Tom Brokaw Laments ‘Rush’ to Judgment on Al Franken

Veteran liberal journalists Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell on Thursday lamented the “rush to judgment” that forced Al Franken from the Senate. Despite the fact that eight women have now accused the Democrat of inappropriate or unwanted touching, Tom Brokaw mourned, “… There was on the part of the Democratic Party a determination and kind of a rush, if you will, to have the Senator resign so they didn’t have the burden of trying to defend him.”

Instead of sounding like a supporter of women’s rights, Mitchell turned a skeptical eye to the accusers of the liberal politician: “And Tom, there does seem to be a rush to judgment in this case. But immediately people jump on you and say any kind of harassment is too much to handle.” 

Despite spinning for this particular accused Democrat, Mitchell began the segment by recalling when “we were covering the Clarence Thomas hearings.” She lectured, “I thought it was a turning point. It wasn’t. I was wrong.”

No mention was made of Bill Clinton, of course. 

Mitchell certainly has selective outrage when it comes to men accused of sexual predation. On July 18, 1989, she fawned over “king of the hill” Ted Kennedy who “has earned the respect of his colleagues.” Speaking of the man who left a woman dead at Chappaquiddick, she mythologized, “He inherited the advantage of family and wealth, and the tragic destiny of being the only surviving male.” 

The 77-year-old Brokaw demanded some sort of clarity on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior these days: 

It does not mean that Al Franken wasn’t guilty of abusing his place, especially with the first woman who came forward with whom he was on a UFO [sic] tour. And there was that very damning picture that we saw. But I do think that the Senate and the institutions of governance and those of us in this business as well have to agree to a kind of codification of what is objectionable and how people should be held responsible for it. 

Again, there is visual evidence of Franken groping a sleeping woman. He’s accused of grabbing rear ends and lunging with unwanted kisses. Maybe start there as unacceptable behavior? 

A partial transcript of the December 7 Andrea Mitchell Reports segment is below:   

Andrea Mitchell Reports
12/7/17
12:09

ANDREA MITCHELL: Tom Brokaw joins us in New York. Tom, I recall that late night after we were covering the Clarence Thomas hearings and you and I were wrapping up the coverage, you were anchoring in New York. I was at the Senate after the long day of hearings and you asked me, what had we learned? I thought it was a turning point. It wasn’t. I was wrong. I was wrong then. I was wrong years later after Bob Packwood was forced to quit under threats of expulsion, Senator Bob Packwood, the Republican from Oregon. Is this the cultural change that many men and women have been waiting for? 

TOM BROKAW:  It’s hard to say, Andrea, but you and I have been through a lot of transformative moments in Washington in which we had entered a new era. Plainly, we had not.  they were not. I was so struck by this case particularly because there was on the part of the Democratic Party a determination and kind of a rush, if you will, to have the Senator resign so they didn’t have the burden of trying to defend him as they go forward. But at the same time, there were people who were making accusations against him who did not come forward and identify themselves, and we don’t even know what their objections were. 

It does not mean that Al Franken wasn’t guilty of abusing his place, especially with the first woman who came forward with whom he was on a UFO [sic] tour. And there was that very damning picture that we saw. But I do think that the Senate and the institutions of governance and those of us in this business as well have to agree to a kind of codification of what is objectionable and how people should be held responsible for it. 

When you stop and think about it, as he raised with the Senator Moore case, the senator, candidate Moore case in Alabama, the President of the United States, those are entirely different and unalloyed kinds of charges of abuse. But in Al Franken’s case, there was still enough murkiness that a lot of people could not make up their mind. In fact, he was defended on Fox News last night for his behavior. So we are in a passage that I do think the public deserves to have it codified have it shaped up so we know the standard to which they’re being judged. Finally, I would say, the people who were sent to Washington were left out of this decision. The voters in Minnesota really had no role in it. He was driven out by members of his own party and then by his own conscience. So, there are a lot of stuff we still need to work on here, in my judgment, in our political culture. We are in a transformation, not just in this case, but the kinds of people we elect to office, the man that we have in the Oval Office right now, and an era the likes of which I have not seen before, and neither have you, and few people have been around longer than the two of us, Andrea. 

MITCHELL: And Tom, there does seem to be a rush to judgment in this case. But immediately people jump on you and say any kind of harassment is too much to handle. It is a power relationship that’s been abused. But, again, as you point out, anonymous accusations. It was Newt Gingrich who was defending him on Fox News, which is pretty remarkable given his own history how he had to step down as Speaker in the light of the Clinton impeachment. At the same time, how do you come up with a standard that specifies that this amount of touching is okay? What is the intent? This has become a really difficult workplace —  and beyond the workplace — question for everyone. 

BROKAW: This is not third-degree murder, this is not a stick-up of some kind in which you can clearly identify a crime. This is a subjective judgment about inappropriate behavior — not on the part of the first woman who came forward, and it took her a while to do that, and he also acknowledged that. But at the same time, I do think that the country, and especially the people who sent him to Washington, deserve to have a clearer idea of what is objectionable. And if you will, a system in which people who feel violated can respond very quickly to the violation and bring it to the attention of appropriate people. And that may mean that Congress is going to have to change its own rules and its procedures. He did not get a chance to go before the Senate Ethics Committee because he thought it would detract from his role as a senator. But there has got to be a way you would get the same kind of hearing in the United States Congress that you would if you were a dope peddler in some kind in the United States. There are more well defined procedures for dealing with that than there are for this. 

MITCHELL: Indeed. 

This post originally appeared on NewsBusters

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