ABC, NBC Spotlight Growing Weiner Photo Scandal; CBS Punts

ABC's GMA and NBC's Today on Wednesday both did due diligence on the Rep. Anthony Weiner brouhaha surrounding a lewd photo posted on his Twitter site. ABC's Jonathan Karl noted how Weiner didn't give "the most convincing press conference" in response to the controversy. NBC's Meredith Vieira highlighted how "people are wondering why he is being so defensive." But CBS's Early Show didn't even cover the story.

GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos led the 7 am Eastern hour with a teaser on the burgeoning scandal: "Underwear uproar: a powerful congressman at the center of controversy over a photo flap online. Did someone break into his Twitter account and send a lewd picture, or did he do it? Congressman Weiner's response this morning."

 

Five minutes later, Stephanopoulos turned to Karl, who highlighted the tongue-lashing that the New York Democrat gave to a reporter during the press conference:

KARL: It wasn't the most convincing press conference.

ANTHONY WEINER: I'm not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer. Well, you do the questions, I do the answers and this jackass interrupts me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Answer the question. Was it from you, sir?

WEINER: Look, this was a prank that I've now been talking about for a couple of days.

Vieira focused on the same outburst during her teaser at the top of the 7 am Eastern hour on Today:

VIEIRA: And photo fallout: Congressman Anthony Weiner lashes out at reporters for questioning him about a suggestive picture sent to a woman from his Twitter account.

WEINER: That would be reasonable. You do the questions, I do the answers, and this jackass interrupts me. How about that as the new rule of the game?

VIEIRA: He says he was hacked, but a lot of people are wondering why he is being so defensive.

Later in the hour, the NBC anchor brought on correspondent Luke Russert, who noted how "the normally blunt Weiner was quite shy...shied away from questions – even the most basic of questions" during his presser and that "all the questions clearly irritated" the congressman.

The full transcripts of Jonathan Karl's report from Good Morning America and Luke Russert's report from NBC's Today show on Wednesday:

07:05 am EDT

George Stephanopoulos, ABC News Anchor; & Jonathan Karl, ABC News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgSTEPHANOPOULOS: We turn now to Washington and some hot water for a high profile New York Congressman. A link to a lewd photo was sent out early Saturday morning on Congressman Anthony Weiner's Twitter account. He says the account was hacked and calls the whole thing is a prank. But, he faced some tough questions at a contentious press conference on Capitol Hill late yesterday. Jon Karl covers Capitol Hill for us. And, Jon, the congressman kept getting pressed. Was it his photo? And did he send it?

KARL: Well, that is the question, George. Anthony Weiner is a Democratic congressman who is known for his ambitious-  impassioned speeches on the House floor and for his ambitions to be New York next's mayor. But he now finds himself at the middle of this bizarre controversy.

WEINER: How can I help you?

KARL: It wasn't the most convincing press conference.

WEINER: I'm not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer. Well, you do the questions, I do the answers and this jackass interrupts me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Answer the question, was it from you, sir?

WEINER: Look, this was a prank that I've now been talking about for a couple of days.

KARL: The controversy started at 11:30pm Friday night when a lewd picture of a man's underwear was tweeted from Congressman Weiner's account. This 21-year-old Seattle college student's Twitter name was in the message. The photo was quickly deleted. But not before it was posted for all to see. As for the student, she was one of almost 200 people Weiner was following on Twitter, although she said she never met him or saw the lewd photo. But did Representative Weiner, who is married, send the photo, intending it as a private message to the college student? Weiner has not directly answered that question, but he claims his account was hacked.

NOAH HACHTMAN (contributing editor, Wired magazine): As easy as it is to make a mistake on Twitter, all it takes is one wrong click, it's not that much harder to break into someone's Twitter account.

KARL: Weiner is one of the most colorful members of Congress. Known for his outbursts-

WEINER: The gentleman will sit! The gentleman is correct in sitting!

KARL: And his humor.

