Anthony Weiner’s dance with the sexting devil
Let’s just be happy, for a moment, that at least this time Anthony Weiner didn’t blame Al Qaeda.
In 2011, when allegations first arose that Weiner had been sending inappropriate messages and pictures to several women, he vehemently denied them. Weiner, a member of Congress at that point, even attempted to shift the blame onto Al Qaeda:
This was a prank intended to derail me or distract me, whatever it is. It is not a federal case. Now maybe it will turn out, forgive me, maybe it will turn out that this is the point of Al Qaeda’s sword.
Perhaps, at the time, one could have believed that Weiner, who is now a New York mayoral candidate, had actually been pranked. After all, his brash persona had probably earned him more enemies than friends in Washington.
Now, though, it’s clear that this was never a prank; it was Weiner all along. And Monday, new reports surfaced that Weiner had continued sexting even after he resigned from Congress:
An online gossip site called The Dirty posted screenshots Monday of online messages between an account in the name of Anthony Weiner and that of an unidentified woman. The site said the messages were sent last August, more than a year after Weiner left Congress. Weiner discusses her potential involvement in a blog for Politico, the political news site, and talks about his cats. He also asks the woman to delete other messages they exchanged.
A second, salacious chat exchange posted by The Dirty was from an account using the name Carlos Danger, which the site, quoting the unidentified woman, says is Weiner.
In a much-awaited news conference Tuesday afternoon, Weiner confirmed some of the new information and apologized to his wife for his transgressions (as some on Twitter noted, it’s likely he was sexting throughout her pregnancy).
There’s a lot to like about Weiner. And his apology Tuesday was forthright and upfront. He didn’t point fingers at Al Qaeda this time. Instead, he took responsibility.
Still, Weiner has a lot of work to do to repair what is a gaping disconnect between what he says publicly and what he does privately.
Weiner says he sent his last sext in the summer of 2012. But as Buzzfeed reported Tuesday, Weiner was then simultaneously working to repair his public image:
A high-profile interview with People magazine seen as a first step in rehabilitating his tattered image came a week after Anthony Weiner allegedly started an online relationship with a woman that quickly descended into dirty messages and pictures.
According to the gossip website The Dirty, Weiner and his alleged sexting partner began talking on July 12, 2012. One week later, Weiner’s first interview with his wife Huma Abedin where he addressed the sexting scandal that brought down his career ran in People.
Weiner is, of course, entitled to privacy. But when he attempts to use his family life to rehabilitate his public one, it opens his private life to scrutiny. And when he gives an interview for a piece that provides a portrayal in direct contrast with his actual behavior, he’s going to get it.
It’s also worth noting that this contradiction is nothing new. It certainly stretches as far back as the Al Qaeda remarks, in which he publicly blamed the terrorist organization for something he privately knew he was entirely responsible for.
Weiner should not discount the impact of what it means to the public that he continued to sext after he resigned because of it.
Weiner has a lot of work to do in the next few days that extends beyond an apology. To repair his professional image, Weiner must continue to try to convince voters that he’s closed the disconnect between how he portrays himself publicly and what he does behind closed doors.
Follow Daniel Rothberg on Twitter: @danielrothberg
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