On Monday afternoon (June 6), after Rep. Anthony Weiner’s tearful confession that he had indeed sent a lewd photo of himself to a Washington State co-ed and, at least, six other women, Politico asked if Rep. Weiner could survive. Politico’s query and my short response appear below.
POLITICO Arena: Controversy surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) shows no signs of letting up. The conservative website BigGovernment.com on Monday afternoon posted photos appearing to show the congressman shirtless, and the website claims that Weiner sent those photos to a young woman. (http://bit.ly/la3AQW) In the days since a lewd photo showed up on Weiner’s Twitter account – a photograph that he said he could not say “with certitude” wasn’t him – the congressman has canceled public appearances in Wisconsin and New York.
Regardless of how the facts ultimately shake out, can the congressman – who wants to run for New York City mayor in 2013 – survive this scandal and stay in office? Earlier this year, former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) quickly resigned after he was caught sending shirtless photos in response to a Craigslist advertisement.
BENJAMIN: “This is morphing into a debacle eclipsing the Rep. Chris Lee affair. I can now give Mr. Lee credit for having stanched his political bleeding by amputating his congressional career. Mr. Weiner may want to consider following suit (if this isn’t a colossal [dirty] tricks campaign).
Fossella, Massa, Lee and now, Weiner. If there are others in the NY delegation with secret second families, tickle fetishes, or venereal social media disease, I suggest they consider returning to private life. Forthwith.”
While not calling for Rep. Weiner’s outright resignation, I did suggest that he and others guilty of similar transgressions consider returning to private life as have their former colleagues (Vito Fossella, Eric Massa, and Chris Lee).
POLITICO Arena: Will Andrew Breitbart get his due? (June 7, 2011)
When Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) admitted that he had indeed sent suggestive photos and tweets he apologized to Andrew Breitbart, who first published the material. The blogger has in the past criticized major news organizations for ignoring news of consequence to conservatives, while journalists have long harbored suspicions about Breitbart’s motives and methods. (http://politi.co/j67NcL)
Have mainstream news organizations denied Breitbart his journalistic due because his targets have largely been on the political left? Will the Weiner episode – arguably Breitbart’s biggest political scalp yet – make journalists take his work more seriously?
BENJAMIN: Not likely. Despite [their] getting the goods on John Edwards, has any mainstream news organization cited the crack journalistic reporting of the National Inquirer? Hasn’t occurred; won’t happen. Andrew Breitbart would have to produce a two-headed Republican baby or prove that Sarah Palin was an “alien abductee” before earning respect from the mainstream media.
For my previous postings on Politico.com/Arena, click here.