(If you came here from BigJournalism or some cognate site, check out my latest. You'll love it!)
Alas, I was (on THIS day, of all days) forced to go out into the world to attend to real life. So I'm playing catch-up here. I didn't hear all of Weiner's confession, but the relevant bits are pretty much inescapable.
I'm told that Andrew Breitbart was on the podium speaking at a time when everyone expected to see Weiner. That must have been quite an odd sight! I don't know what Breitbart said, but summary accounts have made it clear that he wanted everyone to know that he was right all along -- even though (as all now admit) he did not vet his sources until he had run their story.
Yes, it is proven that Anthony Weiner had highly sexualized internet relationships via email and chat with various women. Breitbart has strongly intimated that one of the photos in his possession is very, very explicit. It is fair to presume that this image involves an erection sans
Breitbart's repeated references to that photo could be taken as a subtle threat to release it.
A while back, in a comment, I said that I would not believe Anthony Weiner himself if he said that he tweeted that picture on the night of the 27th.
I also said that, were I him, I would make that very "confession." Saying "I sent that picture on the 27th" would be the quickest way to get the whole sorry business into the rear view mirror.
I've also said (from nearly
the beginning) that I suspected that Breitbart's crew had gained access to one or more photos sent to, or taken by, a woman other than Gennette Cordova. A lot of people shared those suspicions -- which have, of course, been justified.
I became confident that the picture did not depict Anthony Weiner. At least, it appeared that something other than his penis inhabited his underwear. Frankly, it still
looks like a shot of a man who is literally
playing "hide the salami." After making an embarrassingly close study of various Weiner photographs, I simply could not believe that he's that
well-hung. To put the matter crudely. (Many of my readers suggested that he had thrust a forearm into his undies.)
Anthony Weiner today said that he sent the picture via Twitter to Gennette Cordova. He said that he had never spoken to her on a personal level. She tells the same story, and there is no reason to doubt her.
Thus, Weiner made the most amazing confession conceivable: That he just sent a crotch shot out of the blue to someone he did not know
. Worse, he used Twitter -- which places all images on public display, even when sent as a direct message. (The example here
proves the point; that painting was sent by "Chalice" as a DM, yet it is also public.) Moreover, he did this incredible thing knowing full well that there were political enemies tracking his every move on Twitter.
I don't believe that scenario. I accept every part of his confession except for the statement about the night of the 27th.
I wouldn't believe that part if Weiner personally called me up and insisted.
Lots of guys have made incredibly
dumb mistakes when thinking with their "downstairs" brain. Lord knows I have. But I've never encountered a sufferer from "testosterone poisoning" who has ever done anything quite that
foolish. Even a private citizen would not (unless protected by anonymity) send out a crotch shot to a woman he did not know.
My imagination is as good as anyone else's, but my brain refuses to accept the possibility.
Why would he lie about the night of the 27th? Because, as is now established, and as we have all long suspected, there is a lot else
in his history that he does not want investigated or discussed further.
In particular, Breitbart has made it clear that he possesses an explicit shot, probably involving an erection. If I were Weiner, I might say anything -- anything
-- to forestall that image from being made public.
Breitbart clearly demanded public justification for his decision to run a story based on a shady source whose name he does not know, and whom he himself had come to suspect of malfeasance.
Did Breitbart contact the congressman and blackmail him?
That's hardly necessary. Breitbart's own words this day constitute an implied threat. He has said that he possesses an extremely explicit photo which he would prefer not to show. That as-yet unseen photo constitutes a Sword of Damocles (no pun intended). Perhaps without realizing the implications, Breitbart has today made statements which place him perilously close to the "Charles Augustus Milverton" category.
If I were Weiner, I would have said exactly what he said today, even if I had not sent the picture on the 27th.
Now that he has said what so many wanted him to say, he hopes that the whole affair will go away within a couple of weeks. Perhaps it will. Already, some newsfolk seem bored. (That
was fast!) Even one Republican commentator has said that the story won't have legs because no laws were broken and the congressman's constituency will probably forgive him.
Suppose that Weiner had said: "I am guilty of improper relationships with half a dozen women, and I am guilty of sending these women erotic photos, but I did not send that picture to Gennette Cordova on the 27th." What would be the result?
Obviously, the journalistic feeding frenzy would continue for months
More importantly, Breitbart would, under those circumstances, release the ultra-explicit photo, which probably depicts an erection. That shot would be published ad infinitum
for the rest of Weiner's life.
