WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's comments about sexual harassment allegations in her party's own ranks touched off a fierce blowback not only from Republicans, but also from progressives, who said they feared it muddled the Democrats' message on misconduct by putting politics ahead of protecting women. In an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Pelosi, D-Calif., offered supportive words for Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who has been accused of sexually harassing former members of his congressional staff and who reached a taxpayer-funded settlement with one accuser who said she was fired for rejecting his advances. Pelosi praised Conyers, who has denied the allegations, as an "icon," questioned the identity of his accusers and declined to call for his resignation — all within moments of having hailed the "zero tolerance" movement against sexual misconduct as "transformative ... so wholesome, so refreshing, so different." Pelosi's comments were criticized as tone-deaf and a bad flub — one that diluted the message that Democrats want to be sending on sexual misconduct, particularly in light of Roy Moore's Senate campaign in Alabama and President Donald Trump's support for him. "I'm trying to think of a political interview in recent history that's been as damaging to a politician, simply because she was so unprepared and could not answer questions about a huge crisis that is sweeping across the nation and so many industries, not just politics," said Elise Jordan, a Republican strategist and MSNBC analyst. "I think that Democrats on Capitol Hill are underestimating the movement that's happening right now and the tenor of the nation when it comes to zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual assault. It's another example of Washington protecting their own — they're protecting the boys who are in the club," Jordan added. "It's about the ties of the club, the bonds of the club, and no one will defy that even when it's a question of morality and standards from the party that ostensibly says they support women." As Democrats also wrestle with groping allegations against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Pelosi's remarks raised questions about the