Thursday marked Trevor Noah’s final episode hosting The Daily Show, and it’s truly the end of a roughly 7.5-year era. His delightful impressions of deeply stupid American politicians will be dearly missed. Deadline now reports that as the search for Noah’s permanent replacement continues for the next year or so, the show is set to feature a slate of guest hosts including Chelsea Handler, Kal Penn, Sarah Silverman, Leslie Jones, Wanda Sykes, Hasan Minhaj, and, most controversially, Al Franken, the former Democratic senator from Minnesota.
As you’ll recall, Franken, the former writer and cast member of Saturday Night Live who was elected to the Senate in 2008, resigned at the beginning of 2018 in the face of several allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. Eight different women, including four who came forward anonymously, accused Franken of groping and forcibly kissing them throughout the 2000s. Franken denied some of the allegations but acknowledged and apologized for others. (Comedy Central did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Jezebel about its decision to select Franken as a Daily Show guest host.)
Despite the allegations, Franken’s removal was controversial among his progressive allies, pundits, Democratic operatives, and certainly his fellow Senate Democrats. In a 2019 New Yorker article, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called supporting Franken’s removal “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made.” Senators Angus King (I-ME), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) as well as former Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) made similar comments, calling Franken’s removal and the circumstances around it a mistake. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) also expressed regret that Franken resigned before an investigation from the Senate Ethics Committee moved forward.
Of course, others have pointed out that Franken would have been a massive liability during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—also very publicly accused of sexual assault—which took place within months of Franken’s resignation. And, of course, the fact that eight different women saying a famous, powerful man groped them, isn’t exactly insignificant.
Nonetheless, among many of Franken’s former Democratic colleagues and liberal-leaning audiences writ large, Franken has remained decently popular—arguably further evidence that “cancel culture” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It isn’t yet clear when he’ll assume guest-hosting duties at The Daily Show, but even before this gig, Franken has been hosting The Al Franken Podcast since January and, in the last several months, has appeared as a frequent guest commentator on CNN. In August, he stood in as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live. So, The Daily Show is hardly the controversial former senator’s first comeback.
As Democrats and pundits continue to internally squabble about whether Franken should or shouldn’t have resigned, and whether his resignation amounted to “MeToo overreach,” or vital for Democrats to hold the moral high ground, the senator has clearly landed on his feet. I’m already bracing myself for the inevitably exhausting discourse that will arise from his forthcoming Daily Show stint.
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