Monday, May 30, 2011

The Weiner smear: The Mark of Breitbart (UPDATE: The NYT gets it wrong...again!)

I had hoped not to have to speak about the lewd photo sent (allegedly) from Representative Anthony Weiner to an attractive college student. From the start, I presumed this to be another one of Andrew Breitbart's foul tricks. Alas, it looks like we must address this silliness. The story is all over the news today, and the headlines are incredibly biased.

The NY Daily News blares in a headline:
Student who got lewd pic from Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter account denies she's his mistress
You have to read the story (instead of just skimming the headline, as many will do) to learn that she actually denies that the image came from the congressman. In other words, the headline stipulates as fact the very point in contention. Petitio principii is now considered journalism.

The New York Post's headline is worse:
Weiner goes to great lengths
Thank you, Beavis.

The truth of the matter is starting to become clear. The woman in question had been a follower of Congressman Weiner via Twitter. I've long warned people to avoid Twitter and Facebook; now, perhaps, more people will understand the dangers. This current story about the recent intrusion into the PBS website should remind us the capabilities of hackers.

The alleged Weiner photo first appeared on Brietbart's smear site. If you don't yet know that Breitbart is a liar, you're so dumb you probably can't spit without an instructional video.

The woman in question, Gennette Nicole Cordova, has issued this statement which should (but probably won't) end any debate as to what really happened.
Friday evening I logged onto Twitter to find that I had about a dozen new mentions in less than an hour, which is a rare occurrence. When I checked one of the posts that I had been tagged in I saw that it was a picture that had supposedly been tweeted to me by Congressman Anthony Weiner.

The account that these tweets were sent from was familiar to me; this person had harassed me many times after the Congressman followed me on Twitter a month or so ago. Since I had dealt with this person and his cohorts before I assumed that the tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the Congressman and harassing his supporters.

Annoyed, I responded with something along the lines of "are you f***ing kidding me?" and "I've never seen this. You people are sick." I blocked their accounts, made my page private, and let the matter drop, expecting them to eventually do the same.

Within about an hour, however, I realized that I had grossly underestimated the severity of the situation that I had somehow become a part of.

The last 36 hours have been the most confusing, anxiety-ridden hours of my life. I've watched in sheer disbelief as my name, age, location, links to any social networking site I've ever used, my old phone numbers and pictures have been passed along from stranger to stranger.

My friends have received phone calls from people claiming to be old friends of mine, attempting to obtain my contact information. My siblings have received tweets that are similar in nature. I began taking steps, though not quickly enough, to remove as much personal information from the Internet as possible.

Not because I "was exposed as Weiner's mistress" or because I "was responsible for the hack," as Gawker has suggested. I removed my information because I, believe it or not, do not enjoy being harassed or being the reason that my loved ones are targets of harassment.

I have seen myself labeled as the "Femme Fatale of Weinergate," "Anthony Weiner's 21-year-old coed mistress" and "the self-proclaimed girlfriend of Anthony Weiner."

All of this is so outlandish that I don't know whether to be pissed off or amused, quite frankly. This is the reality of sharing information online in the 21st century. Things that I never imagined people would care about are now being plastered all over blog sites, including pictures of me from when I was 17 and tweets that have been taken completely out of context. I tweeted once (it was reported that I said it twice) that "I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to."

I am a 21-year-old college student from Seattle. I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan. I go to school in Bellingham where I spend all of my time; I've never been to New York or to DC. The point I am trying to make is that, contrary to the impression that I apparently gave from my tweet, I am not his girlfriend. Nor am I the wife, girlfriend or mistress of Barack Obama, Ray Allen or Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that I have made similar assertions about them via Twitter.

There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me. I cannot answer the questions that I do not have the answers to. I am not sure whether or not this letter will alleviate any future harassment. I also do not have a clear understanding as to how or why exactly I am involved in this fiasco. I do know that my life has been seriously impacted by speculation and faulty allegations. My reputation has been called into question by those who lack the character to report the facts.
"My friends have received phone calls from people claiming to be old friends of mine, attempting to obtain my contact information. My siblings have received tweets that are similar in nature." That, my friends, is the mark of Brietbart. Oh, he's probably not doing these things personally -- as with the O'Keefe business, he'll stay at arm's length.

Cordova may be faulted only in this: She is trying to remove personal information that should never have been placed online in the first place. The usual "toothpaste out of the tube" metaphor applies. I'll say it again: There is no reason whatsoever to use social networking sites. Everyone who uses these sites divulges private information (to the world or to the site's administration) that should remain private. Anyone who uses such sites might as well go running down the street naked.

The internet as it existed in 2004 was a safer place. (Before you howl your predictable howls: I said "safer," not "safe.") Don't use Twitter. Don't use Facebook. Stick to blogging, emailing and traditional personal websites. That's all you need. You may think you'll never end up like Ms. Cordova -- whose relatives must now fend off prying phone calls from Brietbart's slime brigade -- but such things could happen to you.

These words come from the Twitter user agreement:
Twitter collects personally identifiable information about its users and shares it with third parties. Twitter considers that information an asset, and reserves the right to sell it if the company changes hands.
Facebook is worse. It may sound like conspiracy paranoia to assert that Zuckerberg's cash cow was developed with CIA money, but facts are facts.

Facebook now requires new subscribers to divulge their cell phone numbers. The only reason they ask for that information is to be able to track your location via GPS. Indeed, the Facebook/government connection may well be the hidden secret behind the Patriot Act, as discussed in our previous post.

