The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

JOE FRIDAY Reports WeinerGate

During the three-week scandal known as WeinerGate, I amassed scores of blog posts, including 15 posts in the first five days, May 28-June 1, and wrote five columns for The American Spectator about the scandal. However, I also did straight-news reporting on the scandal, which I believe contributed as much or more journalistic value than all my other work on the story. — RSM

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MAY 28 
Did N.Y. Congressman Send
Penis Photo to Student?

(338 words; 11:29 p.m.)

The Internet was abuzz Saturday after it was reported that Rep. Anthony Weiner had apparently sent a lewd photo to a Seattle-area college student.
The New York Democrat quickly asserted that his online accounts had been “hacked” after Andrew Breitbart’s reported that Weiner’s Twitter account was used to send the photo, which shows the pelvic area of a man in gray undershorts with his tumescent penis bulging.
Late Friday night, a public message from Weiner’s Twitter account (@RepWeiner) included a link to the penis photo, posted on the photo-sharing network. That message was directed to a Twitter account identified as belonging to 21-year-old Gennette Nicole Cordova, a student at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington.
Caches of Cordova’s Twitter messages appeared to show that on April 9 she sent a message: “I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to right now.” One of her friends on Twitter remarked the next day that Cordova’s “crush” on the congressman was “cute.” In one of his Twitter messages Friday announcing an appearance on the MSNBC cable network, Weiner made a joking reference to what time the show could be seen in Seattle.
Cordova’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were deleted Saturday — “Very odd,” New York reporter Liz Benjamin remarked — and the YFrog account that included the penis photo was also deleted. Media critic Lee Stranahan speculates on the motives for those deletions. While Weiner has made flippant references on Twitter to what was quickly dubbed “WeinerGate,” he has made no explanation of how the “hacking” took place. Attempts to reach the congressman’s press office were unsuccessful, blogger/talk-radio personality Peter Ingemi reported Saturday evening.
Weiner is married to former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Jonathan Allen and Ben Smith of Politico reported late Saturday: “Weiner’s office did not respond to a request for comment on whether he has contacted federal authorities to report the alleged cyber-attack, which could fall under laws prohibiting cyberhacking and impersonating federal officials.”

Another Week of #WeinerGate?
(187 words; 7:34 a.m. ET)

The online scandal surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner — the New York Democrat accused of using Twitter to send a crotch photo to a 21-year-old Seattle woman May 27 — appears to be spreading. There are three new developments in the story:

Congress is in recess this week and major news organizations have not yet reacted to these developments in the story known by the Twitter hashtag label #WeinerGate, but it appears that we have not heard the last of this tawdry tale.

Democrats Wonder: How Soon
Will Anthony Weiner Resign?

(602 words; 1:11 a.m. ET)

During his Monday confessional press conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner said he would not resign his congressional seat. Despite the scandalized New York Democrat’s avowed intention of remaining in Congress, however, Weiner’s tenure in the House is likely to end soon, as more and more of his fellow Democrats demand his resignation.
A top official of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania on Wednesday became the first House Democrat to call for Weiner’s resignation. Five other House Democrats added their agreement. In a radio interview, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor similarly said Weiner should resign, a sentiment echoed Wednesday by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Virginia senatorial candidate Tim Kaine, both former chairmen of the Democratic National Committee.
The so-called “WeinerGate” scandal began May 27 when the congressman, married to a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sent a late-night Twitter message that included a link to a lewd photo of his crotch. That message was addressed to a 21-year-old college student from Seattle, a fan of Weiner’s who had jokingly described herself as his “girlfriend,” but was also visible to the congressman’s more than 40,000 Twitter followers. Weiner quickly deleted the photo, claiming his online accounts had been “hacked,” and continued his denials for ten days until, at Monday’s press conference in New York, he admitted that he had meant to send the photo to the 21-year-old as a private Twitter direct message (DM).
The congressman also confessed Monday to having carried on several other “online relationships” with women. In the past two days, lurid new details of Weiner’s activities have emerged. Tuesday, the gossip site Radar Online published a graphic  transcript of his Facebook “cybersex” exchanges with Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old Las Vegas casino employee. A 34-year-old teacher in Georgia reluctantly came forward Wednesday to admit she had also carried on sexual Facebook conversations with Weiner. And also Wednesday, two radio personalities published a photo of Weiner’s genitals that the congressman had sent to another of his Internet acquaintances, 26-year-old Meagan Broussard. The hosts of the “Opie and Anthony Show” had surreptitiously obtained the X-rated photo from conservative New Media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, whose first reported Weiner’s scandal. Breitbart had promised not to publish that photo, and issued a statement Wednesday expressing his regret that it had become public.
WeinerGate has already deprived Democrats of nearly two weeks of media time during which they had hoped to capitalize on the political momentum they gained by winning a May 24 special election in New York’s 26th District. With additional revelations likely in coming days, Weiner’s scandal could continue making headlines for weeks. While some in the GOP, including Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, have called for Weiner’s resignation, many other Republicans are in no hurry to see the disgraced Democrat depart D.C. One GOP operative, noting Weiner’s previous role as a leading liberal attack dog, told me privately Wednesday: “Who cares whether he resigns now or not? He’s been neutered. Can Weiner accuse Republicans of wrongdoing now? . . . I say, let him stay.”
Weiner’s scandal “has become a national embarrassment for Democratic leaders,” Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal reports, citing unnamed “Democratic aides” as saying that if the embattled congressman “continues to resist calls to resign, the situation could reach a boiling point Monday when House members return to Washington.”
Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and other House Democrat leaders certainly don’t want to be forced to keep discussing WeinerGate next week. Only Weiner’s resignation can bring the sex-scandal narrative to an end, and that end can’t come soon enough for Democrats.

Wasserman-Schultz and Hoyer Repeat
Calls for Weiner Resignation

(312 words; 11:09 a.m.)

Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner’s behavior “crossed the threshold” that requires him to resign, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said Sunday. Her call was echoed by Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.
The renewed push from top Democrats for Weiner’s resignation came as the Web site TMZ released photos that the Brooklyn Democrat took of himself posing in the congressional gym in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building. TMZ said Weiner, whose wife is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had sent the photos to one of the women with whom he had exchanged sexual messages via the Internet.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Wasserman-Schultz said that when Weiner’s cybersex scandal first made headlines two weeks ago, her party’s leaders had tried to give the New York Democrat “breathing room” in the hope that Weiner would “do the right thing, make a decision, reach the conclusion that he needed to step back, and step down on his own.” Hoyer, appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, said Weiner cannot “effectively proceed” as a member of Congress.
On Saturday, Wasserman-Schultz joined House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee, in calling for Weiner to resign. The congressman admitted at a June 6 press conference that he sent graphic messages, including lewd photos, to women with whom he had what he called “online relationships.”
Friday, Weiner admitted he had also engaged in private communications with a 17-year-old Delaware girl, although he said those messages were “neither explicit nor indecent.” Delaware police, who questioned the girl and her parents Friday, have said their investigation found no evidence of criminal behavior by the congressman.
Weiner has asked for a leave of absence from Congress, saying he will seek “treatment” for his problems. Congress reconvenes Monday from a weeklong recess.

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