Mediaite’s John Ziegler Defends Al Franken in Fiery HLN Debate: ‘We’ve Lost Our Minds!’


Earlier this week, Mediaite columnist John Ziegler wrote a provocative piece defending Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in the wake of the bombshell revelation that Franken forcibly kissed and groped Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour back in 2006. In his column, Ziegler wrote that “it sure seems like [Franken] is getting railroaded” and that much of the issue with the story revolves around context and Tweeden’s current profession. In Ziegler’s view, Tweeden working as a news anchor gives her “clear incentive to exaggerate her story for publicity.”

Ziegler appeared on HLN to debate the Franken controversy and things got more than a little heated and contentious as he repeated his stance in his column. While Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern explained that Democrats are dealing with a reckoning when it comes to sexual misconduct and that they should extend that principle to Franken, Ziegler laughed and smiled, leading host Carol Costello to ask the conservative commentator why he wasn’t buying that.

After bringing up how Democrats reacted in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal with Bill Clinton, they are now throwing Franken “under the bus for literally 1/100th of the same kind of transgression.” Ziegler added that it was “hilarious” that Dems were abandoning Franken over a “stupid, tasteless joke.”

“We have lost our freaking minds over this whole issue!” he exclaimed.

Stern countered that dismissing this as merely a joke is “really underplaying what the allegations are.” The Slate writer further stated that this could represent a “come to Jesus moment” for Democrats to draw a line in the sand and acknowledge that they messed up in the past with Clinton.

Costello pushed Ziegler on the issue of Tweeden forcibly kissing Tweeden during a rehearsal. Ziegler asked her if “we could use our brains for a second” while stating that two months after the incident Franken ran for US Senate and Tweeden remained silent “despite having a platform to do so.”

“You just blamed her!” Costello shot back, causing Ziegler to say he wasn’t and that it was Tweeden’s right not to say anything at the time. He went on to say she lost the credibility of her story when she decided to come forward 11 years later in a politically charged environment and bringing up that Roger Stone tweeted beforehand that it was “coming down the pike.” Ziegler added that Tweeden “works for a conservative, lowly rated, pathetic talk show,” something that Costello reacted to by asking him why that matters.

“I can’t believe liberals have been duped by a conservative talk show in Los Angeles that gets no ratings,” Ziegler responded. “It’s hilarious! We’ve lost our minds.”

A bit later, after Stern noted that women maybe now feel after years and decades comfortable with coming forward, Ziegler shouted out that this “wasn’t rape — this was a rehearsed kiss.” A clearly perturbed Costello interjected, asking him how he would feel if Franken stuck his tongue down Ziegler’s throat. “Then you’d laugh and go haha,” she added.

“it would be terrible, disgusting — I probably would have punched him,” he replied. “And you know what, if he was running for Senate two months later, I would say something about it.”

Well, kudos to you,” Costello answered back. “But you know what, it’s different for women. It is. And if you have a wife and daughter, you go home and ask them.”

Ziegler went on to state he is married with daughters and that his wife feels more strongly than him that the Franken situation is ridiculous.

Watch the clip above, via HLN.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona

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