Yesterday, after discovering that his "Plan A" of "yelling at the media, forever" wasn't going to work, a more humble and forthcoming Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) sat down to be interviewed about the ongoing kick-off-the-summer psuedo-event that is "Weinergate." Actually, he sat down for lots of interviews! You could choose between an interview with Luke Russert or Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. You could catch him on Fox with Bret Baier. If you were lucky -- I mean, "I got struck by lightning twice in the face on the way to Starbucks" lucky -- you could watch him talk with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
As for me, I watched all of them. You should never doubt that you have made better career choices than I have, okay? In all four, Weiner stuck to a set of similar claims, and they were:
1) People make fun of the name "Weiner." (Because it is a slang term for "penis.")
2) He did not send a photo of his wang out on Twitter.
3) Rather, he was "hacked" or "pranked."
4) He has some dudes looking into the matter.
5) He'd rather talk about the debt ceiling.
That was, essentially, the consistent and declarative portion of Weiner's end of the discussion. But, as you might suspect, this didn't so much bring this story to a conclusion as much as it did raise the curtain anew. Why? Well, because there were also many moments during these interviews that were awkward or confusing or otherwise head scratch-inducing. Here are those moments:
An epidemic of illicit crotch shots
WEINER, to Blitzer: "It seems to me that this is what goes on in the internet world, the social media world in 2011 and sometimes this happens. Hundreds and thousands of times, just about every week, people have spam and hacking that goes on."
The internet: It's a wild and woolly place. But outside of Weiner and Brett Favre, we actually haven't had too many of these my-penis-somehow-went-viral moments. I'm not sure that this is the instance where you want to make the "Oh, this happens to everybody" defense. You know, sure. Hacking? It happens. I've had my Twitter account hacked before. Want to know what happened? I got a lot of messages from followers that read, "Hey, Jason, your Twitter got hacked. I know this because I know you would never tweet me this crap."
Bring in the Federales!
BAIER, to Weiner: "We talked to a DOJ computer crimes prosecutor and he said that it would take one call to the FBI, and they would subpoena Twitter and within five minutes you could probably get the IP address that this happened from."
Oh, really? Well, I'll tell you what: if I'm ever in Anthony Weiner's position, I'm going to do that! That sounds like an awesomely effective avenue to begin an investigation. Weiner, however, is going to opt to have people that he hired get to the bottom of the matter. You can, on one hand, see this as a suggestion of confidence: Weiner believes that he can resolve this to everyone's satisfaction. On the other hand, you don't hire investigators and tell them, "Find out if I'm guilty of this thing everyone's talking about," do you?
This statement just lacks credibility.
WEINER, to Blitzer: "I follow you, by the way. Excellent Twitter feed."
I find it hard to believe that Wolf Blitzer has an "excellent" Twitter feed, or even an "adequate" one.
Now is not the time for your trademarked hyperbole, I think.
WEINER, to Russert: "One of the things that goes on on Twitter is that you form networks with other people as a way of getting more followers. And that is something that has been done since time immemorial that is now being criminalized."
Huh? Who's criminalizing it? No one is criminalizing that. For that matter, no one is criminalizing the exchange of crotch shots over Twitter's direct message function. You can totally do that in America!
WEINER, to Baier: "I don't think this is a federal case. I don't think this is the second rising of bin Laden."
I tell you what, if sending a crotch-shot on Twitter was the second rising of bin Laden, it would be a vast improvement over the first rising of bin Laden, where thousands of humans got murdered.
Now is not the moment to put the media on trial.
WEINER, to Blitzer: "Please, I want to ask you, does this person, what did she do, beyond tweet something that she's a follower of mine, you can probably find hundreds of people that did that. I would hope that you would leave these people alone. I mean, come hound me but they didn't do anything wrong for following me on Twitter."
It's true, of course, that all kinds of people have been dragged into this matter, solely because they are part of Weiner's social network, by members of the media and the blogosphere. But in fairness, I'm pretty sure Wolf Blitzer hasn't been a part of this. He's actually doing what Weiner is asking -- hounding him and not random people on Twitter -- so this is a case Weiner should be making to other people.
You're kidding about your wife being a "private person," right?
WEINER, to Blitzer: "She went the entire campaign in 2008 with probably most Americans not knowing that she was the traveling Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton."
So long as those Americans missed the constant coverage of Huma Abedin's "semi-legendary status for maintaining an improbable level of chic on the campaign trail" and the gossip items about her engagement to Anthony Weiner, or have stopped reading Vogue, I can believe this.
WEINER, to Blitzer: "I can tell you that there are photographs."
That's how Weiner answered the question, "Have you ever taken a picture of yourself like this?" I'm pretty sure the right way to answer this question is "No."
This would be a good time to start paying attention to the technical stuff.
WEINER, to Maddow: "I'll be honest with you, you completely lost me with the technical stuff at the outset here."
Here, Weiner is referring to a previous segment on the Rachel Maddow Show in which Maddow did a brief rundown of the efforts being made to examine this incident from a technical standpoint. It would probably be a good time for Weiner to start learning about some of this stuff, especially considering that some of the work that's been done is potentially exculpatory. But, you know, at least feign interest!
But let's face it, this is the biggie, right here.
WEINER, to Russert: "You know, I can't say with certitude."
That's how Weiner answered the question: "But that's not a picture of you?" Again, I'm pretty sure that's not the right answer.
Look, this has already been said many times over, but personally speaking, I've spent my whole life learning to use my wang, and taking care of it, and keeping it safe from the harm that's represented by free kicks in soccer and stuff like that. My wang and I, we have developed a certain rapport. And I'm particular about the clothing I drape o'ertop of it. So, I'm really pretty certain that if you showed me a picture of my crotch, I could instantly tell you if it was mine or not.
Of course, maybe Weiner is riffing on the nature of uncertainty. Is true certitude possible? That sort of thing. First, that's a discussion for another day. Second, that's NOT a discussion I would have with Luke Russert, who -- apart from maybe a conversation about the epistemology of hot wings -- is not someone I would kick it with, Philosophy 101-style.
Say it with certitude! Not to be mercenary, but even if you want to lie, it's not like anyone in the media is going to ask you to put on a pair of grey boxer briefs, achieve tumescence, and submit yourself for comparison?
couldn't Weiner put on some gray shorts, get to the same, uh, level, and then take a photo and compare?
Oh, right. I forgot about Politico. Nevertheless, my point remains: this is probably the worst possible answer to this question. I mean, do you want to leave people with the suspicion that this was you?
What suspicions does Anthony Weiner want to leave us with?
WEINER, to Maddow: "Well, it could be [a private photograph of Weiner's] or it could be a photograph that is taken out of context or manipulated or changed in some way...or maybe it's a photograph that was dropped into an account from somewhere else...I don't want to cast this net wider by saying it was someone else."
No, no! That's exactly what you want to do! Cast a wider net! Suggest it's someone else! Isn't that the whole point of your "investigation?" To reveal the provenance of the photograph, and, in so doing, potentially reveal the malefactor? Surely you want to be the person that helps to make these determinations!
Anthony Weiner doesn't want to be the person who makes those determinations.
WEINER, to Maddow: "I'll leave it to your viewers to make that determination."
Right, well, now you know why you'll keep getting asked about this.