Huma Abedin has a new book coming out next month titled “Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds.” Today Vogue published an excerpt from the book in which Abedin describes the infamous moment when her then husband Anthony Weiner accidentally sent a suggestive photo to a woman on Twitter and then claimed his account had been hacked. Weiner wasn’t just lying to the world, he also told his wife the same story via text messages:
As I scrolled through my new emails, a text appeared from Anthony, who was in New York.
“Yes,” I replied. It took a few minutes for the next message to come through.
“My Twitter was hacked and someone posted a photo. There might be a story, but I am working on fixing the problem. Nothing for you to worry about. See you soon.”
He told me not to worry, so even though the concept of being hacked was unsettling, I didn’t.
When Abedin made the flight back to New York the next day, Weiner wasn’t there to greet her. He was outside in the car. The story about the “hacking” was already making the rounds in the New York Post. Abedin said she felt upset for him but was reminded herself that “HRC had been falsely accused of all kinds of nefarious acts” so it would probably turn out to be nothing.
A week passed and the couple headed to a friend’s house for the weekend. On the day they were set to depart, Abedin woke up and realized Weiner had never come to bed. When she found him he finally confessed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
And then, just like that, life as I knew it was officially over. “It’s true,” he said. “I sent the picture.”
I still remember everything about where we were in that moment, the white shaggy rug, the wooden staircase, the front door ajar, the sofa to my left. Anthony opened his mouth to speak and, as though a dam wall burst, words came flooding out. He said that he couldn’t stand lying anymore. His body shook as he tried to choke back tears.
Over the next few minutes, he admitted he had intended to send the picture as a direct message with someone he had befriended over Twitter, but accidentally posted it publicly and deleted it (but not before someone had screen-grabbed it), that it had been a tawdry joke, a dare, it didn’t mean anything and he was ashamed and embarrassed and sorry that he had brought this upon us. I felt something explode inside my chest, and suddenly it was hard to breathe. I was simultaneously filled with rage and stunned to my core. It felt like a bolt of lightning had struck me and run straight through my body.
It was at this point that Abedin forced him to call his team to set up a press conference which would itself become infamous. Abedin accompanied him to the press conference but didn’t go before the press. She says once Weiner and his team entered the room, she walked out of the building. “This was Anthony’s mess. He needed to clean it up.”
This is Abedin’s account of what happened so naturally it focuses on her emotions but I can’t help but notice that in her version of the story the media is a kind of background noise. Never mentioned, at least not in this part of the book, is Breitbart’s sites (Big Government and Big Journalism) which first published stories about the incident and which eventually published two photos of Weiner. It was those photos that finally prompted his decision to confess.
In other words, Weiner didn’t change his story because he could stand lying any more. He finally stopped lying only because Breitbart made it impossible for him to continue. I was a blogger at the time and was writing occasionally for the Breitbart sites. I remember Weiner’s week of denials very well. The pushback from his defenders in print and on Twitter was intense. It really did feel at first that he was going to get away with what was obviously a lie.
Of course there’s a lot more to this story. Weiner, aka Carlos Danger, would be semi-rehabilitated by some in the media and go on to humiliate himself all over again during his run for Mayor of New York with his wife’s backing. Then in 2016 there were more stories which finally led to his divorce and to a conviction for sexting a teenager that landed him an 18-month prison sentence. It also played an important role in the final days of the 2016 election. I’m sort of curious to know what Abedin has to say about all of that.