Exclusive: In ‘99, Franken Copped to Copping a Feel of Kathie Lee Gifford

‘He said he kissed her and grabbed her ass’

This story is cross-posted at our consumer site, Grabien News. Watch it there – without audiomarks.

Add another alleged groping incident to Al Franken’s growing list of sexual misdeeds. 

The one-time comedian appeared on the Howard Stern Show in 1999, where he bragged about groping Kathie Lee Gifford. 

Later in the show, however, Franken changed his story, and said it was “wrong” he had sexually accosted Gifford. 

“I was talking to Al earlier in the green room, and he was telling me — I was asking him if he ever does, you know, Kathie & Regis, he was telling me how he used to co-host with Kathie Lee,” recounted the show’s executive producer Gary Dell-Abate. “He said he kissed her and grabbed her ass.”

Franken doesn’t deny the telling Dell-Abate he “kissed her and grabbed her ass,” and the conversation then shifts to other topics, including Franken being happily married. 

About 12 minutes later after the first discussion of Kathie Lee, a caller, nicknamed "Big Black," calls in to say that the National Enquirer columnist, Mike Walker, reported six months earlier that Kathy Lee Gifford asked her show's staff to never book Franken as a co-host again, citing his inappropriate touching. The column reportedly stated that Franken "grabbed her ass" after a broadcast. 

"Did you grab Kathie Lee's ass?"

"She grabbed my ass," Franken replied, perhaps joking.

Slightly stammering, Franken then adds, "No, uh, yeah, I think he reported that and he was wrong." 

Franken then changed the topic to asking whether the caller saw the show, sounding pleased when the caller says he thought the show was funny. But later as the conversation continues, Franken denies inappropriately touching Gifford, even as he had reportedly boasted of doing so just hours before to Stern's producer. 

"She was very uncomfortable in that show though" the caller commented. 

"I did not grab her ass" Franken says. "I certainly did not touch her in any way to arouse her or gratify her." 

The audio above contains the two excerpts cited above, merged into one clip. The interview audio was sent anonymously to Grabien Wednesday. 

A rush transcript of the exchange is below:

STERN: “He evidently, is legendary. And he did admit that he was very large. Are you large as well?
FRANKEN: “I really don’t know in comparison to other guys because I never really...”
STERN: “That’s a lie. You don’t look at other guys? Let me see yours.”
FRANKEN: “I have a medical condition and I wasn’t allowed to go in the shower but... “
STERN: “What kind of medical condition would prohibit you...[overtalk]
FRANKEN: “I don’t want to go into it. But I recently saw a porno movie, and I noticed how small the other guy’s penis is.”
STERN: “Are you serious you couldn’t get into the shower because of a medical condition [overtalk]
DELL-ABATE: “You know I was talking to Al earlier and he was telling me and I was asking him if he did Kathie and Regis and he’s actually told me he co-hosted with Kathie.”
STERN: "Oh my God, that had to be quite the experience.”
DELL-ABATE: “He said he kissed her and grabbed her ass.”
STERN: “Is she one of the biggest phonies on the planet? Seriously, how do you stomach.. you’re a satirist. Be honest. She is such a phony. How do you stomach that?”
FRANKEN: “Well, I... don’t know that. I wouldn’t say that she’s such a phony.
STERN: "Are you afraid to say that?”
FRANKEN: “No, I’m not afraid.”
STERN: “Are you afraid, you won’t will never be asked.”
...
STERN: “Big Black, you’re on the air.”
BIG BLACK [caller]: “ .... what happened was, Mike Walker did a story about six months ago, he said Al was going to Kathie Lee’s show — she did get mad — she said, never have Al back on — she got mad that he grabbed her ass and everything — “
STERN: “Did you grab Kathie Lee’s ass?”
FRANKEN: “She grabbed my ass, I think he reported that and he was wrong...”
STERN: “And so she’s not mad at you.”
FRANKEN: “No.”
BIG BLACK [caller]: “After the show. It was a funny show.”
STERN: “Oh, after the show.”
FRANKEN: “You saw the show?”
BIG BLACK [caller]: “I saw it.”
STERN: “And you liked it.”
BIG BLACK [caller]: “Yeah. But I thought she was mad though. Because she wasn’t really handling the humor very well.” 
STERN: “When you grabbed Kathie Lee’s ass, did your finger find a good spot? I had to word it that way, I’m sorry.”
FRANKEN: “I did not.”
BIG BLACK [caller]: “She was very uncomfortable in that show though.”
STERN: “You did not find a sweet spot. You didn’t grab her ass.”
[grunting. overtalk. laughing]
FRANKEN: “I certainly did not touch her in any way to arouse her or gratify her.”
BIG BLACK [caller]: “You should get Mike Walker on the phone because he — “
STERN: “Oh, whatever. I got Al here, I’ll take his word for it. Please — ”
QUIVERS: “Well, Al has already questioned the reliability — “
FRANKEN: “ The veracity — “
STERN: “The veracity of the story. Well, this has been fascinating.”
FRANKEN: “Yeah.”
STERN: “Really, your career has been unbelievable and now we’ve learned everything about you.”

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