Leeann Tweeden claims she called out Sen. Al Franken for sexual harassment as an act of conscience to help other women, but she also took steps to get maximum publicity by tipping off conservative media in an orchestrated campaign before going public.
The revelation was made, perhaps inadvertently, by Doug McIntyre, a conservative columnist for The Los Angeles Daily News.
McIntyre is also Tweeden’s colleague on Los Angeles radio station KABC, where he hosts his own conservative radio talk show.
He describes Tweeden as “my news anchor and friend.”
Tweeden’s allegations boil down to two incidents during a 2006 USO tour in Iraq.
She claims Franken cornered her in a “private backstage area” and insisted on rehearsing a skit scene involving a kiss. When he bussed her, she claims he held her by the back of the head and “forced” his tongue into her mouth.
Her second claim is that Franken posed in a gag photo reaching for her breasts while she was asleep on an Air Force plane. She says she discovered the photo on a souvenir disc of images from the tour.
Since making the claims, her principal allegations have been challenged and a some of her other statements have proven to be untrue.
Tweeden has faced a different level of scrutiny because of her ties to hard-right commentator Sean Hannity and her own unabashed support of President Trump.
On that point McIntyre added this; (Full disclosure: Leeann is friends with Hannity and for a number of years KABC carried his radio show.)
The timing of the allegations has also raised eyebrows. She went public amid a separate controversy involving Roy Moore.
Nine women have come forward and accused the Alabama Republican Senate candidate of child molestation, sexual assault and sexual harassment, casting a shadow over his election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat.
The stakes go beyond Alabama. If Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, wins the race, the Republican Senate majority will dwindle to one vote.
With three moderate Republicans in the Senate, the Democrats would have considerably more influence on key issues like immigration, tax reform and healthcare.
If Franken stays in office, Tweeden’s allegations give Republicans an argument to seat Moore–provided he wins–even though his actions are far more egregious.
McIntyre charges that Tweeden has become the victim of “slut-shaming” and “the center of political conspiracy theories dismissing her story as a Right-Wing attack on Senator Franken to distract from Roy Moore’s troubles. None of which are true.”
Yet, while Tweeden claims her motives for going public were purely altruistic, McIntyre reveals she took steps to organize a media campaign to ensure maximum exposure for her prior to going public.
“I personally called Jake Tapper at 2:30 p.m. last Wednesday to give him a heads up on the story,” he writes.
The call was more than 24 hours before Tweeden’s news conference on Thursday.
At 5 p.m. I called my boss at the L.A. Daily News while my producer called our local news partners, KNBC 4, as well as Lauren Sivan at FOX 11.
“Sivan is not only a friend but has been generous in helping prepare Leeann for what was about to come her way.”
“KABC’s Program Director, Drew Hayes, sent the story to Matt Drudge five minutes before we went on the air,” he revealed.
Drudge operates a widely read, right-slanted news web site popular among conservatives.
“We also sent links to Leeann’s written account and the infamous photograph to Senator Franken’s office prior to our first broadcast,” he added.
Despite all that, McIntyre says the moves were “our best efforts to keep the story secret.”
But hey, “people start talking,” he writes.
McIntyre’s explanation leads up to one of the biggest questions about Tweeden’s motives. Trump operative and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone was crowing about the story on Twitter hours before Tweeden went public.
“Somehow, the notoriously slimy Roger Stone found out we were doing the Franken story and leaked it to FOX News host Sean Hannity,” McIntyre asserts.
McIntyre attributes Stone’s involvement to being a “master at sniffing out dirt.”
If McIntyre was hoping to help Tweeden’s cause, he did just the opposite.
Setting in motion a media campaign to maximize Tweeden’s exposure before she went public, only adds fuel to the fire that it was an organized hit job.
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