He’s melting down so fast, in so many ways, that I could have headlined this post with four or five different soundbites. I almost went with Wolf Blitzer asking him whether those were, in fact, his underpants in the photo — yes, he really did ask him that — but hey, we’re all about cutting federal spending at HA.
So let me introduce you to Anthony Weiner, fiscal conservative.
“I did not send that photo. My system was hacked. I was pranked,” Weiner said. “Somebody sent a picture of a wiener from Weiner’s account. I’ve been hearing that joke since I was five.”
But is the photograph — a close up of a man’s underwear — a photograph of Anthony Weiner?
“I’m reluctant to say anything definitively about this because I don’t know to what extent our system was hacked,” he said…
At one point, Weiner suggested he was saving taxpayer money by not calling for an investigation into such a trivial matter.
He must be the only person left on either side of this sham “debate” who finds this a trivial matter. Our side thinks he’s invented a crime out of whole cloth to cover up an extramarital flirtation; liberals think it’s some sort of vicious right-wing plot to frame him. Oddly, Weiner himself is famously combative towards conservatives — except in this one case, where he’s perfectly content to let bygones be bygones and have a private security firm under his direct control do all the investigating. In fact, despite the thought of some malfeasor rooting around in his private Twitter mailbox and trying to ruin his career and/or marriage, his main reaction to this today was … humor.
Remember five days ago, when this guy was regarded as being “media savvy”?
“Maybe it will turn out that this is the point of al-Qaeda’s sword,” he joked, before pointing out that he now has more Twitter followers than Michele Bachmann, making him an especially prank-worthy target. In fact, Weiner was full of jokes and did not seem at all stressed by the situation. At one point he apologized for being “a little bit stiff” with reporters yesterday (when he called a CNN producer a “jackass”). Reporters laughed as a boyish grin crept across his face. “What?” he asked. “The jokes kind of write themselves.” Earlier in the day, he joked with Paul Ryan outside the House chamber, telling the House Budget chair, “I have more Twitter followers than you.”
Weiner dodged repeated questions as to whether he has even taken pictures of himself in his underwear similar to the photo in question. “There are photos of me in the world,” he said. “I’m trying to draw a line here. I don’t want this to get further.”
See what I mean about there being too many soundbites to choose from? Emily Miller of the Washington Times was there too and tweeted her revulsion in real time. Another key line that I didn’t quote: He’s reluctant to take his case to the FBI because “ordinary people” can’t do the same and he is, after all, a man of the people. Except, of course, that “ordinary people” can do the same; there’s a tip page for cybercrimes at the FBI’s website and everything. And yet Weiner, stand-up guy that he is, somehow can’t muster the outrage to head on over there and fill out a complaint. All that stands between the left and total victory over the sinister wingnut hordes is him dialing up the cops, asking them to trace the IPs that accessed his account on Saturday, and then arresting the culprit. And yet, fightin’ liberal Anthony Weiner … just won’t do it. Suddenly, he’s almost zen-like in his serenity.
I’m waiting for CNN to post his interview with Blitzer this afternoon, which has to be seen to be believed. The money line: “I hope my marriage survives our first anniversary.” Contrast that with his tee-hee-ing at the presser quoted above. I’ll update this post when the clip is online; be sure to take a few minutes to watch it when I do, because the Greatest Show on Earth is about to come to an abrupt end:
“Watching Anthony Weiner’s twitter and press blitz is like watching a Charlie Sheen meltdown. It’s amusing, uncomfortable, and not necessary,” a Democratic leadership aide told me just now. “If Weiner really wants to get beyond this, he’ll shut up and let Democrats get back to their Medicare message.”
Exit question: How many shots of this guy’s nob are lying around that he can’t immediately and automatically say that the photo was of someone other than him? How did this story go from whether Weiner sent the pic to whether he’s capable of identifying his own junk?
Update: Via Mediaite, here’s the Blitzer video. Bret Baier’s supposedly going to air his own interview with Weiner on Special Report tonight. Note well his minimizing reference to the photo as “spam,” which isn’t remotely accurate. And a technophile like Weiner surely knows it.
Update: Via Lee Stranahan, the blog Cannonfire offers a techie argument in Weiner’s defense purporting to show that anyone can insert a photo into someone else’s Twitter stream simply by e-mailing it to their Yfrog account (i.e. the photo website that Weiner was using). No hacking was required; supposedly it’s a simple design flaw that makes the e-mailed photo look like it was sent from the recipient’s Twitter account, even though it wasn’t. If that’s true, though — and I’m sure techies are testing this theory right now — then I’m completely mystified as to why Weiner isn’t angrier about this. He has every right to ask the cops to clear his name and punish the person who set him up. As it is, he looks sketchier and more defensive in each new interview, to the point where even allies are getting nervous. (Note once again the Democratic leadership aide’s quote above.) He won’t even flatly deny that it’s him in the photo. Seriously, what’s going on here?
Update: Caleb Howe of Red State tested Cannonfire’s theory and found two problems. One: The alleged smoking gun involving a photo that lacks any Yfrog URL apparently isn’t much of a smoking gun. Cannonfire claimed that that was proof Weiner hadn’t posted the photo to his account; Howe did, however, post a photo to his own account — and it also lacked a Yfrog URL. Two: The only way someone could have inserted a photo into Weiner’s Twitter stream is if they had his Yfrog e-mail address, which turns out to be more obscure than you might think. It’s not simply deductive reasoning like “[email protected]”. There would be additional random numbers and/or letters added on to the address, almost like a password, so that only Weiner himself could access it. Cannonfire’s theory works only if you assume that the guilty party somehow figured out Weiner’s Yfrog e-mail address.