New York Democrat Representative Anthony Weiner has been tap dancing around a recent incident involving his twitter account.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That’s right. And really, the developments have just been us trying to get some answers from Congressman Weiner.
The back-story very quickly here, of course, is that over the weekend, there was allegedly a lewd picture that went out on his Twitter account which he quickly said was something that was resulting from a hack, that somebody had hacked his Twitter account. He put out a couple of statements over the last few days saying it was a distraction, saying it was a prank, saying that he had gotten a lawyer to figure out whether there should be any criminal or civil action taken. But there were a lot of questions about this. For example, whether or not or why he apparently was in contact or following a woman, a 21-year-old college student in Seattle, who was the alleged recipient of this tweet. So I want to you look at this exchange. Congressman Weiner, for the second time today, Wolf, came out and was very open, he said, about wanting to stand before the cameras and talk to reporters. The problem is he didn’t answer questions.
Weiner then goes on to repeatedly try to push an obviously rehearsed rif that he felt was going to magically make the questions stop:
BASH: Congressman, could you just ask — answer point blank, you say that you were hacked, which is potentially a crime.
So why haven’t you asked the Capitol Police for any law enforcement to investigate?
WEINER: Look, this was a prank that I’ve now been talking about for a couple of days. I am not going to allow it to decide what I talk about for the next week or the next two weeks. And so I’m not going to be giving you anything more about that today. I think I’ve been pretty responsive to you in the past.
BASH: But — but with respect, you’re here, which we — which we appreciate, but you’re not answering the questions.
Can you just say why you haven’t asked law enforcement to investigate what you are alleging is a crime?
WEINER: You — you know, Dana, if I was giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back of the room threw a pie or yelled out an insult, would I spent the next two hours responding to that?
[Reporters continue to press for an answer]
WEINER: Sir — permit me — permit me — do you guys want me to finish my answer?
QUESTION: Yes, this ques — this anywhere.
QUESTION: did you send it or not?
WEINER: If I were giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back threw a pie or yelled out an insult, I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or that insult. I would return to the things that I want to talk about to the audience that I wanted to talk to –
QUESTION: all you have to do is say no with respect –
WEINER: — and that is what I intend to do at this point.
Representative Weiner was completely oblivious to how guilty this exchange actually made him look. He repeatedly refused to answer legitimate and direct questions. He was evasive throughout the entire exchange. His on-point message that he was trying to assert was that he wasn’t going to cooperate with the reporters by talking about it any more. He had work to do and he wasn’t going to allow this to distract him from it.
Now segue to questions being posed to the Democrat leadership:
Top Democrats in the House are giving no credence to those looking to find a real scandal.
California’s Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, stuck to her party’s main legislative focus Thursday — “Medicare, Medicare, Medicare.” When questioned as to whether the situation was turning into a distraction, Pelosi replied “That’s your problem. If that’s what’s important to you, then that’s what you’ll report. That’s not what’s important to us.”
Nancy gives the same prepared response, in essence. We’re not going to answer your questions about this. It is all a distraction.
Obviously there was some backroom discussion somewhere prior to this exchange about how to damage control Weinergate. Representative Weiner was obviously unable to handle the public relations aspects of this on his own because his attempts to do so were only raising more questions. Deeply embarrassing questions. Questions that the Democrats and Weiner in particular did not want reporters digging into. And to make matters worse, Weiner’s own behavior was only making him look more guilty.
So the Democrats obviously decided that the best strategy was to simply clam up. Everyone all the way up to Nancy Pelosi and probably beyond are now all going to be singing from the same coordinated handbook to try and contain this situation. [Aside: Isn't this the same strategy that Obama is now following regarding inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the Osama bin Laden killing? To simply stop releasing any additional information?]
I don’t know if Wiener was hacked, or not. I don’t know if the photo was of him, or not. But what IS clear is that Weiner has something to hide here and that’s why the reporters are continuing to press the issue. If he was hacked, as he claims, then why downplay the need for a formal investigation into that hacking. It is a serious crime. For some reason Weiner doesn’t want the FBI or the Capital Police to be looking into his twitter account. So the real question here is, what does Weiner have to hide?
Even Chris Matthews thinks that Weinergate is an embarassment to the Democrat party, possibly of a magnitude of sufficient proportions that it may cost the Democrats seats in upcoming elections.
In fact, Matthews thinks it’s even possible that Republicans can successfully attack the whole Democratic party over Weiner’s behavior and retain control of the House of Representatives as a result.
In her usual delightful style, Ann Coulter weighs in on Weinergate making the point that by calling the incident a hacking Weiner may have unleashed the need for a formal investigation … something that Wiener is now claiming vociferously that he does not want:
Weiner isn’t a celebrity: He’s a CONGRESSMAN. Whoever can hack into his Twitter account may be able to hack into other congressmen’s accounts — or into Weiner’s briefing files from, say, the Department of Defense.
(Indeed, unless the alleged hacker is arrested, who knows how many Anthony Weiner penis shots could start circulating on Twitter?)
But when one of Weiner’s colleagues, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., requested a congressional investigation into cybersecurity based on Weiner’s self-proclaimed computer attack on his Twitter account, Weiner denounced and insulted Stearns.
The best Weiner can do now is try to take his utterly humiliating penis photo out of the realm of criminal law by eliding “hacked” into “pranked.” Legally, it’s not clear what the difference is.
He’s stuck angrily announcing that he wants to move on, there’s important work to be done, and calling a CNN reporter a “jackass” merely for asking if Weiner sent the penis photo or not.
For a guy who’s suddenly taking the position that this was all just a harmless prank, he seemed pretty bent out of shape at that CNN press conference. If that condition persists for more than four hours, congressman, consult your doctor.