A Philosopher's Blog

Weiner

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 2, 2011
Anthony Weiner

Image via Wikipedia

While the Weiner Incident is actually a non-incident, the media has been busily stoking (or stroking, if you want to go there) the matter in the hopes of keeping the attention of the American public.

For those who are not aware of the incident, a shot of a man’s underwear covered groin was sent, via Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account, to a woman. Weiner denies that he sent it, though he does not deny (with certitude) or confirm  that the groin is his. He claims that he was hacked. The media (especially bloggers) have turned this into a major battle. As I see it, this matter is largely a non-issue in itself, but does indicate some interesting things about the media. Before getting to that, I will address the incident directly.

Obviously, there are two main possibilities: Weiner sent it or he did not (and was presumably hacked). Hacking Twitter is obviously a very real possibility and it also makes sense that someone would try to prank Weiner with a wiener shot. It is also possible that the shot is really of Weiner and was taken from his computer. Naturally it is a bit odd that he is not denying that it is him, but perhaps he is the sort of guy who has pictures taken of his groin and hence cannot be sure that it is not him. In my own case, I would be rather certain about any photos purporting to be of my groin.

If Weiner were hacked, it really is not a big deal. Twitter is hardly a high value account and while sending such a photo is wicked creepy, it is probably not a crime. After all, the image can be shown on TV and is no worse than an underwear ad. Hacking Twitter might count as crime, but perhaps not-the legality of such things can be a bit fuzzy and much would depend on how the alleged hacking was conducted and with what intent.

If Weiner Tweeted the image, intentionally or (much more likely) accidentally, it is also not a very big deal (at least for anyone not directly involve). As noted above, the image was tasteless but tame and hence probably not a violation of any laws. Also, Weiner has been rather cautious in his claims (which lends credence to the claim that he sent the Tweet) and hence it would be harder to claim that he lied about it not being his wiener. After all, he has not (as of this writing) claimed it was not his with certainty.

While Weiner is clearly a smart guy, smart guys do stupid things all the time. Even me, although I have never sent out any Junk Tweets (or Jweets)). Elliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton are both smart guys, but they did exceptionally stupid things when it came to sex. As such, it is certainly possible that Weiner sent the Tweet. If he did send it, then he would have shown rather poor judgment in sending the Tweet and then trying to do damage control by attributing it to a hack or prank. He is, however, right to claim that it was not significant. However, if he did send it, then his defense could end up creating a situation that is, in fact, significant.

One of the most interesting aspects of the incident is how the media has handled it. While Weiner has given them some openings, the media folks have done their very best to make this into a story by interpreting Weiner’s actions and claims in ways clearly calculated to create the appearance of a cover up or controversy. Interestingly, this is exactly the sort of thing that conservatives generally criticize media folks about. Of course, Weiner is engaging the press rather than trying to avoid them. This, in some ways, plays into their hands. After all, if he engages with the media, then it creates the impression that it is something important enough for a congressman to spend his time dealing with. However, if he did not engage, then some media folks would take that as a sign that he had something to hide.

While the media folks should be criticized when it creates controversies over nothing, keeping tabs on public officials is part of their job, be those officials Republicans or liberal Democrats.

 

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6 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on June 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

    What’s not to like about grilling a Weiner over Memorial Day weekend?

    It is no big deal, but it is funny…especially since Weiner takes himself so seriously.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on June 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I wonder how Weinergate compares to (shirtless) Chris Lee:

    Mike’s comments at the time:

    But now, to what is supposed to be the main point of the blog. As most folks know, Chris Lee is no longer a representative thanks to his attempts to have an affair. Interestingly, he tried to do this via Craig’s List and sent a prospective date a photo of himself sans shirt. More awesomely, he did it in what is now an iconic way: he took the picture using his phone camera and a bathroom (I assume) mirror. If this style does not yet have a name, I might suggest “mirror shot” or maybe it should be named after him: “Lee shot.”

    • magus71 said, on June 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

      TJ,

      I think this portion of this article sums the different way Mike blogs about people who have an (R) as opposed to a (D) behind their name:

      “The media (especially bloggers) have turned this into a major battle. As I see it, this matter is largely a non-issue in itself, but does indicate some interesting things about the media. Before getting to that, I will address the incident directly.”

      and..
      “One of the most interesting aspects of the incident is how the media has handled it. While Weiner has given them some openings, the media folks have done their very best to make this into a story by interpreting Weiner’s actions and claims in ways clearly calculated to create the appearance of a cover up or controversy. Interestingly, this is exactly the sort of thing that conservatives generally criticize media folks about.” Of course, Weiner is engaging the press rather than trying to avoid them. This, in some ways, plays into their hands.

      Mike’s still in denial about the liberal leanings that most of the media hold. Something like 85% of media employees count themeselves as Democrats or liberals. But the cover both sides with equal scrutiny..honest.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        Well, if the media is liberal, then why are the really hounding Weiner so badly? He is, after all, a major liberal.

        The way the media is handling Weiner actually lends credence to the claims that the media is more interested in generating an audience by creating controversies than in presenting information fairly and in proportion to its importance. The way they are dealing with Weiner seems to indicate that they are quite willing to go after the left. Or maybe only when it involves sex.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      I did suggest the Jweet or Jeet for Junk Shot Tweets.

      In Weiner’s case, even if it is assumed that he sent the photo to the student, this would still be a few steps above Chris Lee’s Craig’s List ad. After all, Lee was clearly looking to have an affair and while a married man sending a covered junk shot is super creepy (and probably requires a corrective beat down from his wife), it is not quite at the level of an explicit attempt at an affair.

      Weiner should have just stopped talking about it. If he is innocent, he should have just said “I didn’t send it. I was hacked. Case closed.” If he did it, he should have fessed up to it. Or, if he wanted to lie smart, he could have said that he clicked the wrong thing. After all, who hasn’t screwed up an email or file upload?


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