Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has been cut from an upcoming PBS special on David Letterman in the wake of accusations that he groped and forcefully kissed a woman without her consent during an alleged incident in 2006.
Franken was set to appear in PBS’ airing of David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize Monday night, but now footage of the Minnesota lawmaker will reportedly be cut from the final broadcast.
“PBS will air an updated David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize on Monday,” the network said in a statement Sunday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “Sen. Al Franken participated in the event, but will not appear substantially in the PBS program.”
“PBS and WETA, the producing station, felt that the inclusion of Sen. Franken in the broadcast at this time would distract from the show’s purpose as a celebration of American humor,” the statement added. “Every year, this program is edited for both length and content to keep it entertaining and focused on its intended purpose as a celebration of American humor.”
KABC journalist Leeann Tweeden published an essay last week in which she accused Franken of forcefully kissing her without her consent during rehearsal for a skit on a USO tour in 2006. Tweeden claimed that Franken insisted the pair needed to practice the kiss for the skit despite her objection, and when the moment came, she wrote, he “came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”
Tweeden also produced a photograph which appeared to show Franken groping her breasts while she slept on the plane journey home from the tour.
After issuing a brief apology Thursday, Franken followed up with a lengthier apology statement, calling for a Senate ethics investigation into the complaint, and insisting he would cooperate with such an investigation.
“While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences,” Franken said.
“I’m sorry. I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed,” he added.
In addition to Tweeden’s claims, news anchor Melanie Morgan alleged last week that Franken harassed her over the phone until she threatened to involve police. The senator has not publicly addressed Morgan’s claims.
David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize is set to air Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on PBS.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum