The Curious Case of Anthony Weiner: Could the Twitter Scandal be Real?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 05:54 PM

Even if you've spent this holiday weekend barbecuing and laying on a beach, and unless you're a GOP House member, you've probably heard that Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) had an interesting twitter situation happen on Friday night.

In the midst of the Congressman tweeting about a hockey game, a lewd photo appeared in his timeline. It was "addressed" to a young lady in Seattle. It was quickly removed but not before being spread far and wide.

If you're not a twitter user, you may not be aware how easy it is to accidentally send a private message as a public broadcast. Here's my friend Iggy asking his 3614 followers if we're on for lunch tomorrow and here's his correction later. Here's reality star Lisa Vanderpump wishing someone well and her correction. These are just two examples in the last few days. It happens all the time. It's happened to the best of us.

That's why it was clear to most regular twitter users exactly what had happened. Congressman Weiner meant to send the photo privately but made the same mistake as Iggy and Lisa--with slightly worse-off consequences.

He immediately pronounced that he had been hacked. Blogger Ace of Spades took to his own twitter account through the weekend to completely demolish that possibility. Among the reasons it's just not possible that Weiner's account had been hacked:

1. Anyone who has ever experienced a hacking knows that hackers generally change the hackee's password. Weiner was able to get right back into his twitter account to delete the tweet and to continue his own tweeting (which included joking about being "#hacked!" and calling Congresswoman Bachmann "crazy" as if she's the one sending pictures of her genitalia to co-eds).

2. Weiner's twitter account is a "verified" twitter account, that means twitter has confirmed that it is indeed the account of the named person. Twitter takes the verified status very seriously and would have immediately pulled it if a hacking had occurred. Additionally, twitter could provide a list of all IP addresses that had accessed Weiner's account. Why hasn't he pursued that?

3. The most damning is the lack of involvement from law enforcement agents. If this was actually a hack, the police and FBI would be involved. Sarah Palin's email got hacked and her hacker went to jail.

There was a lot of suspicious activity following the posting of the photo, such as Weiner deleting all of his photos and the recipient of the photo immediately deleting her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The girl clearly had a crush on the Congressman, referring to him as her boyfriend in a previous tweet. Sure, she was likely joking (and I admit to having referred to half a dozen musicians, chefs and conservative political writers as my "future husband" in my 20's) but it seems awfully convenient that a suggestive pic was sent to someone who might be open to receiving it.

Additionally, the co-ed was one of under 200 people Weiner followed on twitter (he is followed by tens of thousands). Why her? Peter Ingemi, "Da Tech Guy" explains just how suspicious this is in an op-ed in the NY Post today:

Coincidences all, but there’s one more that millions of Twitter users will understand best: On Twitter, famous people tend to have tens of thousands to millions of followers — but they themselves follow only a fraction of that amount. Rep. Weiner is a man of national prominence, a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently on TV, a past and likely future candidate for mayor. He knows and is known by thousands of movers, shakers, members of the press and politicians on the city, state and national levels. Yet, as of yesterday, he was following fewer than 200 others — and, with all those famous folks to choose from, one of the few he followed was Cordova, a 21-year-old college student who lives nearly 3,000 miles away in Bellingham,Wash.

To note that this is fishy is an understatement. My husband only follows 37 people on twitter and if one of them was a college girl he didn't know, I'd have a slight issue with that.

What had been extra annoying for anyone paying attention this weekend is the media's "reporting" on this amounted to taking the word of Anthony Weiner's spokesman. I actually gave the media the benefit of the doubt that it was a holiday weekend, many were on vacation, and it does seem that the story has indeed picked up steam on Tuesday when everyone got back to work. But some reporters seem unclear on the duties of their profession. Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's Reliable Sources program, Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast and, as described on his Wikipedia page, "the nation's most influential media reporter" declared that the "whole thing appears to be faked," based on no evidence at all. He further proclaimed that people "don't understand that journalists need evidence." I always thought journalists collected evidence and didn't just hope some would pop up. Crazy (like Bachmann), I know!

