ABC Fails to Identify Scandal-Marred Weiner as a Democrat
Despite devoting three segments to Anthony Weiner's latest sexually explicit photos and texts, Good Morning America on Wednesday failed to identify the New York politician as a Democrat. Instead, an ABC graphic simply called him a "mayoral candidate" for office. The previous evening's World News deemed Weiner a "former congressman" and a "mayoral candidate."
Reporter Jeff Zeleny delicately described Tuesday's bizarre press conference: "It was a real human drama when his wife stepped forward to deliver a very public testimonial." Zeleny told viewers that Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife, "is defending her man and his candidacy." In a follow-up segment, Linsey Davis focused on Abedin. A graphic declared, "Standing By Her Man: Wife Stands By Weiner in Sexting Scandal."
A 2008 Media Research Center study found that within the first week of his scandal, Eliot Spitzer was only identified as a Democrat 20 percent of the time on the networks. In contrast during a similar period of time, Mark Sanford was exposed as a Republican 100 percent of the time.
Marriage and family therapist Karen Ruskin was brought on to explain why the former Hillary Clinton aide is defending her husband:
KAREN RUSKIN PsyD (Marriage and family therapist): Powerful women in particular take their men back because they know it's hard to find a man who is not going to do something that is going to disappoint. And they want to keep their family stable.
At the end of the segment, Davis finally allowed, "...Many can't help but wonder if her reasons for staying are politically motivated." She then featured the Washington Post's Jackie Kucinich to note, "It was as if she was saying to voters, 'you know, I'm the one who was most hurt by this and I've gotten past it. So, maybe you should to.'"
A transcript of the first GMA segment, airing on July 24, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Another sexting scandal rocks the political career of Anthony Weiner. New calls this morning for him to end his bid to become mayor of New York after the news messages are revealed. His wife stands by his side.
HUMA ABEDIN: I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him.
ABC GRAPHIC: Candidate Admits to Sexting Again: New Calls for Weiner to Step Down
STEPHANOPOULOS: But we're going to turn now to those shocking revelations shaking up the New York mayor's race one more time. Anthony Weiner claimed to be a changed man after he resigned Congress in the wake of a sexting scandal. But it turns out the sexting did not stop. In an extraordinary news conference late yesterday, Weiner said that wouldn't force him out of the mayor's race in New York. And ABC's Jeff Zeleny is here with the details. And Jeff, Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin there to back him up. But this morning, three of his opponents and two major New York newspapers saying, enough is enough.
JEFF ZELENY: That's right, George. It was an extraordinary scene. It was a real human drama when his wife stepped forward to deliver a very public testimonial in hopes of stopping her husband for another political free-fall.
ANTHONY WEINER: I have said that other texts and photos were likely to come out. And today they have.
ZELENY: The scene was familiar. Anthony Weiner, back in front of a microphone, admitting involvement in another sexting scandal.
WEINER: There's no question that what I did was wrong.
ZELENY: What's different, though is that he's no longer a congressman. He's running for mayor of New York city. And this time, his wife, Huma, Hillary Clinton's former aide, is standing by his side and speaking out.
ABEDIN: You'll have to bear with me because I'm very nervous and I wrote down what I wanted to say. I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him. And as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.
ZELENY: His fall from grace was extraordinary. A congressman with national promise, forced to resign two years ago, for sending sexually explicit messages to women. And now Tuesday's revelations could spell new trouble for his candidacy. He acknowledges sending messages for a year after he resigned from Congress. The e-mail messages were explicit and x-rated. "I hear liberal girls are very, uh, accommodating of others." His rivals and others are calling for him to leave the race. But Huma is defending her man and his candidacy.
ABEDIN: It was not an easy choice in any way. But I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. I do very strongly believe that is between us.
ZELENY: And he is asking for yet another chance.
WEINER (Mayoral candidate, New York City): Let me just reiterate to my wife, how sorry I am that I did these things. And how sorry I am to the people that got these messages.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Weiner was in the thick of the race before the new revelations. Whether voters are going to give him a third chance, in addition to a second. But this seemed to surprise even those closest to the campaign.
ZELENY: It did, George. And it surprised those closest to the family. Friends close to the family said that Huma was shocked and saddened by this when it happened. You could see that look on her face. The biggest problem is the timberline of this. This happened six months, he admitted, after their son was born. The son was born in December of 2011. This texting was going on until June 2012. That's the key sticking point here that hurts this family.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, it sure is. Okay, Jeff. Thanks very much.