WEINER: By the way, I do the Weiner jokes around here, guys. And really, like who is Boehner fooling? What am I, like Anthony Weiner [pronounces WAY-ner]?

KARL: But with the controversy, the Congressman's answers have only raised more questions. The biggest question here is, if his account was hacked, why has he not reported it to law enforcement? George, that's the question is once he hasn't answered. Technology experts say if it was hacked, it would be very easy to determine by taking a look at his account.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. And it's clear that the Congressman wants the whole thing to go away. At that press conference yesterday afternoon, he kept saying, "I'm here to talk about the debt limit. That's what I want to talk about, the big issues that people care about." And there's no indication that the Ethics Committee or anyone else in Congress is going to be investigating this, right?

KARL: There is no indication. Capitol police say they have not been contacted about this and have not initiated an investigation. Nothing under way right now. Although, Weiner has hired a lawyer.

07:14 am EDT

Meredith Vieira, NBC News Anchor; & Luke Russert, NBC News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgVIEIRA: There is new fallout this morning over a lewd picture sent from Congressman Anthony Weiner's Twitter account. He claims he was the victim of a hacker, a point he tried to drive home on Tuesday. NBC's Luke Russert is on Capitol Hill for us this morning. Luke, good morning to you.

LUKE RUSSERT: Good morning, Meredith. Congressman Anthony Weiner may have just been another political victim of the pitfalls of social media. Washington is buzzing about whether or not he sent a lewd photograph to a young woman knowingly. The normally blunt Weiner was quite shy – was shied away from questions – even the most basic of questions. This is the picture sent to a 21-year-old female college student in Seattle from Anthony Weiner's Twitter account. An anonymous man wearing briefs.

The Congressman says his account was hacked and he is the victim of a prank.

ANTHONY WEINER: This was a prank that I've now been talking about now for a couple of days. I'm not going to allow it to decide what I talk about for the next week or the next two weeks. The objective of the person who is doing the mischief is to try to distract me from what I'm doing. I've made a decision I'm not going to let it happen today.

RUSSERT: But Weiner's refusal to directly answer basic questions about the incident has raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you send it or not?

WEINER: If I were giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back threw a pie or yelled out an insult I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or that insult.

RUSSERT: Some are also questioning why Weiner did not ask police to investigate the matter. His answer was the same.

DANA BASH (CNN senior congressional correspondent): Can you just say why you haven't asked law enforcement to investigate what you are alleging is a crime?

WEINER: You know, Dana, if I was giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back of the room threw a pie or yelled out an insult, would I spend the next two hours responding to that? No.


RUSSERT: The woman who received the picture, Gennette Nicole Cordova, has denied any inappropriate relationship with the married Congressman, saying in a statement, 'I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan. I have never been to New York or to D.C. There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself.' But reporters wanted to know more about why the Congressman was following a college student on his Twitter account to begin with.

BASH: Is that true? Did you follow her on Twitter? And if so, how did you find her? What was the reason?

WEINER: You know, I have, I think, said this a couple of ways and I'll say it again. I am not going to permit myself to be distracted by this issue any longer.

RUSSERT: All the questions clearly irritated Weiner.

WEINER: I going to have to ask that we follow some rules here. One of them is going to be you ask questions I give the answers. Does that seem reasonable?

BASH: I'd love to get an answer.

WEINER: That would be reasonable. You do the questions, I do the answers, and this jackass interrupts me. How about that as the new rule of the game?

RUSSERT: And Meredith, Congressman Weiner has hired a lawyer for what he tells us quote, 'Will advise us on the appropriate next steps. It's important to note that Weiner has not been charged with any criminal act and he is not under investigation, but still, this is getting Capitol Hill quite abuzz. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, said quote, 'The incident shows that there is – hacking is a serious problem and as chairman it would be appropriate for the Oversight and Investigative Subcommittee to examine the issue of cyber security to protect our privacy and to assure our national security. We'll see if that happens, Meredith.

VIEIRA: Alright, Luke Russert, thank you very much.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center