Weiner has now changed the official story from "hacked" to "prank", presumably because one requires law enforcement intervention and the other can be dismissed with an eye-roll. He is trying to seem above this little "sending lewd photos to a 21-year old" scandal. He won't answer whether that's him in the photo. He nonsensically compares the photo being posted to a heckler at an event (which would only make sense if he heckled himself). He brusquely says he'd like to go back to work. I'm sure he would. I'm sure Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Chris Lee and heck, John Edwards, wanted to go back to their very important work too. Our world doesn't work like that. The truth will come out and it seems very obvious what that truth will be.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.


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Comments [53]

Karol from NYC

Thanks, Jack. :-) I'm going to go further out on a limb and bet at some point there is a story that he did meet women in person. It's just the natural next step. I could be wrong but I suspect there's more.

Jun. 06 2011 07:32 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Apologies to Karol and this board. I was willing to believe the congressman and am still willing to believe that his denial of meeting any of the persons in question is real.

Breitbart is still not to be trusted. Anthony Weiner is not to be trusted alone with your daughter.

Jun. 06 2011 07:04 PM
Art Van Delay from NYC

Ok, in no particular order, we are awaiting apologies from the following commenters for their disparaging comments and for being suckers who couldn't see the truth if it hit em in the face:
AtSmalls, Stephen from Manhattan, Jim from Brooklyn (Still think Karol was "smearing" ??), Louise from North Brunswick, Jack Jackson from C, fkoszeg, Marie from New York City, steve from NY, NY (good call on Breitbart being the story), Bradley Heberling from NYC, idobelis from NYC (still incensed, are ya?), RationalThinker (not looking so rational anymore).

Jun. 06 2011 05:56 PM
Karol from NYC

If Weiner was indeed hacked, his one and only move should be to call the FBI. We would have a definitive answer on what happened. Instead, he hired a private firm to investigate and assure that we'll never know what happened. This wasn't a hacking. This was exactly what it seems.

Jun. 04 2011 02:07 PM
a g from n j

well,it looks like giuliani might just stop pimping 911,now that he's got something else to "hold on to".

Jun. 03 2011 08:06 AM

I'm not surprised that a 'veteran of Republican campaigns in four states' and a 'conservative' would be carrying dirty water for Breitbart's latest smear.

Here's some real articles & real journalism.

Why does WNYC provide an avenue for this type of dirty tricks campaign?

'It's a Free Country' also means Responsibility.

Jun. 02 2011 02:58 PM
idobelis from NYC

I am not only incensed that even a blog written under the auspices of WNYC should dwell on this hyped-up nonevent, but I am even more disgusted with the Brian Lehrer show for giving it such fanfare. I find Lehrer less and less relevant, and I have been listening for a long time.

Jun. 02 2011 10:56 AM
rachael from montclair,nj

These guys never learn from even recent history; Elliot Spitzer comes to mind. My fourth grader could let these guys know that cell phones, and the internet ARE NOT PRIVATE. Put your underwear out there and it will be found.

Jun. 02 2011 10:43 AM
Bradley Heberling from NYC

This is so unimportant.
There are so many issues this country has to deal with.
The photo was hardly lewd in this day and age.
The girl says she has never been in contact with the Rep. The Rep says he does not her. The girl says she never saw the picture.
If this photo was of Mr Weiner it was obviously meant to be private.
Rqachel Maddow had her staff try to hack a Twitter account and change a photo.
It took her staff about 30 minutes.

Just stop this ridiculousness and get back to work.


Jun. 02 2011 10:39 AM
nikki cupcake from saddle brook, nj

why are we talking about some guy in his underwear instead of the real issues!

she was over 18 he did nothing illegal, if he really did do it!

Jun. 02 2011 10:32 AM

The man is a bloody idiot for even attempting to send this regardless of if it is a private matter or not. These several "social" connections are rarely private. Probably among those people in Congress who blather endlessly about morality and "family values" and Christian morality.

Jun. 02 2011 10:19 AM
steve from NY, NY

Breitbart is the story, not Weiner.

The repeated fraud and fakery from Breitbart, and the fact that the mainstream media keeps falling for it, is the obvious real issue.

