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In defense of Kirsten Gillibrand: Liberals can quit harassing her over Al Franken now

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On Monday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat who recently officially announced her long-expected presidential run, sat down with MSNBC's Chris Hayes for a lengthy town hall. Gillibrand talked about meaty policy issues, such as health care and gun control, and explained how she hopes that the Green New Deal can reduce climate change while creating a sustainable economic future for communities impacted by the decline in the auto industry. It was important, relevant information voters should care about when making their 2020 choices.

Naturally, however, much of the post-town hall coverage focused not on these important issues, but on a trivial controversy from December 2017, when Gillbrand was the first of 35 Democratic senators to call on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign after he was accused of sexual misconduct by at least eight women.

"If there are a few Democratic powerful donors who are angry because I stood up for women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, that's on them," Gillibrand said, when Hayes asked about the controversy.

What makes the persistent nature of this controvery doubly frustrating is that Gillibrand did nothing wrong. The person who deserves blame here is Franken, who put his Senate colleagues in this situation. But there is little doubt the media will continue to harp on this question as long as Gillibrand is in the running for 2020.

Why? Not because it's important, but because editors and producers know this idiotic controversy will drive clicks, ratings and ad dollars,. And that's true because some Democratic voters, donors and operatives continue to obsess over this issue, and use bad-faith arguments about "due process" or conspiracy theories to justify what is their transparent belief that Franken should just been allowed to get away with it.

The factual, dry numbers — 35 Democratic senators, eight accusers — may surprise readers. The way this story gets told and retold, both on mainstream and social media, leaves the impression that Gillibrand singlehandedly........

© Salon