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June 8, 2011

Media’s Weiner Pictures: Who’s Getting Dirty Now?

Weiner elevator 1

Weiner elevator 2

Somehow, adults are supposed to be scandalized by normal, unoffensive behavior that has no bearing on a lawmaker’s ability to do his job. Which is to say that from where I sit, this press frenzy looks less like a drive for accountability and more like an exercise in shaming.  (from: Media Takes Time Out of Its Day to Shame Anthony Weiner — Jamelle Bouie/Tapped)

You left Ensign alone. You left Vitter alone. Hell, you barely even reported it when Ensign resigned. But for weeks you’ve been hounding a comparative nobody. Why?  (from: “Hey, Media” Boo Man)

One one level, I actually admire the pair of photos of Weiner shot the day before his public confession about his not-so-secret sexting life. To the extent Weiner was lying about his behavior, visual media was spot-on here in using the backdrop of a Congressional elevator to help articulate how Weiner — like a perp caught red handed when the lights came on — was, yes, a man absolutely cornered.

Still, what’s bothers me is how much the story, and, particularly, the pictures seem to be serving the media’s own interests more than the public’s or even the other principals involved. It seems, in fact, there is even something of a parallel process in play in which the visual media — Weiner having come clean with good prospects for riding this out — gets to take over the fetishizing of the Congressman, it’s own prurient interests driving their own creating and posting of tawdry pictures of him.

Wiener statement 3

One all-too-easy way to do that is simply to catch an angle with a lot of dark shadows and some harsh light (when it wasn’t all that dark). This particular photo taken at Weiner’s press conference draws on those elements (just like the elevator shots did) to conjure the vibe you’d get of the Congressman slinking around the cocktail lounge of some podunk hotel.

Wiener statement 4

Then of course, “the ring shot” (probably the most prominent one since the ‘08 Republican convention) represents another way to administer a flogging, allowing the media to directly interject itself into Weiner’s domestic life, which would include his bedroom, and, yes, dole out the shame (reinforced in the corresponding caption 3 below).

Weiner post announcement 5  NYT

Finally, although I didn’t hear that Weiner was facing any charges, I’m also taken by this day-after-the-confession “we’re going to follow you around the neighborhood” shot in the NYT in which the press not only frames Weiner as someone officials would call “a person of interest,” but, like a guy out on bail, we see the visual media starting to own not just the title of paparazzi, but also the “lurker” role.

(photo 1 & 2: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) steps onto an elevator after leaving his office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. Weiner declined to comment further this morning on the recent incident involving his Twitter account and a photograph that was sent from that account..photo 3: Andrew Burton/Getty Image. caption: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) admits to sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and then lying about it during a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel on 7th Avenue on June 6, 2011 in New York City. Weiner said he had not met any of the women in person but had numerous sexual relationships online while married.. photo 4: Andrew Burton/Getty Images caption: The wedding ring of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is seen as he admits to sending a lewd Twitter photo of himself to a woman and then lying about it during a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel on 7th Avenue on June 6, 2011 in New York City. Weiner said he had not met any of the women in person but had numerous sexual relationships online while married. photo 5: Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times caption: Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat, in Queens, on Tuesday. He has been apologizing for salacious online behavior.)

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