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 Baby. She can be followed on Twitter.