‘Shadows’ of Conspiracy? Smerconish Says He’s ‘Not Convinced’ Franken Groped Tweeden

So-called independent talk radio host and CNN host Michael Smerconish made a fool of himself on Thursday afternoon’s CNN Newsroom, arguing that he’s “not convinced” Democratic Senator Al Franken (Minn.) actually groped KABC Radio host Leeann Tweeden because “[t]here are shadows behind his fingers.”

Host Brooke Baldwin led Smerconish to this baffling statement by mentioning how Ari Fleischer tweeted that he didn’t think Franken should have offered his resignation on Thursday since the allegations were, in his mind, less serious than those against Republican Roy Moore and Democrat John Conyers.

Smerconish stated that the Moore case is far more believable with all of the interviews with the women in question and physical evidence. As for Franken, his situation “has always been complicated to me because that photograph was in incredibly poor taste.”

 

 

The Philadelphia host iterated that he’s “not defending” Franken’s behavior on the 2006 USO tour, “but that is not something for which someone resigns from the United States Senate.” He then channeled MSNBC host Kasie Hunt in arguing that Franken didn’t actually grope Tweeden:

I mean, I've parsed that picture. There are shadows behind his fingers. I'm not convinced he was touching her Kevlar vest. He was posing or he wouldn't have been looking at the camera with that blank-eating grin on his face. Was it in poor taste? It was in poor taste. Resignable offense? No. So I get beyond the picture and now I want to know about these other incidents and, look, he's not admitting to anything. It kind of begs the question, why isn't he staying and fighting? 

Baldwin flipped out on Clay Travis when he said “boobs,” but the CNN host didn’t bat an eye when it came to this astounding assertion from Smerconish. 

Before staying with the circumstances of Franken’s resignation, she answered Smerconish’s question about Franken staying to fight: “[M]aybe one of the reasons was lots and lots of his colleagues yesterday all came together very, very quickly and said you got to go basically, you've got to step down and resign.”

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Here’s the relevant transcript from December 7's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
December 7, 2017
3:09 p.m. Eastern

BROOKE BALDWIN: I don't know if you saw Ari Fleischer tweet. Ari Fleischer, Bush 43 White House spokesperson, he tweeted it after his speech and he said this: “Franken should not have resigned. His fate should have been left 2the people of MN. Moore, who had sexual contact w a 14-yr old, should drop out. Conyers, who hit on his employees, should have resigned. Franken is a creep who acted inappropriatly [sic], but his facts are different.” Would you agree? 

MICHAEL SMERCONISH: I think that — I yearn for consistently in each one of these and I'm mindful of the fact if you come down more defensive of one than the other, then people say, oh, it's because your politics are aligned that way. Each of them needs to be evaluated case-by-case basis. I mean, in my mind, Roy Moore has shown a propensity, an interest in young girls. You know, and I find Lee Corfman, the 14-year-old, to be entirely credible. Now, can I prove that? No. Above I think I can prove through the evidence of that case that he was with 16-year-olds at a time when he was in his mid-30s. How much of a leap of faith is it to think a guy in his '30s taking an interest in women in their teens included a 14-year-old and acted inappropriately? I don't think that's a leap of faith. The Frank — the Franken case has always been complicated to me because that photograph was in incredibly poor taste. I am not defending it, but that is not something for which someone resigns from the United States Senate. I mean, I've parsed that picture. There are shadows behind his fingers. I'm not convinced he was touching her Kevlar vest. He was posing or he wouldn't have been looking at the camera with that blank-eating grin on his face. Was it in poor taste? It was in poor taste. Resignable offense? No. So I get beyond the picture and now I want to know about these other incidents and, look, he's not admitting to anything. It kind of begs the question, why isn't he staying and fighting? 

BALDWIN: So, well maybe one of the reasons was lots and lots of his colleagues yesterday all came together very, very quickly and said you got to go basically, you've got to step down and resign. Here's my question, because the over arching question today has been Democrats and are they taking the moral high ground or is it a political high ground? Because, Michael, you have the Governor of Minnesota, Democrat, now picks a temporary replacement. So if it's a Republican, there is a good chance that the Democrats would not have pushed so hard. So has everyone debating, right? Did they do this for moral reasons or did they do this because of politics? 

SMERCONISH: Hey, the folks in Alabama have television sets. They’re paying close attention to Al Franken today like the other 49 states. Part of me wonders if this was a power play to put focus on voters on Tuesday like hey the Democrats have cleaned house. What are you now going to do with your Roy Moore predicament? If there weren't an election on Tuesday, I'm not convinced we would have seen this outcome today and I think once Kirsten Gillibrand started this down the track, all of a sudden, the pressure — the pressure mounted, particularly on Democrat female senators to do likewise. No one wanted to be the odd person out and now, what are the guys going to do? What's Chuck Schumer going to do when Gillibrand and company are all saying they have to go? Well, now they say he’s to go. So Franken didn't really have much of a choice but head for the door. I'm just not sure it's closed. 

BALDWIN: Wow, Michael Smerconish. I know Kerri Miller has been listening to this conversation. Michael, thank you so much for that.


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