MSNBC's Thomas Roberts spun furiously for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) Thursday, dismissing the Twitter controversy as a sideshow undeserving of the media's attention.
"He's being pretty transparent," opined the daytime anchor, turning to Republican strategist Joe Watkins. "Joe, wouldn't you agree?"
After Watkins agreed but suggested Weiner's refusal to clarify whether he is the man in the photo does not help his case, Roberts followed up by parroting the Democratic congressman's dodge: "Well why waste taxpayer dollars on something kind of so stupid?"
For a compilation video showing Weiner's lack of transparency and inability to cooperate with the media, see below the fold:
In the face of overwhelming video evidence, Roberts's dismissive tone and leading questions belie his status as a neutral anchor.
A transcript of the segment can be found below:
June 2, 2011
11:05 a.m. EDT
THOMAS ROBERTS: Alright, so this is the Twitter pic heard around the world. Richard, I'm going to start with you because, you know, the nickname for Richard is, you know, whatever. Anyway, what do you think about how he can button this up?
RICHARD GOODSTEIN, Democratic strategist: Listen, look. First of all, he's not really denying it. And the woman on the receiving end is not saying she was offended at all. This kind of speaks to how the prurient interest has taken over and eclipsing discussion of really serious issues. There are two models for handling this. One is to kind of slow walk things or semi-deny. And the other is to do what Senator Vitter did when he was caught with prostitutes, which is just stonewall. And he just got re-elected by a sizeable margin. Look this is the South Park kind of version of politics. I just think we're past it. It's kind of a shame. One of these days, Congressman Weiner will look back and wish he had done it differently, but he'll get through it.
ROBERTS: He's being pretty transparent. Joe, wouldn't you agree?
JOE WATKINS, Republican strategist: He's being very transparent about it. Of course, you know, it does hurt when you say I can't say with certitude that it's not me. And certainly the late-night TV shows have had great fun with it. Jon Stewart is absolutely hilarious. He's brilliant and funny and made some very very good points. If you look at it, he didn't go to law enforcement to see if he was hacked, he hired a private agency.
ROBERTS: Well why waste taxpayer dollars on something kind of so stupid?
WATKINS: Well I understand. It's a silly, silly thing. The upside for the congressman is that certainly he has 100 percent, or close to, 100 percent name ID out there now nationally, though it's not the kind of name ID that you want.
ROBERTS: That's right. Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us this morning. Richard and Joe, we do appreciate your time.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.