During Thursday NBC News special coverage of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner announcing his resignation, congressional correspondent Kelly O'Donnell remarked to Nightly News anchor Brian Williams: "Anthony Weiner showed much of his strength as a Congressman in what he talked about just now in trying to talk about a message that was something other than this scandal." [Audio available here]
After Weiner finished speaking, Williams wondered: "Kelly, was there ever any salvaging this? It's been – it's been said that if he'd been candid at the beginning he could still have his seat in Congress." O'Donnell acknowledged how damaging the lying was, but then sympathetically observed: "The underlying nature of this type of scandal, which was so embarrassing, also made it very difficult for him to go forward because he has been mocked in a way that no one would ever wish on their enemy."
Was disgraced Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, who carried on several inappropriate online chats with young women, a victim of a newly “puritanical” climate in Washington? That’s the inference from Kate Zernike’s front-page story for the New York Times's Week in Review, “Naked Hubris...While digital flux makes it easier for politicians to stray,” a companion piece to Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s “When it comes to scandal, boys will be boys.”
The same congressional panel that launched a preliminary inquiry into Weiner-gate this week has been diddling around with several other Democratic ethics scandals for years. These aren't foxes guarding the henhouse. They're sloths guarding the foxhole.
The House Ethics Committee is now reportedly probing into Twitter-holic Democratic New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's possible abuse of government resources while sending pervy messages and photos to young women across the country. The latest batch of Weiner's leaked social-media self-portraits — more cheesecake than beefcake — showed him in various states of undress at the congressional gym. From what other public buildings has Ick-arus tweeted his junk? And how much time on the public's dime did his government staff spend coaching Weiner girls to assist with damage control?
MSNBC's Chris Matthews took a well-deserved shot at rival network CNN Monday for actually giving former New York governor Eliot Spitzer his own program.
The "Hardball" host also took a swipe at Spitzer saying it was "ludicrous" for him to actually be talking about Congressman Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) sex scandal (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MRC Director of Media Analysis and NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham appeared on the June 10 edition of FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor to document the broadcast networks’ double-standard on congressional sleaze stories. When the story first broke, ABC, CBS and NBC refused to cover the Weiner “sexting” scandal, and their overall weekday evening news coverage had amounted to less than a dozen stories as of last Friday.
But back in 2006, Graham noted, the networks pounced right away on the similarly sleazy actions of a congressional Republican, Mark Foley, which were a focus of five times as many evening news stories (55) in the first 12 days, even though Foley had quit Congress almost immediately.
The Andrew Breitbart-hating media certainly got its comeuppance Monday when Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) finally admitted that he had indeed been sending lewd pictures to young women via his Twitter account.
Sensing that he was seated with one such press member, CNN's Howard Kurtz on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" told a mopey Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, "You're just annoyed because Breitbart, who doesn't like the liberal media, has actually gotten some credit on this story" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Liberal lunatic Janeane Garofalo doesn't think Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is responsible for the sex scandal that is currently threatening his career.
Appearing on HBO's "Real Time," the so-called comedian and actress claimed Weinergate is caused by the media and "hypocrite Republicans" (video follows with transcript and commentary, vulgarity warning):
If disgraced New York congressman Anthony Weiner needs a shoulder to cry on, he now has one in journalist Barbara Walters, who on Thursday’s edition of The View proposed that Weiner should not resign. “He was a good congressman, and maybe he can weather this all and be effective.”
Walters (who blabbed in her memoirs that she had an affair with a married politician) hoped Weiner could become another heroic Clinton: "we had a president named Bill Clinton who went through a great deal of trouble, weathered the storm and is now not only respected, but he's beloved by many people with a very good marriage."
Appearing on Tuesday's NBC Today, advertising executive Donny Deutsch and psychotherapist Robi Ludwig both agreed that the American people should not stop being "shocked" by political sex scandals. Deutsch declared: "...we have to stop being shocked and amazed....when men who are conquerors by nature also chase women....we as a society have got to become a little more anesthetized to this."
Moments later, as Duetsch one again proclaimed, "Let's stop being shocked at this stuff!," Ludwig blamed American moral values for the attention the scandal received: "We're a very puritanical country and so we're a little bit sexually repressed. So on the one hand we like hearing stories about sex, but we want certain things from our leaders that maybe is not realistic and maybe that's the sad part."
Another day, another New York Times story by Katharine Seelye story on liberal Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards that completely leaves out the words "liberal" and "Democrat" -- an admiring profile of Edwards’s loyal daughter, "For Edwards’s Adult Daughter, A Recurring Role: Family Glue," which led Thursday's National section.
