The Other McCain

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@JoanWalsh Blames @AndrewBreitbart and #tcot Bloggers for #WeinerGate Story

Posted on | May 30, 2011 | 119 Comments

Dear Joan Walsh:
I arrived late at the #WeinerGate story — it was already on top of Memeorandum by the time I blogged about it at 4:23 p.m. ET Saturday — and my first reaction was to make a joke of it. But then, as I took time to acquaint myself with the facts, a question formed in my mind: Who is this woman to whom the Twitter photo was sent?

It seemed to me that this was the key to the enigma. The claim by Rep. Anthony Weiner that his Twitter account and account had been simultaneously hacked seemed to be inspiring extreme skepticism.

The most plausible alternative theory was that Weiner had mistakenly sent the photo as a public Twitter message when he meant to send it as a DM. The obvious way to solve this mystery, it seemed to me, was to learn as much as possible about the intended recipient of the message. And so I inquired on Twitter, and was quickly directed to the materials that were included in my first two updates:

UPDATE: Velvet Hammer at Ironic Surrealism examines “Gennette Nicole,” the self-described “progressive” journalism student in Seattle to whom Weiner allegedly sent the photo, and who had previously described the married congressman as her “boyfriend.” Her Twitter account has now disappeared down the memory hole.
UPDATE II: Gennette Nicole Cordova is a student at Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, Wash., where she is a reporter for the student newspaper, Horizon.
Hat tip to “ThoughtsAloud” on Twitter for the original ID and photo.
It must be emphasized that at this point we have no idea whether Ms. Cordova actually knows Rep. Weiner, whether her Twitter claim of him being her “boyfriend” was just a joke, or whether Rep. Weiner actually communicated with Ms. Cordova.
Let’s hope Rep. Weiner will clarify this confusion, before the media scrum descends on Ms. Cordova.

You see the caveats and cautions included. It appeared to me that it was incumbent on Weiner to answer the obvious questions about this incident, or else the media would immediately turn their attention to Ms. Cordova — she being the only other person who might possibly explain their Twitter exchanges.

I did not hesitate to name Ms. Cordova. However, none of the writers at Andrew Breitbart’s sites named her before Ms. Cordova issued her statement.

Why didn’t I have any qualms about naming Ms. Cordova? First of all, her identity was never really “secret” to anyone who knew how to use Google. She was already being named at other blogs, and by people on Twitter.

Second, Ms. Cordova had obviously basked in the reflected glory of her online connection to the famous congressman, so that in April, after she Tweeted out that Weiner was her “boyfriend,” her friends teased her about her “crush” on him. Having welcomed such publicity in April, why should she shun publicity in May?

Third and finally, Ms. Cordova is herself a journalist — a student journalist, but still a journalist. In her responses to this apparent scandal, Ms. Cordova had, in a manner of speaking, affixed her byline to the story. She now says she was confused by the Twitter reaction to the now-infamous photo Tweet from Weiner’s account. In her Sunday evening statement, Ms. Cordova wrote:

I assumed that the tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the Congressman and harassing his supporters. . . . I began taking steps, though not quickly enough, to remove as much personal information from the Internet as possible.

This was perhaps a hard lesson for a young journalism student to learn: You can’t undo the Internet.

Trust me, she was not the first to learn this painful lesson. And anyone can understand Ms. Cordova’s confusion between (a) people on Twitter who had harassed her about Weiner, and (b) the provenance of the photo sent from Weiner’s account. She evidently thought the harassers had also fabricated the photo. (Updated: She didn’t; see note below.)

Meanwhile, she experienced “the most confusing, anxiety-ridden hours of my life,” to quote her statement again. Minus the anxiety, many of us also experienced 36 confusing hours. And Ms. Cordova’s statement does not entirely eliminate the confusion. Ms. Cordova is a journalist, and therefore ought to understand the nature of the questions she has left unanswered, to wit:

Ms. Cordova says she never had “inappropriate exchanges” with Weiner, but did she exchange DMs (private direct messages) on Twitter with the congressman? Have they exchanged e-mails or otherwise communicated privately online? Have they spoken by phone? And if Ms. Cordova has had such private communications with Weiner, did any of those communications occur on Friday, Saturday or Sunday?

