Opinion: Anthony Weiner: No photographic memory of his underwear drawer
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I shouldn’t go back to the Weiner well, but I ... can’t ... stop ... myself.
As readers of this space know, I went out on a limb Tuesday and declared that I was inclined to believe the assertion by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) that he didn’t post the link on Twitter to a photo of an underwear-clad man’s crotch. Most of the folks who commented said I was in the tank for Weiner and that he must have uploaded the link himself -- probably in a botched attempt to send a private message to a young female follower in Washington state -- because his explanation simply didn’t hold up. I disagreed then, and still do. Mostly. But his efforts Wednesday to clear the air still left one troubling bit of murkiness.
That would be his apparent inability to recognize whether the crotch in the photo is his own.
Here’s what Weiner told ABC News:
‘I did not send that photo. My system was hacked. I was pranked,’ Weiner said. ‘Somebody sent a picture of a weiner from Weiner’s account. I’ve been hearing that joke since I was 5.’
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.
And here’s a partial transcript of his interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: This is the picture -- I’m sure you’ve seen it by now. Is this you?
WEINER: I can tell you this. We have a firm that we’ve hired -- I’ve seen it, it’s -- I’ve seen it -- a firm that we’ve hired to get to the bottom of it.
I can tell you this, that photos can manipulated. Photos can be of one thing changed to look like something else. We’re going to try to get the bottom of what happened....
BLITZER: Well, we just want to resolve it once and for all. You would know if this is your underpants, for example.
WEINER: The question is -- I appreciate you continuing to flash that at me.
Look, I’ve said the best I can, that we’re going to try to get to the bottom of what happened here. But you know, I just want to caution you -- and you understand this, you’re a pro -- that photographs can be manipulated. Photographs can be taken up from one place and put in another place, photos they can be doctored. And I want to make sure that we know for sure what happened here.
It certainly doesn’t look familiar to me, but I don’t want to say with certitude to you something that I don’t know to be the certain truth....
BLITZER: Have you ever taken a picture of yourself like this?
WEINER: I can tell you this, that there are -- I have photographs. I don’t know what photographs are out there in the world of me. I don’t know what things have been manipulated and doctored, and we’re going to try to find out what happened.
There are only a couple good ways to answer questions like the ones Blitzer posed. One is: ‘I rarely wear underwear, and when I do it’s usually something unusual,’ as Bill Murray so memorably said in ‘Stripes.’ Another is: ‘That’s a pose I’ve never been caught in. Besides, it’s not my good side.’
Weiner’s hesitation suggests that he has been caught in that particular pose, which means we’ve learned something about the congressman that we didn’t need to know. Would the mere existence of such a photo make him a bad person? Unfit for office? Not if the context is two consenting adults, neither of whom is the other’s supervisor. Commenter Mitchell Young correctly made that point on my last post. The only scenario that’s problematic is if he were sexually harassing the 21-year-old female mentioned in the tweet, but she says that wasn’t the case.
For what it’s worth, Weiner offered answers to many of the other questions raised about the incident, including why he would follow and exchange messages with a female college student and a porn star. Blitzer’s interview covers more ground, but it’s worth reading both takes.
-- Jon Healey