Has there ever been more manufactured and phony hype about a certifiable non-issue than so-called WeinerGate? If so, then I’m hard pressed to recall what that issue might be.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York), of course, is accused of… Well, it’s not clear what, exactly, Weiner’s being accused of. His Twitter account apparently was hacked, or used by a trusted friend or employee for illicit purposes. And so, a close-up shot of a man’s crotch in underwear was sent from his account to a woman in Seattle.
By contemporary standards, the shot is pretty lame and tame. And, as soon as the Congressman realized the pic had been sent from his account, he disavowed and deleted it. The woman from Seattle, likewise, immediately repudiated the notion that she was some sort of love interest of Weiner’s.
“I am a 21-year-old college student from Seattle,” Gennette Cordova wrote in last Sunday’s New York Daily News.
The point I am trying to make is that, contrary to the impression that I apparently gave from my tweet, I am not his girlfriend.
There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.
Case closed, right? I mean, things happen; accounts get hacked (or sometimes misused by trusted friends and employees); we all realize that; and so we move on.
Well, no, because to impassioned partisan bloggers, both Left and Right, any such incident is a chance to score political points. It’s a chance to beat up the other side, bloody them politically, and pile on the points for your team. And so this non-story quickly — nay, immediately – became the latest “SCANDAL!”
The highly influential blogger Robert Stacy McCain, for instance, has been all Weiner all the time, with countless stories about “WeinerGate,” all breathlessly imputing wrongdoing or a cover-up by the Congressman.
Now, I genuinely like and admire Stacy McCain. He’s one of my New Media heroes. As a lone journalist, he’s done more with his own website, The Other McCain, than many newspapers and magazines do with a staff of twenty reporters and commentators. He is a force of a nature, a dynamic personality, a superb reporter, a sharp analyst, and a highly entertaining blogger.
But Stacy: Come on! Gimme a break! There’s nothing to this story! At worst, the Congressman is guilty of having taken and sent via Twitter a pic of his underwear-covered crotch. That may be tasteless, but it’s hardly a crime.
In any case, my friend, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Remember this pic of you, which is all over the Internet?
It’s clear, I think, that Weiner himself never sent this lewd pic to the 21-year-old college student in Seattle. However, others with access to his account or the pic perhaps did. We just don’t know — and we really shouldn’t care.
I do know, from personal experience, that Twitter accounts can and do get hijacked. That happened to me, in fact, not so long ago. All of a sudden I got a number of tweets and direct tweet messages telling me that my account had been hacked.
Apparently, a third-party Twitter application that I had adopted had enabled someone to access my account and to send my followers a lewd message. A kind Twitter follower told me exactly what to do to remedy the situation: Delete all third-party applications and change my password, he told me.
The point is that Twitter accounts are hardly Top Secret venues protected by inviolable, ironclad security protocols. In fact, quite the opposite: They are open-source, public venues that are quite transparent and penetrable. That’s why no one -– including especially the Congressman — uses Twitter to convey or protect national security secrets.
In the new social media, security and privacy are oftentimes non-existent, or at least severely limited. Fine. We all get that.
Still, that hardly warrants the type of breathless and intense media coverage of “WeinerGate” that has so consumed the blogs and even many legacy journalists.
Partisan and ideological blogging is fine and even welcome. In fact, I myself partake in the sport (here at FrumForum and elsewhere) on a routine and regular basis. But when you fire your weapon, you better be damn sure you’re striking a legitimate target. Anthony Weiner’s hacked or misused Twitter account is not a legitimate target. Time, then, to move on. Time to look and aim elsewhere.