Posted on | June 10, 2011 | 17 Comments
“Just perfectly innocent. A married 46 year old Congressman private messaging a smitten, hero-worshipping, bad-girl-talking 17 year old girl who ‘loved’ him. What could be more innocent than that?”
— Ace of Spades
Before proceeding to examine the really troubling question here, let’s begin by reviewing what we already know:
- Anthony Weiner’s “online relationships” (as he called them in his June 6 press conference) apparently “fit a pattern,” according to the New York Times: “[I]n rapid and reckless fashion, he sought to transform informal online conversations about politics and partisanship into sexually charged exchanges, at times laced with racy language and explicit images.”
- A transcript of Weiner’s Facebook exchanges with Lisa Weiss (the accuracy of which has not been disputed) shows Weiner asking if “your p**** [is] still tight and w*t for me baby?” and talking about “my rock hard c***.”
- Weiner admitted at his press conference that the May 27 Twitter message including a link to a photo of his bulging crotch, which began the so-called WeinerGate scandal, was accidentally sent as a public message, when he intended to send it as a private direct message (DM).
- The intended recipient of that May 27 message, 21-year-old Gennette Cordova, has repeatedly denied having had any “inappropriate” private communications with Weiner.
- Another of Weiner’s “online relationships,” porn performer Ginger Lee, says Weiner urged her to lie about their communications, sending her an e-mail suggestion that she issue a statement saying, “‘This is silly. Like so many others, I follow Rep. Weiner on Twitter. I don’t know him and have never met him.” (In fact, Ms. Lee says she and Weiner “exchanged scores of sexual emails over a long period of time.”)
- Among the messages Weiner sent to 26-year-old single mother Meagan Broussard was a nude photo showing his erect penis.
From these facts it seems obvious that Weiner’s online sexual adventures were so recklessly indiscriminate as to demonstrate an out-of-control compulsion. This is particularly true if we accept Cordova’s assertion that none of her private communications with Weiner were “inappropriate,” so that the congressman would have been sending her that bulging-crotch photo unsolicited, without any previous indication from Cordova that she had a sexual interest in him. (Broussard has also said that none of her communications with Weiner could reasonably have been viewed as an invitation for the congressman to send her the penis photo of himself.)
Weiner’s complete disregard for the dangers of sending these kinds of photos and messages to women he never met is important to note because, by his own public admission, he also disregarded other dangers:
Q: These were young girls, very young, 21 years old. Does that bother you, that they’re — the youngest —
REP. WEINER: I don’t know the — I don’t know the exact ages of the women, and they —
Q: Young enough to be your children.
REP. WEINER: I don’t know the exact ages of the women, and I don’t know if you do. I’m going to respect their privacy. But they were all adults — at least to the best of my knowledge they were all adults — and they were — and they were engaging — and they were engaging in these conversations consensually.
Q: But if you don’t know how old they are, how do you know they’re adults?
REP. WEINER: Well, all I know is what they publish about themselves in social media. Someone could theoretically be — have been — have been fibbing about it, and that’s a risk.
A close reading of that brief exchange raises real problems. Weiner seems to believe that, in light of the graphic content of his online communications, all that matters is whether “to the best of [his] knowledge” the recipients were adults. He further asserts that the recipients “were engaging in these conversations consensually” even though we have at least two women (Cordova and Broussard) saying that Weiner sent them crotch photos unsolicited, without any prior “inappropriate” communications from the women.
Q. If a 46-year-old man sends a photo of his penis to a minor, does it matter whether (a) this was “consensual,” or (b) the recipient of the photo was “at least to the best of [his] knowledge” an adult?
My guess is that the answer to that question is “no,” but I’m not a lawyer. Patterico is a lawyer, and he has written two long posts examining the likelihood that Weiner was engaged in potentially criminal online communications with minors:
- Evidence That Weiner Was Talking Dirty to Underage Girls? Part 2
- Evidence That Weiner Was Talking Dirty to Underage Girls? Part 3
Go read both of those posts. The possibility that Weiner was engaged in inappropriate “online relationships” with minors was a topic that arose early in this story — I first mentioned it on May 30 — but nobody really wanted to “go there,” so long as Weiner’s denials were still plausible.