Let's hope that the perps behind this smear end up in court, as is happening to Brietbart aide James O'Keefe.

UPDATE: The New York Times gets it wrong -- again. I say "again" because they notoriously refused to correct their original, incorrect stories about the O'Keefe smear. From the NYT:
A woman sent a statement to The Daily News that said she was the one who had received the photo and that she had never met Mr. Weiner, though she did follow him on Twitter.
(Emphasis added.) From the actual statement:
There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.
The tech involved may be confusing, but the meaning of her words is not. She never received the picture, which was allegedly uploaded to a YFrog account connected to the congressman's Twitter account.

Also, the NYT ends it's account with these words:
I tweeted once (it was reported that I said it twice) that ‘I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to.’ ”
The NYT gives a confusing impression by leaving out the young lady's denial that she has ever met or spoken to Wiener. She has, by her own admission, also referred to Barack Obama and others as "boyfriends."

She means this in the same sense that my ladyfriend calls Alton Brown her "boyfriend." (Yeah, I know. Go figure.)

(Despite my lifelong crush on Bernadette, I don't refer to her as my "girlfriend." That would seem inappropriate, what with her being canonized and all.)

I have a theory as to what is really going on here -- and I'll share it with you soon. Right now, I have a Memorial Day "thing" to attend. When BBQ calleth, one must heed.


Mr. Mike said...

The young lady got a little more than 15 minutes. Just about every one in my family posts of FB, they consider my warnings to be the stuff of tin foil. That includes the post grad degreed.

Anonymous said...

Do seriously deny that the photo was sent from Weiner's twitter and yfrog accounts?

Joseph Cannon said...

Do you seriously deny that Breitbart didn't engineer this whole thing? How many times does that guy have be caught creating a smear campaign before dolts like you sense a pattern?

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone take Breitbart seriously? He's the King of the Smear and has been exposed repeatedly. His main objective is to destroy any and all Democrats, some of whom deserve destruction. Weiner is not one of them.

Does this smell of Breitbart and his giddy band of freaks? Yes, it does.

Btw, I neither Tweet nor FB. The term 'Connected' can be easily confused with 'Compromised.'

Tiro said...

Okay, now, Joe. Off the Internet with you for your own safety. Unlike Facebook, which has flighty "someone who is on this board also sits on that board ties" the Internet was fully funded by ARPA before they added the D. So, for your own safety, you've got to stop the blogging now. Also, if you want to be strict about the "this board/ that board" thing, you'll need to also stop driving most domestic cars, and be very selective about your brand of toilet paper and breakfast cereal. But the first step, really, is to shut down operation so that DARPA can stop monitoring you. Or is that what you want? Ah, maybe you are a DARPA honey trap.

Tiro said...

Oh, and, yes--Breitbart is a scumbag. No argument there.

Sextus Propertius said...

I liked the Internet better back when it was the ARPAnet (and yes, I was on it back then) ;-)

I don't use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or any of the other "social media" (with the exception of a very limited LinkedIn profile). I really don't understand the bizarre need for public display that compels people to use these sites.

arbusto205 said...

Joseph, to me, much of what you write about fulfills a similar role to that of public service announcements. I usually agree and don't have any real value added info to provide so I just get a warm feeling that someone is disseminating this kind of pov. So ditto for this article.

Speaking of dissemination though, I do find it a little odd that you constantly warn against social media sites when you've chosen Google (well, one of its parts) to publish your material. I know blogging is not quite the same as building a relationship graph, but it isn't really that different either.

Damn, missed reading all the comments...should have just written 'what Tiro said'.

Rich said...

This is all about Breitbart as the appointed hatchet man of the Rovian Republicans (to the right of McCain, not as far to the right as the tea partiers). And this Rep's got a brookly buttload of opponents.

Weiner is a tough as nails left/lib D w/a lot of enemies -- health insurers, oil oligarchs, Bloomberg, Team Obama (W's Hillary thru + thru and long-time adversary of Axelrod and historic 2010 congressional loser Gaspard of the DNC). But this is Breitbartian in its bonehead frat/boy vulgarity-- wait for felon O'Keefe to emerge in some psycho form or another. But don't wait for the White House to jump to W's defense.

Anonymous said...

"public service announcements"

Curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading.

Immediate Reductions in EIA's Energy Data and Analysis Programs

Anonymous said...

"public service announcements"
"Defence ministers in Westminster have decided that the highly sensitive job of managing more than 200 Trident nuclear warheads, and arming the Royal Navy’s submarines with them, should be taken over by the group of companies within the next year."

djmm said...

Excellent post, Joseph! Thank you!


prowlerzee said...

"My reputation has been called into question by those who lack the character to report the facts."

What an eloquent young woman, good for her.

I'm so glad you're "back" Joseph, and I hope your barbecue was tasty as hell.

Personal Home Inspector said...

It sure does seem suspicious that this Dan Wolfe fellow has been talking up a supposed scandal involving Weiner and the girl for a couple of weeks, and then he is miraculously the only person who saw, or was able to get a screen grab of the picture.

Anonymous said...

You are a dip.

Anonymous said...

the above commenters and posters are temporarily unavailable do to a serious outbreak of foot&mouth disease....

Anonymous said...

Cannonfodder - How fucking embarassing for you. Look, lefties are immoral, lying maggots so it's no surprise you get your ass burned when you beleive them.

The truth is a nasty bitch ain't it?

Bwaaaaaaa. ha. ha. ha.