe the image was digitally altered. Franken they say was “PhotoShopped” into the image as if he were grabbing at Tweeden.
“Guys, I’m a professional photographer and I need you to look at the extremely bad cut-and-paste job that’s obvious when you look at the edges of Franken’s shadow. Plus, note the sloppy cloning on left. Also, a shadow cast by a flash would never be completely opaque,” wrote Twitter critic erika szostak.
“look closely at how Franken’s hair is so weirdly blackened by that “shadow.” That’s the effect of a bad Photoshop. A drop shadow has been created in Layer Styles.”
“Why is there no highlight from the flash or the light in his glasses? Or for that matter, a shadow from his glasses onto his face that matches the directionality of any light that would give him a bodily shadow at that angle?” the photographer wrote.
“Natural photographic shadows do not have solid lines along the edges. They fade out, even in the case of hard shadows made by camera flash.”
Among other discrepancies, the intense lighting on Franken’s face isn’t the same as the soft lighting on Tweeden’s face. They should be the same if they were in the same shot. There’s also a tell-tale blue area under Franken’s left hand due to a sloppy crop job.
“You will see that the light falls from different directions on the face of both persons. The shadows are not on the same side. This is not possible in real life,” noted one observer.
In Franken’s shadow the light is coming from upper left foreground. In Tweeden’s nose shadow, the light is coming from middle right foreground.
“Judging by the heavy shadows from the flash alone, it appears the plane was dark yet the guy to the right has his sunglasses on. Does he wear them to sleep or was there enough time as they posed the pic for him to grab his shades?” noted one critic.
Country music artist Andy Barr, who plays with Mark Wills can be seen in the photo wearing the sunglasses.
Of note, both Tweeden and Wills are wearing military flak jackets. Tweeden said they were required to wear them. But in the photo, Franken doesn’t have one on.
One observer noted that a close examination of Franken’s right hand shows his pinkie has been cut off by a poor cropping job.
“Don’t trust this photo,” added Kelvino Albanez, whose Twitter handle is @OceanPkwyKid
An Air Force veteran noted that Tweeden is sitting in a military jump seat, not the cushy seats added to planes for VIP guests. Another photo shows those seats.
“Tweeden isn’t strapped in. There’s be no way she could be asleep in a jump seat on an airplane if she was not strapped in. She’d just fall right off, so obviously this photo was staged, and Tweeden must’ve been in on it,” a critic wrote.
“I’ve flown on these aircraft. They would not have been flying in jump seats nor sleeping in them as in the first photo. USAF installs airline seats like these for civilians traveling on cargo aircraft,” wrote another social media observer.
Tweeden claimed that her relations with Franken were strained and cold after he allegedly tried to “forcefully” kiss her. But Barr posted a photo on his blog, showing her and Franken together. Both are smiling.
A television floor director shot a hole in Tweeden’s claim that she and Franken were rehearsing in private when the alleged “kiss” took place, out of sight of anyone else on the tour.
“I can tell you that they also NEVER would have had rehearsal to themselves. Lighting, stage, sound crews would be everywhere,” she wrote.
Indeed, another photo from the trip shows them rehearsing in front of the band and others.
Tweeden’s account of the Tour incident was also called into question.
During the show, Tweeden can be seen grabbing the behind of a band member in a sexually suggestive move and bumping and grinding on soldiers.
In a photo showing her kissing Franken during a rehearsal, Tweeden has her arm around his neck and Franken has his hand on her shoulder, not the back of her head as she claimed.
Nothing in the photo suggests she’s trying to push him away. To the contrary, she is holding him tightly and pressing her body into his.
Tweeden said she didn’t come forward with the allegations sooner because she feared her career, including a stint as a swimsuit model, would lead others to discount her story.
“I felt belittled. I was ashamed. I’ve had to live with this for 11 years,” she said on her radio show. “Somehow it was going to be my fault. It was not going to be worth the fight.”
That’s a common complaint of sexual assault victims, but Tweeden may actually make it harder for victims to come forward, if her charges turned out to be exaggerated or contrived for politically reasons.
Tweeden has worked as a Playboy model, Hooter’s girl and conservative talk show personality. She’s appeared frequently on shows hosted by hard-right commentator Sean Hannity.
Her political connections have raised eyebrows. In addition Trump operative and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone, tipped that Franken was about to get his comeuppance hours before Tweeden went public.
Stone is a vocal critic of Franken’s and has been known to doctor photos.
What’s more, Internet sleuths note that Tweeden’s radio station is owned by conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair is trying to buy Tribune Media which would give it control of dozens of local news markets.
Franken is a vocal critic of the merger and sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has some jurisdiction over the merger.
If Tweeden’s complaints prove to be false or exaggerated, it may also give conservatives ammunition to claim President Trump’s 14 accusers are disingenuous as well.
Franken has apologized to Tweeden and wisely called for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Tweeden will be forced to testify under oath and face possible perjury charges if her legion of Internet sleuths proves correct.
Check out the video below, let us know your thought and follow IM on Twitter for the latest updates on this developing story.
The first video shows one of Franken’s skits with Tweeden. It starts around 9:40 into the clip. The second is a glimpse of her suggestive act.
In the third video, Franken and Tweeden perform a skit in 2003 that’s similar to one she performed on the 2006 tour, countering the claim that he wrote the 2006 script just so he could kiss her. It was part of their long-standing act.
The Al Franken/Leann Tweeden USO Tour Skit. You decide. Does this support Leann's claim? pic.twitter.com/1c4CNR1dqf
— Liddle Covfefe ? of Shade (@PromoteMyCause) November 18, 2017