As IT people who actually know something have pointed out, for a whole bunch of reasons this is obviously a hack. Given how twitter works, it does not matter if the photo is him or not, still an obvious hack. see:

Jun. 02 2011 10:15 AM

@Glork from Belleville NJj

I agree with you 100%. He's a public figure and he has to expect that he's going to be under even more scrutiny than a regular citizen and he should act accordingly.

And to those who think comments about his bad behavior is sophomoric; sending pictures of his wang--now THAT'S very sophomoric in my opinion!

Jun. 02 2011 09:43 AM
Glork from Belleville NJj

Just skimming these comments, you can tell how low we've dropped our standards of decency. What can any parent with a sense of morality say to their teenagers? With people tacitly approving of this and calling it "meaningless", the opportunity to introduce the words''self-respect" to young children is, well, lost.

Jun. 02 2011 09:04 AM
Harrison Bergeron from Fair Lawn NJ

Perhaps the young lady is a biology student and the gentleman was helping her with material for a school assignment?

Jun. 02 2011 08:27 AM

"Co-ed"? What year is it?

Jun. 02 2011 06:24 AM
Jim from Brooklyn

"Anyone gets a kick out of those spurious accusations? Does public flogging with sexual overtone turn anyone on?"

Yes, apparently: Karol Markowicz.

Jun. 01 2011 09:26 PM
Marie from New York City

The holier-than-thou tone of this segment is sickening. If Weiner made a mistake, he just misdirected his send. Blabbering over that is base and contemptible. Anyone gets a kick out of those spurious accusations? Does public flogging with sexual overtone turn anyone on?

Jun. 01 2011 09:25 PM

Are you kidding me? Whether he did or did not send this - fairly innocuous, if ridiculous - picture to his fan girl it absolutely does not compare to any of the guys this Republican hack posing as journalist enumerates. Repeatedly hiring prostitutes, getting a blow job from the intern, or sleeping around while posing as upstanding family men have nothing in common with this idiocy.

I have no idea why WNYC lets this woman write for them.

Jun. 01 2011 09:11 PM
Mary Chione from Staten Island

When Mr. Weiner first threw his hat in the ring for mayor, my then-boss chuckled, "Mayor Weiner? I don't think so." His name is as unfortunate as a professional I once met named Wellington Hung, and this Tweet is just too, too clearly a play on that. It's sophomoric childishness. I don't understand the guy's reactions, but he may have access to info we do not and that is coloring his response. I much prefer the benefit of the doubt here, and focusing on issues of greater substance than an image of an unknown crotch.

Jun. 01 2011 09:03 PM
Jimmy Alpha

I'm thinking if it wasn't his wife fooling with his account, it was someone else in his house on his open computer?

Jun. 01 2011 08:36 PM
Jack Jackson from C

Possible? Yes.

Probable? Nope.

Considering the source (Breitbart) I would need waaaaaay more corroborating evidence to believe (or even suspect) that the Congressman did what he is accused of doing.

Jun. 01 2011 08:31 PM
manhattan hockey mom

Maybe it's good that Weiner is wasting his time and looking dumb with Twittergate. He'll have less time to enact destructive legislation!

Jun. 01 2011 07:20 PM
Karol from NYC

This isn't comparable to Chris Lee. Lee didn't resign because of a photograph. The photograph was part of a personal ad. The ad was Lee trolling for hook-ups as a single swinging guy - when he was actually a married man, living in DC without his wife.

And this is different from sending the pic Weiner Ask any wife which would be ok for her husband to do.

"From what I can tell, this is far more likely to be a dirty trick to smear and defame Weiner than an actual tweet."

Based on what evidence? There is zero to support this. It's nice that you like Weiner so much but not accepting facts won't help him.

""He won't answer if that's him in the photo?" Smear away, Karol."

Watch ANY of the interviews Weiner has given today. He refuses to answer whether it's him in the photograph. Again, FACTS.

Jun. 01 2011 07:10 PM
Louise from North Brunswick

Time to resign? You are joking, I hope. Resign - for what?

This isn't comparable to Chris Lee. Lee didn't resign because of a photograph. The photograph was part of a personal ad. The ad was Lee trolling for hook-ups as a single swinging guy - when he was actually a married man, living in DC without his wife.

