Anthony Weiner sending out naughty pictures of himself to random women on the Internet — it's been a tantalizing storyline for almost exactly two years because of the mystery (are there more?) and the agony (can he survive?). Now that he's running for mayor and advancing his plan of pre-emptive damage control, has Weiner already takend the scandal out of the next scandal, when more selfies from his last days in Congress inevitably surface?
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Weiner, who seems to be New York's second favorite mayoral candidate behind Christine Quinn, is on another round of local interviews — his first since officially declaring on Wednesday — and now he's really putting out the fires before they start. Today, in an interview with WNYC's Brian Lehrer, Weiner stated, once again, that there may be more embarrassing photos out there:
People may decide they want to come forward and say, here’s another email that I got or another photo. I’m certainly not going to do that. So people may hear things that are true, they may hear things that are not true, but I’m going to try to keep being focused on issues that are important to New York City.
If there's a way to make the act of sending shirtless photos to a potential sexy-times partner sound as bland and unappealing as we just did, Weiner has it mastered. And today's interview sounds a lot like what he told NBC New York last month (we emphasized the parts where our eyes felt like they were reading the same thing):
I can tell you that some things may come out that are true; some things are not. But here's where I'm going to try and draw the line. Basically New Yorkers know the story. I did it. I did it with multiple people. These things were wrong and inappropriate and I never should have been dishonest about them."
So: Is it working? While a few tabloid headlines making penis-centric Weiner jokes were fun when Weiner first hinted at a run, there's a sense that people are already getting bored. Weiner hasn't exactly made it easy for tabloid editors, either. When Weiner officially announced his mayoral run, he released the official announcement in an overnight video and past deadline for the tabloids. If New York's tabloid editors so desperately wanted to run a lewd Weiner pun, they'd risk looking late. (The Post and Daily News ran the attacks in London on their front covers today.) "The campaign declined to comment about whether avoiding tabloid covers was part of the strategy behind the late night rollout," Talking Points Memo's Hunter Walker reported. If that was unintentional, then it's one of the savviest unplanned dodges in New York political history — and there have been a lot of those.
But back to the would-be Selfies Round 2: Weiner isn't making it easier for tabloids on that front either. By saying that there are seemingly unpublished photos everywhere, without really defining who might have them or which tabloid might be threatening his future with them, he's essentially changed the supply — suddenly that exclusive photo might not be quite so special to, say, The National Enquirer. Now tabloid editors and political blogs will have to make sure that the photo they're pursuing is really badder, sexier, and sadder than what we saw in late May of 2011. At the time, he denied it, then had one of the stranger public meltdowns in a while. But now he's back, owning up to everything, and trying to make his sex scandal just another commodity news story about a guy running for mayor in a big city.
Perhaps this might change the questions we now ask of Weiner. Maybe everyone will pay more attention to how he plans to solve New York City's seemingly growing anti-gay attacks or how he feels about Christine Quinn's policy on paid sick leave? That might not be such a bad thing. Selfies might be hotter than democracy, but politicians still apparently practice in both.
- Anthony Weiner