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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.)

  • BooksAlive

    BooMan is right on! Sen. Larry Craig provided the press one Republican to hound, but not many of the others in Congress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=810889128 Molly Whipple Douthett

    And STILL nothing  about Clarence Thomas’ conflict of interest which effects everyone in the US and unborn generations. Weiner’s conflict of interest effects him and his wife.

  • bks

    No one outside New York could have identified this guy before the Right Wing Echo Chamber made him a punching bag.   But if this is the main story, I guess all is right with the world.

        –bks

  • black dog barking

    It might be a rule of thumb: a politician, pictured by himself in a non-portrait-sitting, is in trouble.

    • http://profiles.google.com/fatunga robert e

      In general, and outside of official workplace, or speeches, etc., you’re probably right.

  • Anonymous

    The Starr Report was intended to shame Bill Clinton into resigning, but it was so salacious in itself that it backfired on Ken Starr, costing him a nomination for the Supreme Court.  To this day, Starr is remembered for this hit job than for anything else he ever accomplished. 

    We’re told that Andrew Breitbart is a big winner coming out of the Weiner case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this backfires on him the way snooping backfired on Ken Starr.  Having that much interest in another man’s secret sex life is really creepy.  Was Breitbart intending to promote himself as a serious journalist?  It’s not going to happen now.

    Bill Clinton survived the Starr Report but Ken Starr’s career as a first-tier political figure did not.  When the dust settles, it will probably emerge that Anthony Weiner had no idea that Twitter images were stored.  He’ll be seen as a smart city guy who acted like a dumb hick, but not as much of a creep as Andrew Breitbart.  And by extension, the whole right wing press may be tarred with the Breitbart brush because of how willingly they’ve embraced him.

  • Anonymous

    The Starr Report was intended to shame Bill Clinton into resigning, but it was so salacious in itself that it backfired on Ken Starr, costing him a nomination for the Supreme Court.  To this day, Starr is remembered for this hit job than for anything else he ever accomplished. 

    We’re told that Andrew Breitbart is a big winner coming out of the Weiner case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this backfires on him the way snooping backfired on Ken Starr.  Having that much interest in another man’s secret sex life is really creepy.  Was Breitbart intending to promote himself as a serious journalist?  It’s not going to happen now.

    Bill Clinton survived the Starr Report but Ken Starr’s career as a first-tier political figure did not.  When the dust settles, it will probably emerge that Anthony Weiner had no idea that Twitter images were stored.  He’ll be seen as a smart city guy who acted like a dumb hick, but not as much of a creep as Andrew Breitbart.  And by extension, the whole right wing press may be tarred with the Breitbart brush because of how willingly they’ve embraced him.

  • Anonymous

    The Starr Report was intended to shame Bill Clinton into resigning, but it was so salacious in itself that it backfired on Ken Starr, costing him a nomination for the Supreme Court.  To this day, Starr is remembered for this hit job than for anything else he ever accomplished. 

    We’re told that Andrew Breitbart is a big winner coming out of the Weiner case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this backfires on him the way snooping backfired on Ken Starr.  Having that much interest in another man’s secret sex life is really creepy.  Was Breitbart intending to promote himself as a serious journalist?  It’s not going to happen now.

    Bill Clinton survived the Starr Report but Ken Starr’s career as a first-tier political figure did not.  When the dust settles, it will probably emerge that Anthony Weiner had no idea that Twitter images were stored.  He’ll be seen as a smart city guy who acted like a dumb hick, but not as much of a creep as Andrew Breitbart.  And by extension, the whole right wing press may be tarred with the Breitbart brush because of how willingly they’ve embraced him.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fatunga robert e

    “photo 4: …numerous sexual relationships online while married.”

    Can a strictly online relationship be sexual? By that logic, there’s an awful lot of sex happening over our various pop media.

    • Enoch Root

      “Can a strictly online relationship be sexual?”

      Absolutely. (Or the sarcastic answer: “Ask your wife.”)

  • Bugboy

    About Brietbart, I thought it was real funny he showed up at Wiener’s presser.  I wonder who got more press?

    About Wiener: Who did HE piss off this time?  This can’t be the first time he’s been caught with his “pants down”, not with a name like that.  He’s made a career out of his last name.

  • Anonymous

    Wiener’s downfall with the public and his party was his bald faced lies. He let his friends go on the air to defend him when he knew he was lying. He gave a “script” to one of his “relations” which was full of lies. After he confessed, I saw the footage on him on a “tour” of the talk shows, lying; it made my gut hurt. He was a fool and an adolescent jerk. His stupidity is flagrant. I understand his constituents don’t want to be told what to do. Fine. But his colleagues have a responsibility to deal with it. Democrats keeping dealing responsibly, while the republicans continue to do nothing about their Vitters.

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