If Ms. Cordova’s honest answers to those questions are “no,” “no,” “no” and “no,” then this would mean that there is no basis for much of the speculation that has been stimulated since Weiner’s mysterious “hacked” Tweet appeared on Friday.

Frankly, Ms. Walsh, many people suspect that there is a lot more to this story than has yet become public, and speculation involving the phrase “cover-up” has not been quelled by Ms. Cordova’s statement. As she says, “I cannot answer the questions that I do not have the answers to.” True. But there are some questions she can answer, and has not. (My friend Ace of Spades is an intensely curious and skeptical person.)

But perhaps, Ms. Walsh — as you have mistakenly believed that Andrew Breitbart or his employees ID’d Ms. Cordova — you are not the most observant journalist in America. Because I think if you were keenly observant, you might have noticed something curious over the weekend: The normally loquacious @RepWeiner didn’t have a damned thing to say about this whole “hacking” incident, except a couple of vague jokes.

Does it not strike you as odd, Ms. Walsh, that the New York congressman — who has never been known to be averse to TV cameras — did not rush into a studio, or call a press conference, to rebut the accusation that he had Tweeted photos of his tumescence to a 21-year-old?

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “Silver Blaze”

So the loquacious congressman says nothing, while his spokesman issues denials and, after 36 “anxiety-filled” hours, we get a confusing statement from the self-described “fan” of Weiner to whom the notorious photo was addressed.

There is something wrong with this story, Ms. Walsh. And what’s wrong has nothing to do with Andrew Breitbart.

Robert Stacy McCain

UPDATE: I wrote that Ms. Cordova “evidently thought the harassers had also fabricated the photo.” She has since updated on her (resurrected) Twitter account and to clarified that this was only true initially:

@GenetteC — A lot of these journalists are incompetent hacks… maybe I should reconsider my professional aspirations.

@GenetteC — Can I just clarify that, although @patriotusa76 has been a nuisance, I never said or implied that he was behind the tweet.

@GenetteC — Moreover, I never once speculated about the alleged hacking.

Someone then reminded Ms. Cordova of her statement: “Since I had dealt with this person and his cohorts before I assumed that the tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the Congressman and harassing his supporters.” Ms. Cordova then responded:

@GenetteC — @lizbuddie That was when I first saw the retweet and thought it was fake. When I realized it was real I didn’t accuse him of creating it.

So, when she “first saw the retweet” of the Weiner message by PatriotUSA76 (Dan Wolfe), Ms. Cordova “thought it was fake.”  Once she “realized it was real” — i.e., that such a message had indeed been Tweeted from Weiner’s account — she “didn’t accuse him of creating it.”

It was necessary to make this clear, because I wouldn’t want to be considered one of those “incompetent hacks.”

UPDATE II: And for the sake of being “fair and balanced,” I am linking the Daily Kos conspiracy theory “smoking gun” which claims to prove that Rep. Weiner was the victim of a hack.

I don’t claim to understand his theory, but I am perfectly willing to link it. It appears that the DKos blogge r”stef” believes that the YFrog image was a Photoshop. And how that explains how the link to the image was sent from Rep. Weiner’s account, I’m not sure. But much of the suspicion hinges on the fact that Dan Wolfe had Tweeted two weeks earlier a suggestion that Rep. Weiner was involved in a sex-picture scandal. DKos then infers from Tweets by Dana Loesch that the Big Journalism editor was somehow “in on it.”

Like I said, I don’t understand the DKos theory. If anyone can figure it out, please elaborate in the comments.

UPDATE II: At least one DKos diarist disputes the “evidence” of a Breitbart conspiracy. (Thanks to Pablo in the comments for the tip.)



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