One of New York’s most high-profile Congressmen, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), has jammed himself in quite a pickle. It all began when he chose to give a perplexing public response when asked if a lewd photo sent to a young woman in Seattle through his Twitter account was of him. His initial statement was, “I’m going to say that I can’t say with certitude it’s me or it’s not.” He followed that up with suggesting that his Twitter account might have been hacked, then gave a rumination about technology’s ability to alter photographic images with the vague remark, “Stuff gets manipulated…”
Would that be stuff as in stuff, or stuff as in junk? Too bad the Congressman didn’t get out in front of this at the beginning and say, “Like many people who believe their computer files to be private, I took a junk shot for the sole amusement of my wife and myself, which inadvertently entered public view. I apologize for this intrusion, and will do everything in my power to ensure that my right to privacy never again infringes on my constituents’ desperate desire to hold their political figures in some measure of esteem. I am terribly sorry.” Believe me, all the public would have heard was the apology. Say hello to New York’s next mayor.
As it is now he just looks wormy. With the current state of Americans’ trust in the people they’ve elected, too many denials equal a confession. Half-denials? Smirky confession. Aside from providing inroads for his political rivals to attack him, the only success Weiner has wrought from this sorry spectacle is the flurry of clever headlines and jokes he has inspired from reporters and late-night talk show hosts. Everyone who’s had a look at the almost banal photo of a bulge inside a pair of gray boxers is unable to resist riding this horsey into the sunset. A Washington Post columnist wrote her piece under the banner “Weiner and the schnitzel factor.” My local paper ran a news article headlined “Weiner grilled, but keeps cool.” Another paper had a cartoon of the Congressman in bed with his wife with her looking under the covers at his crotch and asking “Is that yours?” This is what we in New York need: a politician the whole country can laugh at. We already have one of the worst city public school systems; isn’t that ridicule enough?
Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is having a reluctant ball with this, ricocheting between defending his longtime friend and cracking wise. His first remark was that he and his pal used to go swimming 25 years ago, and in comparison with the photo in question, his friend was way more Anthony and way less weiner. Then again, he reminded his viewers, the Atlantic Ocean is VERY COLD. But on the matter of ‘certitude’ Stewart had this to say: “There are three things in the world of which I have certitude: Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie; O.J. killed those two people; and I know what my erect penis looks like in my own underwear.”
I bet Stewart is ferocious about guarding his social network accounts, what with being the most reliable name in news reporting at the moment, followed by Stephen Colbert. Although “real” news shows are often just as hilarious, the distinction is Stewart and Colbert are supposed to be funny. Nonetheless, the Weiner affair serves as a lesson to all those who confuse using social media with the ability to control it.
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