Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weiner, Media and Scandal

In our chapter on the mass media, we quote Rogers Ailes: "Let's face it, there are three things that the media are interested in: pictures, mistakes, and attacks." Representative Anthony Weiner of New York unintentionally reinforced this point when he went on camera in response to a perceived scandal and attacked one of his questioners as a "jackass." If he wanted to reduce press attention to the incident, he made a mistake.

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner dodged a series of straightforward questions Tuesday about his claim that someone hacked his Facebook and Twitter accounts and sent out a lewd photo to a college student. And for perhaps the first time ever, Weiner said that talking to the media is not an essential part of his job. CNN reports on the worst media appearance since Mark Sanford admitted his affair: “Weiner told reporters … he already issued statements over the Memorial Day weekend after news of the photo of the lower body of a man wearing underwear turned up on his Twitter account on Friday night. When asked if the photo was of him, he deflected the question … Asked several questions about the Twitter situation, Weiner stuck to his message. ‘I understand you're doing your job, but I'm going to go back to work now.’” Must-see video:
Trying to put last weekend’s ambiguous online mini-scandal behind him, Rep. Anthony Weiner told reporters outside his office Tuesday that he’s “not going to talk about this anymore.”

But Weiner, a veteran and champion of New York City’s media scrum, may be the single worst-placed congressman to hunker down and wait for a flap to fade.

The Queens congressman is a combative MSNBC star with a corresponding conservative target on his back. He is also viewed as the frontrunner in what is already shaping up as an intensely competitive Democratic primary for the 2013 election to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He’s a media favorite, a source par excellence and a magnet for cable news cameras - on full display in two interviews broadcast by CNN Tuesday.
At National Journal, Ray Gustini writes:
Hypothetical pie throwing or not, even sympathetic political observers trashed Weiner's performance. Salon's Steve Kornacki said it was a "totally and completely out of character" effort from the usually press savvy congressman. "This evasiveness was notable," Kornacki continued, "as was the lack of Weiner's trademark swagger. It was an uncharacteristically defensive performance that seemed to go on and on, with forced attempts at humor and awkward efforts to change the subject to ... Clarence Thomas." At the Washington Post's The Fix blog, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake called Weiner's conduct "odd."