Weiner’s Sexting, Media Manipulation & The Cost to Us

Former U.S. Congressman and New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. (abcnews.com)

Former U.S. Congressman and New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. (abcnews.go.com)

It’s so trite nobody cares who ultimately profits and suffers.

The male candidate commits some form of marital infidelity.  The complicit female counterpart is aggrieved yet profits. The media ensures that obsessive coverage of the story obliterates boring analysis of the candidate’s platform, drive up its readership, reassure its advertisers and proves its power by forcing the candidate to drop out. Partisan colleagues and rival candidates assert their concern for the great people of wherever-it-is who deserve better, by seconding the call for him to drop out. In between, no degree of deception and sanctimony is spared by any of the individuals or institutions complicit in the episode. In the end, it is usually only the candidate’s spouse who develops a stronger sense of self.

Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that there were “calls” for former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to drop his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York. Who were making those calls?

“Rivals, newspaper editorial pages and at least one former New York congressional colleague,” the AP stated.

Congressman Nadler. (theatlanticwire.com)

Congressman Nadler. (theatlanticwire.com)

More specifically it was editorial writers of the New York Timesthe New York Daily News, three of the other five mayoral candidates (Republican John Catsimatidis and Democrats Sal Albanese and Bill deBlasio) and  U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Nadler even offered that Weiner needs “serious psychiatric help” for sexting. One assumes he might declare the same judgment of those who participate in actual physical relationships, or have addictions to drugs, alcohol. Or even for eating too much food.

DeBlasio said that Weiner’s “presence in this race has become a never-ending sideshow that is distracting us from the debate of the serious issues of this election.” He is correct that the sideshow is distracting. He is incorrect that it is Weiner’s “presence” is the cause of the distraction.

“The serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye,” the New York Times declared without pointing out that it was the media which put it in the public eye and insists on keeping it there.

The man in question, Weiner, believes that voters “are more interested in the challenge they face in their lives than in anything that I have done…” In saying this, Weiner may have made the only truthful observation about the scandal he has caused and perhaps the most honest of his public statements.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Roll Call)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Roll Call)

Whether or not the great people of wherever-it-is are more interested in sexting or a platform, they deserve the right to vote for or against even self-deluded candidates who continue campaigning without regard for a diminishing chance of victory.  They do not deserve to have media or partisan blowhards determine which of a candidate’s human sin deems them unworthy of seeking public office.

While she said it in response to a question at a press conference intended to discuss legislative matters, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reference to Weiner’s sexting as “disrespectful of women” is particularly specious.

Weiner and his wife. (Christian Scient Monitor)

Weiner and his wife. (Christian Scient Monitor)

The day before, his wife Huma Abedin made clear she was no victim and consciously chose to forgive him and support his continued candidacy.

His sexting partner is 23-year old adult, Syndey Leathers who not only never discouraged his sexual messages but responded to them for a period of six months.

Today she granted an Inside Edition television interview in exchange for payment and with no stated motive of public interest.

Weiner’s text messages and a pixelated version of a sexually-explicit photo he sent first appear on the website thedirty.com.

Syndey Leathers during her Inside Edition interview on July 2. (wblxloca..com)

Syndey Leathers during her Inside Edition interview on July 2. (wblxloca..com)

The value of the media is to guard our interests when it comes to representative officials making outright lies about legislation or crises which affect or threaten the public’s safety and well-being – or when a candidate or political figure is an obvious hypocrite.

Had reporters who knew the truth about Franklin D. Roosevelt being unable to walk decided to exploit the story by printing the details of what he considered to be an entirely private matter, he may not have been elected President in 1932.

Had FDR not been elected, he would not have had the opportunity to lead the U.S. out of the Great Depression and through World War II nearly to the day of victory.

Roosevelt only vaguely let it be known he had infantile paralysis, without going into the details of how that privately affected him. He acknowledged it abstractly, feeling the details were irrelevant.

Self-regulated but still earning profits, the media of that age recognized that by respecting his view and independently agreeing with it that it served the larger purposes of those who were ultimately more important than one man and his frailty – the American people and then the peoples of the world.

The reporters who covered FDR knew he was unable to walk but never reported the details, agreeing with his claim it was truly a private matter. (kigsacademy.com)

The reporters who covered FDR knew he was unable to walk but never reported the details, agreeing with his claim it was truly a private matter and recognizing that it better served the people he was elected to represent. (kigsacademy.com)

Roosevelt’s “weakness” was the result of a physical disability over which he had no control. Weiner’s weakness was a willful act of choice. Nobody is comparing the secrets they preferred not be divulged. At the start of his campaign, however, Weiner clearly stated that it were likely there was likely to be further sexting revelations. He may be an adulterer to many, but he is not a hypocrite.

In neither endorsing Weiner nor defining adultery, the point here may seem futile against the crush of what has become the media in its thousands of instantaneous forms on a multitude of platforms. Rationality, however, can still be found. With a bit of conscious effort.

Whether voters react with amusement or rage to this particular news story or others involving similarly-judged candidates, however, they may be so expertly distracted by the media’s judgment that they fail to keep in mind their own interests and permit their right to chose their leaders to be pre-empted.

Of course everyone knows the old maxim of “selling papers,” meaning the profit motive of the media in all forms.  And it’s no secret that the political opposition will use anything available to gain power over their rivals.

It’s also important to remember that profit and power motives increasingly distract us from looking after own interests, those boring issues which nevertheless affect our real, daily lives.

Or to remember that no matter how pervasive the uncredited exchange of original photography, publishing for profit any pictures created as original works by the photographer without their permission can be prosecuted as an act of copyright violation, be it a grandma’s peony or a candidate’s penis.

Categories: Editorial, Media, News, Politics

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4 replies »

  1. Yes, I agree this is a distraction from the important issues. It shows how low our politics have sunk. I’ve heard that in Europe this kind of thing doesn’t even make the papers because people there consider it a private matter and they’re more interested in the real issues. Your example of FDR is excellent. FDR did not allow his disability to define him, nor did he allow others to use it to define him, and he was a great President. I just wonder if the media is even aware of how complicit it is in this perversion of democracy.

    • First of all, I really appreciate your making the effort to write – so thanks for that. I know that there are time when the personal behavior can be relevant to the public policy of an elected official and certainly there’s some examples of this with Presidents – meaning apart from the issue of hypocrisy. I think there is a sense of being besieged even among the established media – and that may, perhaps be the driving reason why editors feel alright about emphasizing the unimportant content…a sense that it is necessary for survival so that even if only 2 out of 10 news reports are important there would be 0 if the media organization could not longer afford to exist.

  2. Hear, hear! Please allow me to turn up the applause volume! When we have babies being shot inadvertently by vicous gang members in our cities, elderly folks living on cat food, Big Brother spying on us and profiteering on contrived wars & not to mention the wringing of the average man by our own Wall Street Inc.& yet the news watchdogs
    salivate over a man’s penile adventures then we the public wonder is it truly a slow newsday? Bravo for a well tuned introspection historically on an overinflated (no joke intended-but funny come to think of it) “news story”(?).

    • Thank you Phil.I heard today that he’s remaining in the race despite the resignation of his campaign manager. Among critics suggesting that voters of New York should not have a chance to include this particular candidate can be counted one political adviser for whom one of the other mayoral candidates was a client, and one of his rivals and a former congressional colleague of the opposition party and fellow New Yorker with whom he had contentious conflicts. Hardly disinterested parties.

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