The obligatory "Madison Cawthorn lingerie photos surface" post

AP Photo/Chris Seward

When you do this job and put yourself at the mercy of the daily news cycle, you commit to one day possibly having to type the phrase “Madison Cawthorn lingerie photos” in a headline.


At least it’s Friday.

You can view the photos here. It looks like him but he’ll probably cry “fake news,” which is certainly his best spin. You can’t go wrong when you’re in a jam asking righty populists, “Who are you going to believe, me or the lying liberal media?” Make it a litmus test!

In hindsight, maybe Cawthorn’s problem with the supposed orgies happening on Capitol Hill wasn’t that they were too wild for him but that they weren’t wild enough.

Photographs obtained by POLITICO appear to show Madison Cawthorn, the embattled Republican congressman from North Carolina who recently accused his GOP colleagues of inviting him to orgies, wearing lingerie in what appears to be a party setting.

Cawthorn, 26, was raised in a conservative Baptist community in Henderson County, North Carolina, and has staked his political persona on arch-traditional Christian principles and the insistence of the importance of a kind of hypermasculinity…

POLITICO could not independently verify the photos, which are screenshots of original images. They were provided to POLITICO by a person formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign. A second person formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign confirmed the origin of the photos. The date the photos were taken is unclear, though they appear to show Cawthorn sitting in a wheelchair, indicating the event happened after his accident. In the photos, he is wearing a distinctive pendant necklace that has appeared in other images and videos of Cawthorn. The photos have started to circulate among political rivals.


The funniest part of the reaction on social media this afternoon is lefties trying to reconcile their overwhelming urge to dunk on him with their ideological duty to respect alternative sexualities. Expect a lot of “to be sure, cross-dressing is wonderful, however…” commentary in the next few days.

If these photos end up sinking Cawthorn’s reelection campaign, I assure you that the cross-dressing will be at least as important to his constituents as the hypocrisy. Almost certainly more so.

Although given the fact that two women are hanging off of him in the pictures and everyone seems to be having fun, the likely explanation is that he was doing it as a goof at a party. If the photos were of Cawthorn *all alone* in lingerie, admiring himself, that would be reeeeeally hard to explain. But in public, with girls around him chuckling?

He’s a young fratty bro, he and his friends were drinking, he did it to make them laugh. He doesn’t cross-dress for pleasure, he’ll say. Whether that explanation will fly with a community of Christian conservatives, I don’t know.


It may make them wonder, though, if the other whispers they’ve heard about Cawthorn not being as prim and proper as he pretends to be might have some truth to them.

As for who might have leaked the photos to Politico, literally everyone’s a suspect. The guy has no fewer than seven primary challengers. Nearly the entire Republican caucus is mad at him for the nonsense about orgies. His staffers, or ex-staffers at least, don’t seem to think much of him either:

“As far as the candidate himself, I mean, he’s just a bad person,” said former Cawthorn staffer Lisa Wiggins in a secretly recorded phone call with David Wheeler, the president of a political action committee called “Fire Madison Cawthorn.”

“He’s a habitual liar and he’s going to say and do anything he can to your face but behind your back, he’s completely opposite,” she added…

She also remarked that Cawthorn’s district office had “more liquor bottles than they do water bottles” and that employees were “drinking like crazy.”

“People need to know how this man really is,” Wiggins told Wheeler. “He’s still got a lot of people fooled.”

This is like one of those murder mystery weekends where a dozen different characters had a motive to kill the victim.

To my surprise, Cawthorn just tweeted about the story — and admits that it’s him in the pictures:


The photos do seem more “game on a vacation cruise” than “getting in touch with a softer side of my personality.” Exit question: Who would have photos of him on a cruise years before he ran for Congress, though? Were they posted on a friend’s Facebook account years ago and discovered by an opponent’s oppo research team? Or are his friends turning on him now too and digging through their archives for stuff to feed to the media?

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Duane Patterson 10:00 PM | July 11, 2024