Weinergate 10 Years Later: Media’s Firm Defense Fell Flat

It was ten years ago this May that Weinergate grew into a scandal that destroyed the career of New York Democrat Anthony Weiner. On May 27, 2011, the then-Congressman sent a sexually explicit picture of himself to a woman following him on Twitter. After the picture of his erect penis became public, Weiner spent days saying it wasn’t him and suggesting he’d been hacked. Bizarrely, liberal journalists attempted to defend him, offering all sorts of ridiculous explanations.

In the early days of the scandal, CNN and MSNBC tried to pin it on an elaborate conspiracy from the late Andrew Breitbart: 

“In his defense, I think we do need to point out that the person behind this is Andrew Breitbart, who has made a practice of targeting Democrats — Shirley Sherrod most notoriously of all. And his stories tend to fall apart on close inspection.”
— CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Anderson Cooper 360, May 31, 2011.

“Look, Breitbart is a proven liar, okay? He doctored the Shirley Sherrod tapes. He’s done this over and over again. Why would anybody take this fool seriously?”
— 6pm ET anchor Cenk Uygur on MSNBC News Live, June 1, 2011.

Ken Vogel, now with The New York Times, formally of Politico, somehow used it to smear Clarence Thomas: 


                    

On The View, liberal co-host Joy Behar imagined it was a conspiracy. Then co-host Barbara Walters praised the “good” Weiner.  

Co-host Joy Behar: “But, Barbara, couldn’t he be fully clothed almost and then they photocopy it and put it like that?”

Co-host Barbara Walters: “Somebody has to go to a lot of effort to get you in trouble.”
Behar: “Well, somebody is out to get him, apparently, ’cause they don’t like his politics.”
— Exchange on ABC’s The View, June 2, 2011.

When the end was finally obvious, Walters insisted the Democrat had hit “rock bottom” and should be given a second chance. Lecturing her co-hosts, she chided: 

“You thought that Anthony Weiner should resign, and that seems to be what a great many people are saying. So I don’t think so. I think what he has done is unfathomable. I think the pictures are disgusting. But I think he has hit rock bottom and this may be what he needed so that he changes his life. He has been a good and effective Congressman. His wife, who we now know is pregnant, has said she is going to continue with the marriage. His constituents want him.  

The ethics committee can investigate him and chastise, but not necessarily throw him out. And we had a President named Bill Clinton who went through a great deal of trouble, weathered the storm and is now not only respected, but he’s beloved by many people with a very good marriage. So, I think Anthony Weiner should hang in there. He was a good Congressman, and maybe he can weather this all and be effective.”
— Barbara Walters to her co-hosts on ABC’s The View, June 9, 2011.

When, inevitably, Weiner was forced to resign, NBC’s Today mourned the sad fall of Weiner: 

Correspondent Luke Russert: “We can now report Anthony Weiner has stepped down, and this is really a sad ending, a lot would say, to what was once a bright, promising political career….”
NBC political director Chuck Todd: “He’d become sort of a hero to the more progressive left, who were always upset that Democrats don’t stand up for themselves. So here was the guy that had all this potential to become a huge political figure….”
— NBC’s Today, June 17, 2011.    

Remember Walters’s claim: “I think he has hit rock bottom and this may be what he needed so that he changes his life.” Turns out, it wasn’t. In 2017 he plead guilty to transferring obscene images to a child. He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. 

When it comes to spinning, defending or deluding themselves about Weiner, we went into the Media Research Center archives. Here is the worst of the cringe-inducing worst from journalists: 

First Reaction to Weiner’s X-Rated Tweet: Let’s Smear a Conservative

“In his defense, I think we do need to point out that the person behind this is Andrew Breitbart, who has made a practice of targeting Democrats — Shirley Sherrod most notoriously of all. And his stories tend to fall apart on close inspection.”
— CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Anderson Cooper 360, May 31, 2011.

“Look, Breitbart is a proven liar, okay? He doctored the Shirley Sherrod tapes. He’s done this over and over again. Why would anybody take this fool seriously?”
— 6pm ET anchor Cenk Uygur on MSNBC News Live, June 1, 2011.

“Weinergate” Just Another Opportunity to Smear Clarence Thomas

“Know who’s probably loving #Weinergate? Clarence Thomas. In fact, given his porn affinity, I’m surprised Weiner hasn’t blamed the Justice.”
Politico reporter Ken Vogel in a June 1, 2011 Twitter posting about the Weiner scandal.

Upset Over Damage to a “Rising Star”

“Beyond the laughs here, this guy [Anthony Weiner] is a rising star in this state, especially in the city of New York, considered a front-runner for the next mayoral campaign. He talks about the personal toll this is taking on his marriage. What about the political toll?…How does he get ahead of this story again, or get it behind him?”
— NBC’s Meredith Vieira to White House correspondent Chuck Todd on Today, June 2, 2011.

Obviously, “Somebody Is Out to Get” Anthony Weiner

Co-host Joy Behar: “But, Barbara, couldn’t he be fully clothed almost and then they photocopy it and put it like that?”
Co-host Barbara Walters: “Somebody has to go to a lot of effort to get you in trouble.”
Behar: “Well, somebody is out to get him, apparently, ’cause they don’t like his politics.”
— Exchange on ABC’s The View, June 2, 2011.

Hoping Weiner Hangs on Like “Beloved” Bill Clinton

“You thought that Anthony Weiner should resign, and that seems to be what a great many people are saying. So I don’t think so. I think what he has done is unfathomable. I think the pictures are disgusting….The ethics committee can investigate him and chastise, but not necessarily throw him out. And we had a President named Bill Clinton who went through a great deal of trouble, weathered the storm and is now not only respected, but he’s beloved by many people with a very good marriage. So, I think Anthony Weiner should hang in there. He was a good Congressman, and maybe he can weather this all and be effective.”
— Barbara Walters to her co-hosts on ABC’s The View, June 9, 2011.

Weiner’s Antics Offend Culturally “Backward” Christians

“If he [Anthony Weiner] stays, they [Democrats] never get the leadership back. They never get the Speakership back, because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian conservative culturally — you can say backward if you want — but they don’t like this kind of stuff at all.”
— Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, June 9, 2011.

Mourning Loss of a “Hero to the Progressive Left”

Correspondent Luke Russert: “We can now report Anthony Weiner has stepped down, and this is really a sad ending, a lot would say, to what was once a bright, promising political career….”
NBC political director Chuck Todd: “He’d become sort of a hero to the more progressive left, who were always upset that Democrats don’t stand up for themselves. So here was the guy that had all this potential to become a huge political figure….”
— NBC’s Today, June 17, 2011.

If Weiner Wins, Credit Hillary “the Master” for How She Coached Huma

Co-host Savannah Guthrie: “Mika, do you think there’s any chance he [disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner] can win?”
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: “I do. I think his wife is the key here and his wife has learned from the master, Hillary Clinton, her boss.”
— Exchange on NBC’s Today, July 24, 2013.

View Original Source Source