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Controversy or Nontroversy? Getting Up to Speed on Weinergate

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By HVnews on May 31, 2011

You may or may not have heard about Rep. Anthony Weiner allegedly tweeting a picture of his, um, wiener to a pretty young thing. It’s okay if you didn’t. After all, it happened over Memorial Day weekend, when most sane people check off the Internet and actually focus on enjoying their lives.

But, you would have missed a doozy of a political “scandal,” which has yet to fully come to a close. Here’s the, err, nuts and bolts, as we know them right now.

New York Democrat Anthony Weiner allegedly tweeted a photo of his underwear-covered junk to 21-year-old journalism student Gennette Nicole Cordova in Washington state (@gennettenicole) on Friday night. The evidence was immediately deleted, Weiner claimed both his Facebook and Twitter accounts were “hacked,” and of course, Internet raconteur Andrew Breitbart picked up the thread and ran with it on the grounds that something wasn’t adding up.

Indeed, that is true. Something doesn’t add up. The entire episode is really strange and will take an investigation to find out what exactly happened. Weiner is claiming his account was hacked or pranked, the other side is holding out hope that Weiner becomes the next Chris Lee. That’s really where we’re at with the scandal. Nobody quite knows where the photo came from, or how it ended up on Weiner’s Twitter account, or even whether the scandal will end up derailing one of the most liberal members of the Democratic caucus.

A commenter at Daily Kos used Error Level Analysis (sNSFW) to prove the yfrog screencap was faked (actually they have a pretty great post running down how the entire sordid episode unfolded), but that isn’t enough to persuade the right-wing.

The New York Post asks: “On Twitter, famous people tend to have tens of thousands to millions of followers — but they themselves follow only a fraction of that amount. Rep. Weiner is a man of national prominence, a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently on TV, a past and likely future candidate for mayor. He knows and is known by thousands of movers, shakers, members of the press and politicians on the city, state and national levels. Yet, as of yesterday, he was following fewer than 200 others — and, with all those famous folks to choose from, one of the few he followed was Cordova, a 21-year-old college student who lives nearly 3,000 miles away in Bellingham, Wash.”

The insinuation being, of course, that Cordova and Weiner were having some sort of illicit relationship. That is certainly fishy, but by that logic, it’s safe to assume that Conan O’Brien is definitely shagging his lone follower @lovelybutton.

Other blogs are putting up bounties to find the offending hacker, in the hopes, no doubt, that any intense investigation will reveal that it was Weiner who actually did send the offending tweet.

Further, it appears that even though Anthony Weiner has close to 47,000 followers, the only person who seemed to have seen the photo or be quick enough to retweet it was @patriotusa76 — a self-proclaimed Reagan Republican.

In an interview with Breitbart’s Big Government, Dan Wolfe, aka @patriotusa76, claims it wasn’t him who hacked Weiner’s account, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time to grab a screenshot of the offending photo.

“Look, this is a prank and not a terribly creative one,” Weiner told CNN in an exclusive interview Monday, adding: “I was hacked. It happens to people. You move on.” He’s retained counsel to explore the next steps in clearing this up, which might include both civil and criminal actions. But, the Capitol Police and FBI both told CNN they’re not currently investigating this.

It would be nice to see some journalism outfit dig into this scandal, if only because of Andrew Breitbart’s involvement. It’s no secret that he’s more than willing to push for a scandal, and it’s hard to believe the allegations from the right when they are largely coming from him.

“What we know is that a link to a lewd photo was published from a sitting congressman’s Twitter account, directed at a female recipient, whom he was ‘following,’ but visible to everyone,” Breitbart’s statement said. “Two broad possibilities exist: (1) the congressman’s Twitter account (and perhaps other accounts) were hacked, or (2) the congressman or someone with authorized access to his Twitter account sent the photo.”

Breitbart, in the same statement, called for forensic analysis of the photo to determine it’s authenticity, an investigation into the hacking claims by Weiner and at the same time an investigation “of other women linked to Weiner through Twitter.”

Because why not.

Cordova has since gone on to issue a statement of her own, which reads in part: “I also do not have a clear understanding as to how or why exactly I am involved in this fiasco. I do know that my life has been seriously impacted by speculation and faulty allegations. My reputation has been called into question by those who lack the character to report the facts. Friday evening I logged onto Twitter to find that I had about a dozen new mentions in less than an hour, which is a rare occurrence. When I checked one of the posts that I had been tagged in, I saw that it was a picture that had supposedly been tweeted to me by Congressman Anthony Weiner. The account that these tweets were sent from was familiar to me; this person had harassed me many times after the congressman followed me on Twitter a month or so ago. Since I had dealt with this person and his cohorts before I assumed that the tweet and the picture were their latest attempts at defaming the congressman and harassing his supporters.”

What should be happening here is determining whether the photo is authentic or not, first and foremost, and (it appears that it’s not) then determining if Weiner’s account was hacked and who hacked it.

At the end of the day, any rush to judgment would sully the reputation of a sitting congressman and a 21-year-old college student. But isn’t that what we love to do best?

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