When allegations about his “sexting” first surfaced, Anthony Weiner’s reaction was to lie, deny, claim he’d been hacked, and orchestrate a character-assassination campaign against Andrew Breitbart. It was not authentic contrition that caused him to fess up; he was backed into a corner by his own conduct and conflicting explanations. That is why he admitted guilt and resigned his seat in Congress.
With the help of a sympathetic media, he has attempted a political comeback that would have been impossible in a different time and place. His mayoral campaign got some traction (though lately he has sagged in the polls), but even in contemporary New York City, that can only be because most people believe the revelations of his conduct caused him to seek redemption, change his ways, etc. Now, as Greg Pollowitz notes at the Feed, it turns out he continued sexting long after his resignation from Congress (and no doubt well into his comeback plans), under at least one pseudonym, “Carlos Danger.”
Weiner appears to have tried to reduce the shock and revulsion this new revelation will cause by straining to portray it as old news – under the cover of having previously admitted that “these things that I did” caused “challenges” in his marriage “that extended past my resignation from Congress.” That formulation is ambiguous regarding whether what continued after the original scandal was the “things I did” or the “challenges” they caused. He is banking on that ambiguity, along with the fact that the screenshots of his newly revealed “chats” are not date-stamped.
As Sterling Beard observes here on the Corner, in confessing to the newly revealed sexting episode, Weiner was careful not to comment on the timing of it. Clearly, Weiner is hoping voters can be hoodwinked into believing the newly revealed sexting is just part of the original scandal they’ve already forgiven him for. Maybe his media friends will even help him maintain the illusion that there is nothing new worth noticing. And indeed, some news accounts reporting the newly revealed sexting take pains to say, “The chats are not dated” (as Business Insider puts it).
As us litigator types know, however, there is more than one way to fix a timeframe on a recorded conversation. One is to have as a witness one of the interlocutors, who will be in a position to testify about when the conversation occurred. Reportedly, the 22-year-old woman who had the online sexting relationship with Weiner says she was involved with him from July to November 2012 – over a year after his June 2011 resignation.
Another way is to date a conversation is to examine the conversation itself. This is where I think Weiner is toast. I don’t recommend reading the whole conversation, which Sterling linked to earlier (here). It is sexually explicit and, in a pathetic way, very depressing. But I can quote this comparatively tame section, which bears on the question of timing:
Woman: . . . I was attracted to you way before all that happened . . .
Weiner [“Danger33”]: i’ve found the perfect woman. Gorgeous, sexy and like a bit of my crazy
Woman: I basically worship the ground you walk on. You’re incredible.
Weiner: so you won’t tell me what picture of me you like the most or turned you on the most? only tv?
Woman: Specifically your health care rants were a huge turn on
Weiner: sadly my pics are out there to look at. have you ever?
Woman: Yes. And I must say I was quite impressed.
Weiner’s reference to “my pics” certainly appears to be a reference to the pictures that forced his resignation the year before. The woman’s response that she “was quite impressed” by the “pics” is consistent with the overall context of what – apart from the passage I’ve quoted – is a very bawdy conversation.
(Interestingly, the New York Times quotes from the same passage I’ve excerpted above, but cuts off the passage after the woman says, “Specifically your health care rants were a huge turn on,” That is, the Times omits Weiner’s reference to “my pics” out there [i.e., on the Internet] and his asking whether the woman had checked them out.)
If my interpretation is correct, then over a year after resigning in disgrace, and over six months after his wife gave birth to their son, Weiner was not only still engaging in similar behavior but actually exploiting the scandalous images that forced his resignation as part of the new round of sexting.
If he can survive that, it is not he but New York City that is beyond saving.