Seelye’s initial online story on Edwards’s indictment last Friday also left out the disgraced politician’s party affiliation, though it was added in by the time the story appeared in print Saturday.
They call it BCS, Bill Clinton syndrome, and it has broken out anew in New York and here in Washington, where it was first discovered. As elaborated upon in scholarly detail in the now famous "Starr Report: The Official Report of the Independent Counsel's Investigation of the President," BCS strikes powerful figures, usually male, who experience lewd compulsions of an overpowering nature, generally in the presence of technology — often the telephone, occasionally a smartphone or even a computer — and usually when they are alone or behind closed doors with a woman of inferior rank. The first victim of the syndrome was, of course, President Bill Clinton, but it has struck a growing number of powerful individuals, most recently Rep. Chris Lee, International Monetary Fund chieftain Dominique Strauss-Kahn and now Rep. Anthony Weiner (pronounced VY'-nehr — at least by him).
During a report on growing calls for Anthony Weiner to resign from Congress on Thursday's NBC Today, Politico's Maggie Haberman noted how former President Bill Clinton was particularly troubled by the sex scandal: "Bill Clinton is very unhappy with Anthony Weiner right now. The Clintons are not thrilled with this."
Congressional correspondent Luke Russert had described how "Among those Weiner has turned to since the scandal has broke is former President Bill Clinton, a close friend who presided at the Congressman's wedding and has referred to Weiner's wife [Huma Abedian] as his second daughter."
CNN's Howard Kurtz made a statement to his colleague Eliot Spitzer Wednesday that folks who remember the media firestorm surrounding former Congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) will find hard to believe.
Appearing on "In the Arena," the media analyst complained about the amount of coverage recent sex scandals involving Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Dominque Strauss-Kahn have received saying, "I've just never seen it spin at this velocity, this out of control" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
NPR's Renee Montagne touted the Rep. Anthony Weiner sex scandal as a "dilemma" for Democrats on Wednesday's Morning Edition. Correspondent Andrea Seabrook also underlined how it was apparently "hard for Democrats to call for his resignation" because the New York politician is a "bulldog" for their issues.
Montagne used her label during an introduction for Seabrook's report, which put the Weiner controversy in the context of other Washington sex scandals: "The New York Democrat admitted earlier this week that he had inappropriate exchanges with women online, exchanges that included sexually explicit pictures. He also said he will not resign his House seat. As NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports, that poses a dilemma for his Democratic colleagues."
Talking to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Wednesday's NBC Today, outgoing co-host Meredith Vieira questioned calls for disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign: "Nancy Pelosi has formally asked the Ethics Committee to look into this. So why not just let them do their job and then let the chips fall where they may?"
Priebus replied: "I don't think we need to spend taxpayer dollars investigating whether or not Anthony Weiner's a creep or not." Vieira continued to brush aside talk of resignation: "...[Weiner] has said he does not believe he has broken any rules, he has no intention of resigning, it's up to the people, his constituents, to decide whether he should leave or not."
Brent Bozell reminded readers of his column that the networks piled on 152 stories about Rep. Mark Foley in the story's first 12 days in the fall of 2006, but they weren’t the only ones with a vast left-wing disparity. Time and Newsweek each devoted cover stories and multiple pages to the Foley scandal. Time put an elephant’s rear end on the cover with the words “What a Mess...Why a tawdry Washington sex scandal may spell the end of the Republican revolution”. Newsweek had a huge picture of Foley (with a small President Bush in front of his face) with the huge headline “Off Message” and the subhead “Foley’s Secret Life: How a Predator’s E-mail Sex Scandal Could Cost Bush Congress.”
To a liberal media member, politics means never having to say you were wrong.
On Tuesday's "The Ed Show," Salon's Joan Walsh said she looked "kind of stupid" for defending Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) last week, then went right on defending him (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The sounds of the slaps you hear are those of the DUers at the Democratic Underground and the Kossacks at the Daily Kos slapping themselves silly for ever believing Anthony Weiner's very obvious lies. The only thing that makes them angrier than their gullibility being publicly exposed is the fact that Weiner apologized to Andrew Breitbart. That really drove them over the edge and contributed greatly to their sudden disillusionment with the New York congressman.
To get a handle on the unbelievable extent of their gullibility, we need to take a short trip down memory lane to just over a week ago to May 29 when the DUers were completly buying into the assertion in the title of their thread, "Anthony Weiner: Hackers posted lewd photos on Twitter." A few choice tidbits of their outrage over the belief that it was Weiner who was hacked:
I knew those monsters would go after Weiner. They always attack the best of us. Psychopaths always attack your strengths. Grrrrr
They messed with the wrong person this time. Anthony Weiner is not going to be silent while they go after him. This could actually be a good thing.