This is a photo of an unidentifiable man who's not even naked. For all we know, it's a dildo stuck in a pair of boxers belonging to someone completely different. It's not like the boxers have a name tag on them identifying them as Weiner's.

Consider how many times Gingrich actually had sex with - and on his GOP office desk in DC - while he was married, and yet his career has not particularly harmed. Weiner never even met this woman.

From what I can tell, this is far more likely to be a dirty trick to smear and defame Weiner than an actual tweet. It is an obvious ploy to force Weiner to resign - or to attempt to render him ineffectual. The hacking of yfrog is the evidence of how it was done. But the "why?" is the part that Karol is ignoring.

Friday Weiner sent out a letter calling Supreme Court Justice Thomas on the carpet for his corruption. Have you heard about it? No, because all you've heard about is this stupid tweet. Thomas's financial papers show that he and his wife received hundreds of thousands of dollars as in "salary" from an organization.directly benefiting from Tomas' decision on health acre. As Weiner's letter stated: Thomas "participated in secretive political strategy sessions, perhaps while the case was pending, with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the <5-4> decision” on the Citizens United case. Your spouse also received an undisclosed salary paid for by undisclosed donors as CEO of Liberty Central, a 501(c)(4) organization that stood to benefit from the decision and played an active role in the 2010 elections."

This is the definition of corruption. Of course, you never heard about it, because you're too busy complicitly assisting in a smear on the messenger.

Jun. 01 2011 06:54 PM
steve mark

Come on, Brian, I've eard the deliciously smug Weinrer on your show numerous times. I heard O'Reily go after hiim but that's expected. You owe it to we listeners to have Weiner show up and answer the questions raised in this blog.

Jun. 01 2011 06:35 PM

Give me a break....

Jun. 01 2011 06:31 PM
Jim from Brooklyn

"He won't answer if that's him in the photo?" Smear away, Karol.

I haven't been a WNYC supporter for years, but if I still was, I'd be calling up your membership office right now and canceling after reading this hateful, gossipy crap.

Jun. 01 2011 06:30 PM
Allie from Redmond, WA

Has EVERYONE missed that it's a kinda funny "hack" to broadcast a pic of a "weiner" from the twitter account of a dude named Weiner?! Don't you guys all think it could genuinely be that simple? Stay tuned for hack-attacks to the accounts of Captain Underpants, President Bush and anyone with monikers the likes of "Johnson," "Dick," and especially to the rest of the "Weiner" fam. Lighten up. All parties allegedly "involved" have said this was not a "thing."

Jun. 01 2011 06:19 PM
KT from CT

Good thing he's a Democrat. If he were a member of "the other party", he would be reamed out by all media, and condemned as the most vicious sexual predator to have ever walked the face of the earth, and crowds advocating drawing and quartering, and other such punishments equally gruesome, would be screaming from the rooftops. Good luck, Tony! Hope you beat the rap!!

Jun. 01 2011 06:15 PM
Stephen from Manhattan

WNYC considers this news? I regret ever becoming a member.

Jun. 01 2011 06:14 PM

This is another silly distracting bit of nonsense.
There are many actual problems in the world. One of age person sending a photo of his junk to another of age person is not an actual problem.

Jun. 01 2011 06:09 PM

"Even if you've spent this holiday weekend barbecuing and laying on a beach..."
I think you mean "lying". Even Weiner is not accused of "laying," on the beach or, irregularly, anywhere else.

Jun. 01 2011 05:41 PM
Karol from NYC

He denies sending the photo but does not deny that it's him in the photo.

Jun. 01 2011 03:54 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

In Karol's Politico link, Weiner says he didn't send the picture out...

Jun. 01 2011 03:53 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

CORRECTION: Weiner should deny or NOT. If he did it, fess up. It doesn't have to be a career-ender. Maybe there was back and forth between him and the woman that cued it -- at which point, that's between him and his wife. He'll be embarassed, but he can survive...

Jun. 01 2011 03:44 PM
Karol from NYC

FM, I somehow missed your comment below so I'll respond now.

