The Denome’s Advocate: A picture speaks a thousand words less than a recording

By Thomas Denome

Last week, at a journalism convention in Dallas, I heard in a seminar that a picture speaks a thousand words, but a long article should not necessarily be associated with good writing. At some point over the weekend, I connected this in my head to the current situation with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and President Trump’s criticism of him.

Franken was last week accused of sexual harassment and groping a radio show host and model in 2006. As proof, the model produced a picture of Franken with his hands over her chest while she was sleeping, with a mischievous smile on his face.

Franken soon apologized, accepted responsibility and was humbled for the time being. People on both the right and left have called for his resignation, either for the act itself or to prove Democrats are not hypocrites in the face of the sexual harassment scandal facing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

And of course, Trump jumped on Franken as well, saying on Twitter, “The Al Frankenstien (sic) picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words.”

Trump is not wrong; the picture has already been damaging to Franken’s career and may have lost the Democrats a solid presidential candidate. But Trump would do well to remember that for all the words the Franken picture figuratively speaks, he actually said this out loud:

And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab ’em by the p—-. You can do anything.”

Any weight that picture may have is lighter than the impact of those 24 words. The picture of Franken was taken while on a comedy tour, before Franken was a senator. Immature and disgusting as it may be, it was meant to be less an act of humiliating or degrading women and more of a joke.

Trump, on the other hand, said the aforementioned remarks in 2005, in conversation with Billy Bush, the host of “Access Hollywood.” Among the other things he spoke of doing on tape were trying to sleep with a married woman. At other points in time, Trump has bragged about entering the locker rooms of teenage girls while they are getting dressed.

Additionally, consider the other allegations against Franken and Trump. On Monday morning, a second woman came forward and said that Franken had groped her at one point in 2010. Conversely, Trump has been accused by 12 different women of some form or another of sexual harassment. One of those claims was that Trump raped a girl when she was a teenager.

And lastly, consider their responses to being accused. Franken apologized within hours of being confronted with the allegations. Trump has still not apologized and has even embraced his sexist image, to some extent. He won the presidential election only a month after his lewd comments surfaced.

I’m not going to defend Franke. In fact, I still believe he should resign; his actions are exactly what Democrats have been trying to say they disavow over the past year. However, Trump should have been gone a long time ago. And while Franken may go back to Minnesota in disgrace, Trump’s new home should be either a federal prison or a Trump Tower penthouse, with his name on the list of nationally recognized sex offenders.


Follow Thomas Denome on Twitter at @thomas_denome