I've been a fan of Al Franken for decades. I first became aware of him through his work on SNL in the 90s, and his Stuart Smalley character. I soon learned that he was a writer there and was part of other amazing work I'd enjoyed.
Then, in the early 2000s, I read "Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them", Franken's second political book. In it, Al Franken took apart the narrative about Democrats and the nation in general that was being popularized by O'Reilly.
I was overjoyed when I heard about Air America, Al Franken's effort to make a radio network to compete with conservative talk radio. I listened and I was a paid subscriber, regularly listening to podcasts for several shows the network produced.
When Franken wrote his latest book "Giant of the Senate", I bought the audiobook and listened. Franken's politics are only slightly to the right of my own and I admire the way he took on the issues. He would research the topics he was involved in, make his point known, be forceful and direct, while respectful of the office.
So when the first allegation came out about the inappropriate photo, I was skeptical. He'd mentioned the idea of a "dehumorizer" in his book- how things he'd done for comedy effect had been misused by his political opponents. And I was impressed at how Franken took ownership of what he'd done, apologized, and was openly seeking an investigation in order to clear his name.
When another two women came out against Franken, their stories were odd- he'd pinched them at a political rally? Why? What would that gain him? Certainly not their vote! And they both seemed connected with the Republican party in one way or another, as was the original accuser.
Today, upon hearing about Democrats asking for his resignation, I was angry. "Don't they see it's politically motivated?!", I thought. "They're throwing him under the bus for his left-wing political views!"
And then I froze. I realized I was making the same mistake that so many of us make, not only in politics but in the scene. "They're such a good teacher/top/dominant/event organizer." or "They made me feel so comfortable/heard/safe/understood, they can't possibly be guilty!" as we turn a critical eye towards the accusers.
I don't know if the accusations against Franken are true. I don't want them to be true, and there may never be a definitive answer. But I realize that I'm not immune to forces that make me not want to believe.
I don't think any of us are immune, whether that be about someone we admire, or someone we've had in our classrooms, or even our homes. We all have the potential for bias, and we all need to accept that.