"If I was giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone stood up and heckled in the back I wouldn’t spend three days talking to him."
Congressman Anthony Weiner spoke these words to DC journalists including CNN's Dana Bash yesterday, explaining why he will no longer answer any questions about the social media scandal known as Weinergate. He continued, “I’ve participated in the story a couple of days now. Given comments on it. This is a distraction and I’m not going to let it distract me.”
Representative Weiner's statements could not be more wrong. A "heckler" on Twitter would be someone in his mentions feed giving him grief, who he can easily block and forget. What happened last Friday was more akin to someone jumping on stage, grabbing his mic and shouting an obscenity to the crowd, if we assume his "prank" story is true. To continue looking at it via his analogy, no one is asking him to prattle at length about the heckler; the press is asking him to tell security to find the guy. That's all.
The beleaguered Congressman could have avoided this media frenzy with only minutes of activity on his end. He could have even told a staffer to take care of it. Within hours, the technical support of Yfrog, Twitter, or Facebook could have verified Weiner's "hacked" claim and released a public statement corroborating his story. Alternatively, if he had reported the incident to law enforcement and told the press an investigation was underway, he wouldn't find Dana Bash confronting him on the House steps. With all this in mind, who is prolonging this "distraction"? The reporters who confronted him yesterday explicitly said, "All you have to do is say is 'No' to the question [of whether he sent the photo himself]."
Furthermore, Weiner's reluctance to spend the few minutes necessary to ask Twitter or Yfrog to publicly corroborate his explanation of the tweet is causing suffering for private citizens Gennette Nicole Cordova and Dan Wolfe. Cordova has revealed on Twitter that journalists have harassed and accosted her friends and family in person, and Wolfe has received death threats due to allegations that he was involved in sending the tweet from the @RepWeiner account. As reported earlier on Big Government, Wolfe insists that a forensic investigation would prove he did not hack into Congressman Weiner's Twitter or Yfrog. Had Weiner contacted either company on Friday evening or Saturday morning, Wolfe and Cordova would not be facing the same ordeals they do now.
Weinergate is not that big a story, only considering last Friday's events. If you'll remember New York Congressman Chris Lee's own online sex scandal, the coverage was minimal, because Lee quickly dropped his "I was hacked" excuse, publicly admitted what he had done, and resigned. Without continuous, vehement denial, the press only had a humdrum "politician seeks extramarital sex" angle to cover. However, Weiner has breathed new life into the coverage of this tweet with his insistence on belligerent non-answers and inept metaphors. His absolute refusal to take the most brief, cursory steps to corroborate his account only benefit one person in one scenario: Congressman Weiner, if he sent the tweet himself. And the more he obfuscates and deflects simple yes-or-no questions, the longer this "distraction" will keep the Representative from his important legislative work.