Faced with that rotten choice, I would have gone with the "Get it over with as soon as possible" option.That
said, the question arises: Will the erection photo come out anyways? Probably. The people who possess it cannot be trusted. Breitbart probably won't release it, but someone else may.
I really don't care who gets pissed off by what I'm saying. This blog has pissed off people before. It survived the 2008 attacks.
No-one can deny that a "Get Weiner" conspiracy existed. No one can deny that one member of this group bragged about his knowledge as a "cyber sleuth." As I learned only recently, Twitter passwords are notoriously easy to to crack. There's an inexpensive app that can do the job quickly.
Since most people use one password (or minute variations on that password) across many accounts, anyone who had Weiner's Twitter password would probably have gained access to the man's Yahoo, AOL and Facebook pages. That is probably how the photos came into the possession of Breitbart's sources.
It is noteworthy that, before this scandal blew open, Weiner complained about his Facebook account being "hacked." At least some of the defamatory information concerned a Facebook relationship.
Would I recant what I'm saying here if an IP trace indicated that Weiner sent the Tweet? No. Here's why
Will I ever apologize to Andrew Breitbart? Only if he goes back in time and erases his whole history.
His brand of sexual "gotcha" journalism and his reliance on iffy sources were hardly justified by anything Weiner said today. When Drudge broke the Monica Lewinski story, he relied on a single source that mainstream journalists had rejected. Just because that story proved true doesn't mean that Drudge acted responsibly, or that he is anything but a slimeball. Why should we hold a differing view of Breitbart?
As noted earlier, I've long known of a potential sexual scandal which, if revealed, could do enormous harm to Barack Obama's White House, even though the story is not about him. I despise
Obama. But I won't try to damage his administration (or a Republican administration) via a single-source story about sex -- a story involving no broken laws.
(Incidentally, that story concerns something worse than anything Anthony Weiner spoke about today.)
Will I apologize to Dan Wolfe? No. In the first place, "Dan Wolfe" appears to be a fake name, and one should not apologize to fictional characters. In the second place, I said that Dan Wolfe tried to frame a congressman. Even if we were to stipulate that everything Weiner said today was true, it is still provably the case that the man who called himself Dan Wolfe tried to frame a congressman.
Is it technically possible for the Yfrog exploit (the subject of one of the most popular posts in this blog's history) to be used to create a fake Tweet sent "via Tweetdeck"? Earlier today, I was going to backtrack on that assertion. This morning, however, I received a private communication from someone who claimed to know about hacking. This person insisted that the "sent via Tweetdeck" message can be spoofed. Alas, he didn't go into much detail. I don't know this fellow and don't know if what he says is on the level; he hasn't explained in layman's terms just how one goes about doing such a thing.
But as a matter of general principle, if an IP address can be spoofed, then one can only imagine what else is possible.Underaged?
Let's talk about an issue which, I understand, played some role in the press conference. Weiner was asked how he knew that the women with whom he had sexually-charged communications were, in fact, of age.
That's a damned good point.
This very day, thousands -- perhaps millions -- of men and women all over the globe will have sexualized cyber-dialogue with other men and women. How much do these people truly know
about the person on the other side?
I've never told the following story to anyone, and it's pretty easy to guess what use my enemies will make of it. Nevertheless...
Way back in 1995, not long after I first acquired an internet-ready computer, I made the cyber acquaintance of a lady we will here call Madeleine. She claimed to be 44 years old -- older than I was at the time. She also claimed to be a former research scientist living in another state. Our dialogue soon became...hmm. How to put this? It was much (much
) heavier than flirtation but could not be classified as cybersex. Although we never exchanged photos or spoke voice, I repeatedly asked to meet her.
This woman was phenomenally
articulate, intelligent, well-read and well-traveled. She demonstrated knowledge of foreign languages. Anyone chatting with her would presume that she had been to graduate school.
After some time, we drifted apart.
Two years later, Madeleine contacted me and apologized for her impersonation. She admitted that she was 17 at the time we met online. Seventeen was above the age of consent in her state but not in mine. For the first time, she sent me a photo, and I cringed
to see the face of someone young enough to be my daughter.
Sweartagod, I had no
idea. She could have fooled anyone.
So...yeah: Trusting the other person is a very
real problem.One final request:
I still have not heard the whole of the press conference. Can anyone tell me if Weiner admitted to physical contact with any of the women with whom he had cyber relationships?
Oh...and do I forgive Weiner? Well, doing this research required two
Twitter accounts, even though one is too many. That's unforgivable.