"Many more people used #WeinerYes? How many more? Is this actually true or are you just guessing?"

Actually Weiner tweeted that he was being overloaded with #weineryes requests and he was going to stop the game.

"Regardless, I find the idea that it's somehow suspicious, inappropriate or naughty for Weiner to Twitter follow "the co-ed" strange (the perspective of someone who doesn't use Twitter, perhaps?)."

I'm an avid twitter user (@karolnyc). It's only suspicious because A) his position and B) he followed so few people. I follow about 400 people so all kinds of people get mixed in. The fewer you follow the more selective you'll be (presumably). Again, my husband follows 37 people and if one of them was a young woman he didn't know, I'd be suspicious. If he followed a 1000 people and there were women he didn't know, less so.

Jun. 01 2011 03:29 PM
Karol from NYC

The guy who Daily Kos is saying hacked Anthony Weiner is ready and willing to talk to any and all authorities. He will answer any and all questions. Why won't Weiner? And how did he get the photo of Weiner's crotch area? Weiner won't even say that it's not him in the pic:

Jun. 01 2011 02:45 PM

Perhaps I was a bit off... this sheds some light on the whole thing:

Jun. 01 2011 02:06 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Of course, if Weiner does resign (and 'weinergate' -- upper or lowercase W -- enjoys a looong shelf life), then it will moreso be because of his cover-up than the act. Really, why won't he just explicitly, vehemently deny it already?

Jun. 01 2011 02:00 PM
FM from NYC

Many more people used #WeinerYes? How many more? Is this actually true or are you just guessing?

Regardless, I find the idea that it's somehow suspicious, inappropriate or naughty for Weiner to Twitter follow "the co-ed" strange (the perspective of someone who doesn't use Twitter, perhaps?).

I follow all kinds of people on Twitter. It means very little. Maybe they followed me, maybe they make interesting points, maybe I think they're funny. Following someone on Twitter is about as intimate as buying a bagel from the corner bodega-owner.

Jun. 01 2011 01:52 PM

I think it's pretty clear what happened here. Weiner struck up a relationship on Twitter with a well-endowed coed by way of his #weineryes campaign, whose intended purpose may or may not have been to find such girls. Weiner and Cordova probably haven't met (but maybe they have), and they've been exchanging direct messages back and forth, flirting and the like. In fact, it very well may be the case that they send such pictures to each other all the time.

This one particular day when they were flirting, as Karol from NYC mentioned above, he was probably in the midst of some sexual conversation and accidentally tweeted instead of direct messaging, and then all this happened. He's screwed. He's going to resign, and being a liberal from New York City, I'm kind of bummed.

I really wish elected officials would stop resigning for this kind of nonsense. We shouldn't persecute people who are decent politicians but who may be in other respects indecent. You wouldn't end a friendship because your friend cheated on her partner, because you appreciate your friend's other qualities and you forgive her for her mistakes. We should extend this same kind of forgiveness to our elected officials. Show some empathy, and end the hypocrisy.

Sorry for the rant, I'm still cranky about the Spitzer resignation :P

Jun. 01 2011 01:13 PM
Karol from NYC

Fine, but many more people used the #weineryes than he ended up following. Why her? She does not live in his district (or even in the city he hopes to represent as mayor).

Jun. 01 2011 11:19 AM
FM from NYC

This tweet, from May 13, may explain why he was following this young woman.

"RT @RepWeiner Thanks so much for following me. Would you like me to follow you? Use #WeinerYes"

Jun. 01 2011 11:09 AM
Karol from NYC

Thank you so much for the comments. Millowent, just so you know: I am a conservative but I come down very hard on the Chris Lees and Mark Foleys of the world regardless of their political affiliation. Mark Sanford was one of my favorite politicians but I called that he was having an affair (so obvious to me that he wasn't hiking anywhere) fairly early and called for him to resign. So I appreciate that we put our political biases on hold to get rid of these kinds of people in our political system.

I agree with Don that it's not weird at all that only one person saw the tweet though you make a good point about yfrog. Still, in the heat of sexual conversation (I assume he didn't just send the pic without any provocation) I can imagine him just not thinking straight.

