As one of the show's original writers, Franken and his longtime creative partner Tom Davis played a pivotal role in shaping the earliest incarnation Saturday Night Live, then again in the mid-'80s when many believed the sketch series to be on death's door. In deep during the years where drugs fueled late nights of revelatory comedy writing ("I only did cocaine to stay awake to make sure nobody else did too much cocaine," Franken joked in the acclaimed SNL oral history, Live From New York), the comedian-turned-Senator wrote sketches ranging from political satire to off-kilter character bits (his self-help guru Stuart Smalley was born from his own struggles with sobriety). According to reports, he campaigned to take over the Weekend Update desk in the mid-'90s, and finally left the show after Lorne MIchaels nixed the idea.
Jost's segment cut deep into the well-documented clubhouse culture that bred giants like Franken. "It's pretty hard," the Update host said, "to be like, 'C'mon he didn't know any better -- he was only 55.'" Now Franken's learning the hard way that comedic misbehavior and deep-seated lack of boundaries, can come back to haunt a guy; along with Tweeden's accusations, quotes from a New York Magazine profile of Saturday Night Live, in which Franken makes a joke about drugging and fooling around with journalist Lesley Stahl, are once again making the rounds on political blogs. Jost's commentary suggests that even people in the business want the toxic behavior of harassment-as-humor weeded out from their world.
Franken tried to address the entire swath of issues in his apology:
"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: 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."