WASHINGTON — Sen. Tina Smith made her [bleeping] network television debut Friday morning.
Minnesota’s newly appointed junior senator pulled up a seat on ABC’s The View to talk about Al Franken, porn star Stormy Daniels, blue waves and words you can’t say on daytime TV.
“You came into the position under very unusual circumstances,” co-host Joy Behar said as she introduced Smith, a Democrat who took her seat in January, after Sen. Al Franken resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. “A lot of people like me were upset that Sen. Franken resigned without due process, without any kind of ethics investigation. Do you think that was the right call for him?”
“Al was a champion for Minnesota and he was a champion for progressive issues,” said Smith, to applause from the studio audience. But, she said, “he made the decision that [what] was best for him and his family and Minnesota was to step down. I was asked to step up. And so I find myself here.”
Smith rejected any parallels between Franken and President Donald Trump. An attorney for Stephanie Clifford, the adult film actress who claims to have had a consensual affair with the president, claims that she was threatened with physical harm if she went public.
“Could we just say that no woman should be dealing with being physically threatened, ever?” Smith said.
It was the network television debut for Smith, who weathered several more questions about Franken — a figure most Americans knew from Saturday Night Live and his comedy career long before he entered politics. Her appointment boosted the number
“People didn’t even know who you were when you took over,” co-host Sunny Hostin noted.
That was something Smith learned firsthand during an encounter with one of her new colleagues, a few weeks into the new job.
“It was the night of the State of the Union address and all of the senators gather on the Senate floor,” Smith said. “I’m standing around with [South Carolina Sen.] Lindsey Graham and James Lankford, who’s the senator from Oklahoma, and Lindsey looks up at me and he says, ‘Now are you James Lankford’s wife?’ ”
“ ‘No I’m not,’ ” Smith replied. “ ‘I’m Minnesota’s newest United States senator.’ ”
As the audience laughed, Smith ran afoul of network censors.
“Lindsey, because he’s a great guy, he goes, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I must have my head ...’ ” With that, the audio feed cut off, leaving the audience to lip-read “ — up my ass.’ ”