Weiner's behavior since this post was published has only made him look guiltier. He won't answer any questions at all. If it were my account and I didn't do it I'd say: that photo is not me, I did not send that photo, story over. He won't deny anything, just keeps repeating soundbites.

Jun. 01 2011 10:21 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

This is news, because it has been news for other high-profilers in similar s-ituations. Even if the act could somehow NOT be construed as lewd, inappropriate for a married public official and possibly sexually-harassing, the cover-up/ denial is scandalous -- as is too often the case. If it is NOT news, then a rigorous news-reporting organization should make a statement to that effect, with explanation. It's why I'm scandalized that BRIAN LEHRER, whom I listen to religiously, has not scheduled this as a topic on his show. Is this NOT biased media favoritism? I'm disappointed.

Jun. 01 2011 09:41 AM

@don - i agree with you now that the # of the people who would have seen the tweet in their twitter feed must be pretty small. only people following both of them. however, i do wonder how wide the tweetcongress stream would be seen?

Jun. 01 2011 09:18 AM
Brian from NYC

Well said, though you spell Michele Bahmann's name wrong a couple times.

Jun. 01 2011 08:35 AM

For Karol: just to correct the timeline, Weiner was not "in the midst" of tweeting about hockey when this happened. His twitter account had been silent (at least to the general public) for over 3 hours when the tweet with the picture first showed up.

Then after it was quickly deleted, he began tweeting.

To milowent: It seems to be coming up in the media alot about how only one person noticed this alleged tweet, but it's actually not that unusual. (The media does slowly seem to be figuring this out.)

Because of the way Weiner's tweet was directed @ this young lady, for the most part, only those who were following BOTH people -- Weiner and the girl -- would have had that tweet appear in their live twitter feed. (It's also possible that people not following both parties could have seen the tweet if they made a specific change to their settings.)

Either way, when you factor that information into the equation, it shrinks the amount of people who could have seen the tweet from over 40,000 (who follow Rep. Weiner) to a much, much, smaller group of people. For the most part, I would imagine that list is mostly made up of friends of the girl who are also fans of Rep. Weiner.

Thus, it's not that unusual that only one person* happened to catch it, especially given the late hour this occured and how quickly the tweet was removed.

(*only one person is said to have retweeted it, but there is more than one account of someone claiming to have seen the tweet when it was made.)

Jun. 01 2011 01:50 AM


Jun. 01 2011 12:54 AM
Swamp Thing

Not just a college girl, a very pretty college girl with large breasts.

He's got taste in college girls, but I'm not sure a crotch shot is going to get him what he's after.

Jun. 01 2011 12:26 AM

by all means, let's study this, but we have to try to be unbiased about the facts. i'm liberal, but i bashed dan rather to death in 2004 for his faked national guard docs.

yfrog is a public posting service, you would never use that to upload a photo that you intended to share privately; as soon as its uploaded its public, whether you tweet it or not. yfrog and twitter are linked so that you can log into yfrog with a twitter password, so the "hacking" here would not be too difficult (not simple, but possible with a good phish). the use of yfrog to upload the photo weighs against this being a legitimate tweet.

very oddly, only ONE person claims to have seen the original tweet when it was sent, so it was removed very quickly. that one person also seems to be very opposed to Weiner, and even tweeted derisively about Weiner following young woman like the specific woman in question in the last month. it is possible however, that patriotusa76 has nothing to to with the upload. certainly he didn't take a screencap to prove what he saw. tweetcongress backed up him up independently with its cache.

the lack of FBI involvement only means Weiner did not involve the FBI, that we know about. the same with Twitter officials. most people were not working this past weekend, and the internet moves far faster than most any investigation.

regarding the changing of the hackee's password. while this is typical in a phish/hack, it would not be typical if one wanted to make it look like an account was not hacked. a commercial spammer who takes over a facebook account will change a password so they can keep posting spam without the legitimate owner interfering. here, if there was a hack, the inability of weiner to continue posting would make everyone agree there was a hack.

Jun. 01 2011 12:06 AM

Guilty!....this weiner is cooked...time to resign

May. 31 2011 11:04 PM

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