MSNBC's Cenk Uygur made an on air admission Tuesday that might not only raise some of his boss's eyebrows but could also make a few ex-girlfriends very unhappy.
As he defended Congressman Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) handling of the sex scandal that's riveted the nation for more than a week, Uygur said to his guests, "You know how many times when I was single, and I had girlfriends, you know how many times I lied to them?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CNN's Wolf Blitzer admitted Monday that he believed Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) when the congressman told him in an interview that he did not send a lewd photo of himself over Twitter. Blitzer related to CNN's Piers Morgan Monday evening his thoughts immediately after the interview.
"I'm saying to myself, you know what, it sounds to me like it may have been his picture, but it was out there, but somebody else hacked it and somebody else sent it out to embarrass him. I sort of believed, you know, that line," he confessed.
MRC’s Scott Whitlock last week called to light Joy Behar’s suggestion on The View that Congressman Anthony Weiner’s social media scandal was part of a conspiracy by political opponents, a view repudiated by fellow panelist Barbara Walters. “Somebody is out to get him, apparently, 'cause they don't like his politics,” Behar said on the ABC daytime talk show on Tuesday.
Despite Monday’s revelations, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, long the sole voice of reason on the program, was the only panelist who openly and repeatedly called for Weiner’s resignation. "He should be resigning right now," Hasselbeck said. The View’s leftist coffee klatch, however, would take no clear stand, and thought it more suitable to play armchair psychologist.
As NewsBusters' Lachlan Markay pointed out, the Weinergate scandal showcased a variety of liberal media conspiracy theories. One of the most prevalent theories focused on besmirching conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who broke the story wide open Monday with a series of posts on BigGovernment.com featuring lewd photos of Rep. Anthony Weiner.
"Look, Breitbart is a proven liar, okay?" bellowed MSNBC anchor Cenk Uygur on June 1. "He doctored the Shirley Sherrod tapes. He's done this over and over again. Why would anybody take this fool seriously?"
UPDATE: Check out reaction from some of the chief Weiner-defenders below the break.
The so-called Weinergate scandal provided a true spectacle of media bias and conspiracy theorizing. While there was certainly plenty of good reporting throughout, many opted to take Rep. Anthony Weiner's claims at face value and search for other culprits or scapegoats.
Others devised more malicious theories about why a lewd picture had appeared on the congressman's Twitter feed. It was Andrew Breitbart's attempt to gin up another bogus story, or a coordinated effort by conservatives to provide cover for Clarence Thomas. These wild theories actually gained quite a bit of traction among liberals online, and even a few mainstream personalities.
We know now, by Weiner's own admission, that they were all nonsense. So with the facts readily available, it's worth reviewing some of the dominant narratives that pervaded media coverage of the scandal.
In an interview with Andrew Breitbart on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer suggested the conservative blogger should not have broken news of the scandal involving Congressman Anthony Weiner: "Did you worry that – you know, as a conservative, you don't want government in people's bedrooms. And so did you stop and have a debate with yourself about that?"
Moments earlier, Breitbart had noted feeling some sympathy for Weiner during Monday's press conference: "I felt so unbelievably sad for this guy." Lauer responded by wondering why that sympathy didn't keep the BigGovernment.com creator from re-posting Weiner's racy tweet on the web site last week: "But if you're sad for the guy then, did you not consider that at some point you might be sad for him when you first posted that photo ten days ago?"
Barbara Walters said Monday that if Sarah Palin can be considered as a possible presidential candidate, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) can stay in Congress despite the current sex scandal he's involved in.
Significantly more shocking, "The View" co-host Joy Behar actually came to Palin's defense (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Chrystia Freeland made a series of bizarre statements on MSNBC today that were overshadowed only by Anthony Weiner's contrite presser during which the Democratic congressman admitted to tweeting the infamous crotch photo and lying to cover it up.
Before the press conference, the Reuters editor-at-large quipped that the Twitter controversy showed that Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as New York governor in 2008 after being caught sleeping with prostitutes, "is a really classy guy."
Old and new media clashed on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday.
After CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes blamed Andrew Breitbart for her network's slow response to the ongoing Weinergate scandal, Gawker staff writer Maureen O'Connor said, "I think even if that's the case, it was very quickly that you could have looked into this story and verified it for yourself" (video follows with trancript and commentary):