Ed Driscoll

The Not Ready for Primetime Players

At the American Spectator, Stacy McCain explores “Weiner’s Digital Disgrace,” which quickly mutated into the Democrat Media Complex’s Digital Disgrace as well:

For more than a week, Weiner’s liberal defenders tried to claim that Breitbart, a controversial and confrontational conservative media entrepreneur, had somehow orchestrated a smear of the Brooklyn Democrat. But as soon as the congressman admitted the ugly truth, many of those in the press who had been willing to accept his previous lies suddenly turned their attention to another question: How can Weiner survive this scandal? “I think he will stick this out,” Maggie Haberman of Politico told Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC last night.

Before we examine the question of Weiner’s political survival, however, let us pause a moment to ask: Why should Haberman or O’Donnell expect anyone to believe their predictions? Haven’t they spent the past ten days being wrong, wrong, wrong, while Breitbart was right, right, right? Didn’t MSNBC and Politico, along with most other media outlets, credulously repeat Weiner’s claim that his Twitter account had been “hacked”? Did Haberman or O’Donnell protest when Joan Walsh of Salon accused Breitbart himself of being the hacker? And didn’t Weiner, by attempting to stonewall his way through the scandal, enable those who smeared Breitbart? Indeed, wasn’t Weiner betting on the media’s liberal bias as his hole card in a high-stakes bluff?

As badly as Weiner was damaged by this scandal, the damage was perhaps nearly as bad for his apologists and defenders in what Breitbart calls “the Democrat media complex.” Their credibility was among the chief casualties of the bruising battle that began late on a Friday night, when a public message appeared on Weiner’s Twitter account (@RepWeiner), addressed to a student at a community college in Bellingham, Washington, who had previously joked that she was the congressman’s “girlfriend.” Potentially visible to the more than 40,000 people following his Twitter feed, the message included a link to the now-notorious crotch photo. A few minutes later, Weiner deleted the photo and claimed to be a victim of hackers. By then, however, the message and lewd photo had been seen and copied by several of Weiner’s political adversaries, who sent a copy to Breitbart. Within a few hours, the editors of BigGovernment.com had posted a story headlined: “Weinergate: Congressman Claims ‘Facebook Hacked’ as Lewd Photo Hits Twitter.” After that story became a sensation in the blogosphere, the congressman’s spokesman issued a denial, and the intended recipient of his message also issued her own statement to the New York Daily News. After the three-day Memorial Day weekend, Weiner returned to the Capitol and melted down when CNN producer Ted Barrett demanded an answer to the question conservative bloggers had been asking for days: If he was the victim of hackers, why hadn’t Weiner reported this illegal intrusion to law enforcement? Weiner provided no plausible answer to that question and, in a series of media interviews the next day, refused even to deny “with certitude” that he was the man in the underwear photo.

Weiner looked very guilty in those interviews, but his defenders at liberal blogs like the Daily Kos continued to spin theories of how Weiner’s Twitter account could have been hacked, and continued to blame Breitbart for what they said was a manufactured controversy. While the New York tabloids had a field day with the story, the WeinerGate scandal made only one appearance on the front page of the Washington Post (at the bottom of the page) and by the end of the week, it seemed most major news organizations were ready to “move on,” as Weiner had been urging. Unfortunately for the congressman and his media allies, Breitbart had other ideas. Monday morning, he began publishing photos that Weiner had e-mailed to a woman subsequently revealed to be 26-year-old single mother Meagan Broussard, who was also talking to ABC News. When Weiner announced his Monday afternoon press conference, many expected the seven-term Democrat to resign. He refused to do so, but his public confession was a doozy.

But prior to that, Weiner strangely thought he could bully and bluster his way through a remarkably sympathetic media, which ultimately backfired badly. He began last week by calling Ted Barrett, CNN’s Capitol Hill producer, a “jackass.” (And after all CNN has done for Weiner’s party…) He began this week with his trainwreck press conference (and/or being the after-hours latenight mop-up act for the Andrew Breitbart Show, which proved to be much more ready for primetime). And perhaps, much like WCBS reporter Marcia Kramer inviting Breitbart to the podium yesterday, as payback for Weiner’s Congressional office threatening to arrest her last week, ABC’s ran their previously-shelved interview with Weiner from last week yesterday as well.

As Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler, “Watch a desperate sociopath lie.” At the Corner, Michael Walsh similarly invites us to watch Weiner’s disastrous interview last week, which ABC held back — perhaps to protect him when he was still claiming innocence, and to pile on after yesterday’s debacle, and “Behold the Face of the Modern Left:”

I mean, how hard was it to see through Tony Weiner? Or an even worse mountebank, John Edwards, who positively oozed phoniness from every pore — and yet somehow wound up on the Democratic ticket as the sidekick to another pretentious poseur, John Kerry? Not to mention Maerose Prizzi as Speaker of the House for four infelicitous years. In a bad sign for the Big Tone, Maerose has fired a warning shot across his bow with her call for an ethics investigation; Weiner ought to take the hint and pack it in.

By comparison, a genial snake-oil salesman like Bill Clinton comes off as a somewhat lovable rogue, if you don’t count the cost to the nation of his perjury and its continuing repercussions. The country is paying a heavy price for the media’s childish celebration of what a good liar Clinton was — the problem is that much less good liars have proliferated in his wake.

Indeed, it’s as if the party of Jefferson has been taken over by the Duke and the Dauphin from Huckleberry Finn, always on the lookout for suckers and easy marks: Sad to say, such willing suspenders of disbelief seem to comprise about half of the electorate these days.

As I said back on Election Night 2008:  ”This is an unlovely party filled with unlovely people, as America’s about to find out once the Obama pixie dust wears off.”

Take a good look, America.

Though, in a week in which even the Washington Post admits how badly Obama has cooked the books on Government Motors, as John Hinderaker of Power Line adds, “Let’s Put Things In Perspective:”

At the height of the Weinergate crisis, Anthony Weiner liked to point out that his Twitter/Facebook peccadilloes were small potatoes compared to issues like the national debt. That is true, of course, although no one thought that was a key point when Mark Foley and Chris Lee got caught on Twitter, Craigslist, etc. But there is a broader point to the Weiner fiasco: why would we entrust ever more of our money, our independence, and control over our lives to politicians, many of whom, like Weiner, are depraved?

Michael Ramirez puts Weinergate in perspective; click to enlarge:

If you dare!