I don’t typically watch cable news, but too many people I follow on Twitter were insisting that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interview with Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was must-see TV. I was able to watch a repeat of the interview, which was good TV, for what it’s worth. Afterwards, there was a segment on crisis communications and how poorly Rep. Weiner has handled the situation.
Now, I’m sure you’re all up to speed on this scandal. On Friday afternoon, a tweet went out from Rep. Weiner’s Twitter account announcing what time he’d be recording the Rachel Maddow show. It included a hashtag with a note about what time that would be for folks in Seattle. Several hours later, a tweet went from the account to a lovely young Seattle college student. It was a picture of man’s crotch, to put it mildly, and it was immediately deleted. At the same time, a flurry of tweets from Rep. Weiner — about hockey and the problems he was having with Tivo — went out. He also mentioned that his Facebook account had been hacked.
Well, since that time, his story has changed a great deal. He said it wasn’t his Facebook but his social media picture account that was hacked. Then he said it was a prank. Then it was spam. I think we’re currently back on the hack theory. Except that Weiner’s doing himself no favors by saying he’s completely uncertain whether it’s a picture of his own crotch or not. Which led people to wonder just how many pictures one must have of one’s crotch — and other crotches — to have such uncertainty. He’s normally very media savvy so this implosion has been something to see.
I’ve previously discussed my problem with delighting in sex scandals and I certainly hope the rest of you are more mature than me on this front. But the reason I highlight it all here is because of this amazing segment I heard on CNN about crisis communications. It’s embedded above and was hosted by anchor Jessica Yellin. Here is my transcript:
Yellin: Do you think he should stop talking now, Is that your …
Terry Holt, former Bush-Cheney strategist: In this case, less is more. The story has run its course, it should have run its course days ago. He just kept thinking he could get on top of it and he can’t.
Yellin: Let me ask you that, Chris, because He made the case that the media’s made too much of this.
And to be honest he’s never been a crusader on social issues so you can’t argue he’s been a hypocrite here, you know a morality hypocrite.
He, apparently, from all evidence we’ve seen, he didn’t break the law. So it does raise the question: is this getting too much media attention?
OK, so did you catch that line? “And to be honest he’s never been a crusader on social issues so you can’t argue he’s been a hypocrite here, you know a morality hypocrite.”
What? Hypocrisy has been redefined so much I can hardly keep up with it. But are we now saying that you can only be a hypocrite if you’re a “crusader on social issues”? I’m not even going to focus on the crusader language but the more general idea.
For all I know, Rep. Weiner really was hacked and is responding to it in the weirdest, most self-destructive way possible. But at the very least, Rep. Weiner, one of Forward‘s 50 most influential Jews, is married. He’s married to the lovely Huma Abedin, in fact. And I don’t know about his marriage, but generally speaking, if he took and sent pictures of his clothed but aroused manbits and sent them to a lady who was not his wife, that would be behavior contrary to his public persona as a married man.
I’d also like to note, here, that hypocrisy isn’t falling short of one’s standards but, rather, pretending to have standards that one doesn’t have. It’s a much more difficult charge to prove than the reckless use of the phrase would indicate. But we know how the media use that phrase.
In any case, Yellin’s comment is just completely bizarre to act like social liberals shouldn’t be expected to honor their marriage vows. We could take that further, too — if Weiner wasn’t
hacked pranked spammed whatever, and he is instead lying, that would also be bad moral behavior. Voting 100% in line with NARAL doesn’t mean you get a free pass on infidelity, lying, or whatever else might be in play here. If there is one thing that confuses me the most about scandal coverage, it’s how the media pretend that there are only like three sins in the world and the chief one is hypocrisy. Come on, people.