Weinergate: scandal vs. crime

Anthony Weiner resigning his US House seat (screengrab ABCNews)

The media’s feeding frenzy was predictable, especially considering the endless possibilities for salacious humor provided by Anthony Weiner’s name. But what political calculations lay behind the eagerness of his own party to torpedo Weiner’s career, even as he was gaining national stature as a leading progressive? Why was Weiner hounded out of office when he committed no crime? Why is Republican David Vitter, who admitted to committing criminal acts, still a U.S. senator? Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel was censured by the House and convicted of 11 ethics violations, but he’s still in office.

The New York Times reported yesterday that conservatives used fake identities on Twitter, posing as young women, with the intention of getting information to discredit and embarrass Weiner. Scarcely one day later, the article is not to be found without drilling down several levels in a search of the website.

What powerful hands yanked such an interesting new angle on the scandal from plain sight?

The best take I’ve seen on The Sins of Anthony Weiner was posted by Rick Hertzberg at the New Yorker. Money quote:

Weiner’s sins consisted of nothing but his own documentation of them. The documentation was the sin, not the acts documented. Without the documentation, not only could no sin be proved, no sin could be committed. Is flexing one’s pecs in the mirror a sin? Is baring one’s penis when there is no one else in the room? Unlike, say, adultery, these become sins only when they are converted to pixels. … It’s a sin to lie, but is it a sin to tweet?

Comparing Weinergate with other sexual political scandals, Hertzberg concludes that

Weiner’s sins, being wholly online, basically onanistic, pathetically “immature,” and totally without direct fleshly carnality, are literally ridiculous.

Something’s fishy.

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Filed under Journalism, People, Politics

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