If we did not know for a fact that Weiner was doing anything wrong online, if it was still possible to believe his account had been “hacked,” what did it matter that a number of teenage girls were among the fewer than 100 people he had been following on Twitter?
However, now that we have Weiner’s admission, and numerous lurid details of what the congressman was doing, the possibility that he may have been engaged in similar communications with 16- and 17-year-old girls is now certainly a subject worth investigating. And the evidence marshalled by Patterico is quite suggestive.
Why would one of Weiner’s teen fans, in response to his decision to follow her again on Twitter, after he’d previously dropped her, post the message, “I GOTTA KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT OR ELSE”?
That teenage girl was not the only minor whom Weiner was following, but what seems highly significant — as Patterico points out — is that she made references to a “tights and cape” super-hero costume, which is exactly what Weiner mentioned in a Facebook message to Lisa Weiss before their exhanges descended into the sexual gutter.
And this returns the WeinerGate saga to its actual origin because we know that “PatriotUSA76″ (Dan Wolfe) first raised the alarm about Weiner’s online activities after noticing the public Twitter exchanges between the congressman and some of the teen girls Weiner was following online. In fact, “PatriotUSA76″ told Ladd Ehlinger Jr. that it was Weiner’s interactions with minors which escalated his attentions to the congressman:
Nothing personal. Until the young girls came in. Then as a father that bothered me.
And “PatriotUSA76″ also told Ehlinger:
Most of the time my group and my tweets were to the effect of “Weiner follows this young girl” — and we would put up a link to a pic of the girl and copy Weiner. We wouldn’t even copy the girl . . . . The couple times that those girls were copied in – I think some of the ladies were talking to the girls as concerned moms . . . We didn’t harass the girls. The thing was about shaming Weiner for following young girls.
This brings us back, as Patterico says, to Tommy Christopher’s June 3 article about “Veronica” and “Betty,” which appeared to exculpate Weiner as the victim of a hoax (saying that the “evidence” was “fabricated”). Now that Weiner has admitted that there was no hoax, and now that we have Ginger Lee saying that the congressman coached her to lie about their online relationship, how do we know that the girls (and their parents) weren’t also part of the same cover-up that Ginger Lee was asked to help perpetrate?
Congressman Weiner has never addressed these questions.
When the subject of his exchanges with “young girls” was raised at his June 6 press conference, Weiner evaded the subject by disclaiming any knowledge of the ages of the women involved. But some of the minors the congressman was following on Twitter were quite clear about being high-school students. And there were no substantive follow-up questions on this subject during the press conference.
Permit me furthermore to observe that, given what we already know, this suspicion cannot possibly be dispelled merely by bloggers or journalists asking questions of the congressman or his online correspondents. Weiner has demonstrated his willingness to lie about his activities, and we have evidence that he enlisted the assistance of others in covering up the truth.
Only a law enforcement investigation can determine
whether or not Anthony Weiner engaged in
potentially criminal communications with minors.
Some of Congressman Weiner’s liberal admirers — including DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz — continue to defend him, and a poll shows a majority of his constituents believe he should remain in office. (A commenter points out: “Only 411 registered voters were surveyed, and the poll was conducted Wednesday, June 8 – perhaps before some of them knew of the X-rated photo.”) Therefore, we are obliged to ask: Would Weiner’s supporters still support him if they knew the whole truth?
Certainly it is time that the whole truth be revealed. Mainstream media organizations cannot responsibly ignore the evidence Patterico has mustered regarding Weiner’s communications with minors. And when Congress returns to Washington on Monday, it can be expected that many members of the House will call on the FBI to begin an investigation into Anthony Weiner’s activities.