(Original story at the New York Times here.)
I do not think that this story needs an introduction. I waited to post this story because I wanted to see what would come out of it.
If Congressman Weiner had set out to get sex or sexual satisfaction with his act, then his loss of reputation as a Congressman is too high a price to pay for it. However, if he did that for publicity, then he obviously scored (pardon the pun) an A+ for drawing the attention of the whole country (and perhaps even the world) to this previously unknown New York Representative from Queens.
The worst part of this story is how he lied repeatedly to the news media about how his Twitter account was hacked before admitting to being the one sending those photos. I guess he would not have got all the airtime if he had admitted to it immediately and issued a statement of apology.
Anyway, the lessons to learn here are: Always assume, as in the case of email messages, that whatever you post or send through social media can and will be used against you, especially if you are a public figure. And if you did indeed commit a social media gaffe, apologize immediately and the media will move on to another story soon enough to save you (and possibly your family) lots of embarrassment.
Weiner Faces Calls to Resign and Tries to Make Amends
By MICHAEL BARBARO and DAVID W. CHEN
Published: June 7, 2011
Representative Anthony D. Weiner of New York, reeling from revelations of salacious online behavior that threaten his political career, moved rapidly on Tuesday to make amends as Republicans called for his resignation and leading members of his own Democratic Party distanced themselves from him.
Mr. Weiner spent much of the past 24 hours apologizing over and over to stunned Congressional colleagues and Democratic leaders angry at him for misleading them and the public. Even neighboring House Democrats seemed shaken, with many of them worrying that worse disclosures may still surface.
In a tense telephone call with Mr. Weiner, during which he apologized, Representative Nydia M. Velázquez of Brooklyn scolded him, as she recalled: “How can you explain that somebody can be so smart but so stupid?”
Asked if Mr. Weiner should resign, she replied, “The most important thing in this business is credibility.”
Signs of a redrawn political reality quickly emerged for Mr. Weiner, once considered a top contender to become mayor of New York. His campaign donors said they were especially shocked and furious because a week ago the congressman attributed his online travails to a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” a contributor who spoke with him said.
“Everything is going to be fine,” Mr. Weiner said, according to the contributor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the uncertainty surrounding the congressman’s future.
But Mr. Weiner’s problems have only intensified as new and more embarrassing details of his online relationships emerged. After adamantly proclaiming for a week that he had been the victim of a hacker, Mr. Weiner admitted during a tearful news conference on Monday that he had sent suggestive photographs and messages to at least six women and had repeatedly lied to cover up his actions.
One suggestion of his new vulnerability: Some New York Democrats have approached former Councilman Eric N. Gioia of Queens about running for Mr. Weiner’s seat, according to two people briefed on the conversations. Mr. Gioia, these people said, is open to the possibility. He declined to comment.
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, was said to be particularly upset with Mr. Weiner, who waited until 15 minutes before his news conference on Monday to inform her, by phone, about his explicit online communications with women. And rather than engage in a discussion about resigning, he instead told her, in no uncertain terms, that he would keep his seat, according to a senior Democratic Congressional official.
Expressions of support from Democrats, many of whom have long grumbled about Mr. Weiner’s chest-thumping, go-it-alone style, were conspicuously scant.
At an appearance in Washington on Tuesday, the top Senate Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, said he could not overlook Mr. Weiner’s conduct.
“I know Congressman Weiner,” Mr. Reid said. “I wish there was some way I can defend him, but I can’t.”
For their part, Republicans escalated calls for Mr. Weiner to quit. “I don’t condone his activity, and I think he should resign,” the House majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, said.
One of Mr. Weiner’s most emotional apologies was delivered to former President Bill Clinton, who officiated at his wedding in July and is extremely close with the congressman’s wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Clintons are deeply unhappy about the situation and with Mr. Weiner, people who had been told of their thinking said. Mr. Clinton declined to comment.
In the hours after his news conference, Mr. Weiner called about a half-dozen of his Democratic colleagues, including Representatives Steve Israel and Edolphus Towns, both of New York, and the House minority whip, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland.
Those who spoke with Mr. Weiner described him as not sounding like himself: he expressed deep remorse for his actions and, at times, became choked up, but stood by his decision not to resign.
“He was embarrassed,” Mr. Towns recalled. “He is trying to pick up the pieces and move on.”
The new details of Mr. Weiner’s online interactions with the women suggested he was the one pushing the conversations into intimate territory. In an interview on “Good Morning America,” one of the women, Meagan Broussard, said it was Mr. Weiner who quickly initiated an exchange via instant messaging and sent racy photos to her.
“It wasn’t like I was chasing him, at all,” she said.
Ms. Broussard said she first wrote on Mr. Weiner’s Facebook page in April, after being impressed by one of his speeches. “He sent me a friend request the same day,” she said. “I just thought, that’s weird.”
Mr. Weiner, through a spokesman, declined to discuss those communications, citing a possible investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
Even as the political implications of the scandal remained unsettled, it became clear that many of Mr. Weiner’s biggest financial backers were dismayed by his actions and pessimistic about his prospects.
“If this is all proven correct, I’m very disappointed,” said Leena Doshi, who has helped Mr. Weiner raise $59,650 in campaign contributions since 2007.
Many donors braced for more bad news, given the nearly daily drumbeat of allegations. “I’m just hoping this doesn’t get worse,” said Zina Sapir, whose family, prominent real estate owners, has raised about $50,250 for Mr. Weiner.
The scandal has already complicated his fund-raising schedule. He postponed an event on June 20 that was to be hosted by the actor Matt Damon at a Manhattan restaurant co-owned by Mr. Weiner’s brother, a spokeswoman for Mr. Damon said.
The congressman spent Tuesday in his district office in Forest Hills, Queens, telling his aides that he was sorry and trying, despite the swirl of cameras outside, to focus on his Congressional work.
Not far from the office on Austin Street, his constituents engaged in a debate about their representative’s behavior and whether it should cost him his job. Unlike many in the political world, they seemed, at first blush, to be more forgiving.
Judith Shapiro said Mr. Weiner’s steadfast service to his constituents outweighed his online flirtations and deceptions.
“Remember, he has broken no laws,” she said. “He has not used campaign funds. He has not done anything because, basically, he’s a very ethical man. He’s a good man.”
Anna Bean, 24, a graduate student, said that Mr. Weiner’s online behavior was “definitely a gross thing” but that what most troubled her was how he had misled the public.
“You know,” she said, “I think if he had just come out and said, ‘This is what I’ve been doing,’ I think I could overlook that.”