Opinion Brief

'Weinergate': How can Anthony Weiner end the madness?

The liberal New York congressman just can’t shake questions over a suggestive crotch photo sent from his Twitter account. Here, 6 ways Weiner could put the crisis behind him

"If you smell something burning," says Roger Simon at Politico, "it is Anthony Weiner’s future going up in smoke." For the last week, the New York Democrat has scrambled to explain how a now-infamous photo of a man’s bulging underwear-clad crotch was sent from his Twitter account to a young Seattle co-ed. The normally press-savvy congressman, renowned as a fearless basher of the GOP, now finds himself fighting the media, insisting that his account was hacked yet conceding that he can’t say with "certitude" that the suggestive photo isn’t of him. What can Weiner do to right his floundering career? Here, six pieces of advice:

1. Stop acting so guiltyWhen it comes to political scandals, actual innocence isn’t nearly as important as the appearance of innocence, says Simon at Politico. But with all his non-denial denials and contorted explanations, "Weiner has looked about as innocent to me as O.J. Simpson did." Really, "he couldn’t look more guilty if he ran down Pennsylvania Avenue at high noon, wearing nothing but a pair of bulging gray underpants." To quiet this storm, Weiner must stop acting like he’s done something wrong.

2. Just tell the truth"Get it all out," says former congressional candidate Krystal Ball at The Atlantic. "Everything. All at once." My own candidacy was torpedoed when some embarrassing photos of me went viral. I learned that obfuscation and euphemism are not your friends. "When you resist the scrutiny," you exacerbate the embarrassment and inevitably "bring into question your own candor and forthrightness." Come clean and let the "media savage you a little bit."

3. Quit talking altogether"The Democratic representative has a bad case of logorrhea — he just can’t stop talking,” says Araminta Wordsworth at Canada’s National Post. "Someone needs to come in and shut him down before he does any further damage to his career." Nothing Weiner says can help. He needs to zip it… now.

4. Pick a strategy and stick with itAt first, Weiner stonewalled the media, says Ben Smith at Politico. When that didn’t work, he tried returning to his "ubiquitous, media-embracing" ways. By schizophrenically "ricocheting between those two poles" of crisis management, Weiner has wound up with the worst of both strategies: "a media blitz that raised more questions than it answered." It's time to commit to a message.

5. Start listening to advisersWeiner made the unconventional decision to mastermind his own defense, says Smith at Politico. Bad move: Even a press-savvy political veteran like Weiner, who made his name as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s spokesman, shouldn’t be acting as his "own closest adviser." The results of his "go-it-alone approach" have been bewildering.

6. Consider a name changeLet’s face it, says Jena McGregor at The Washington Post. "A big reason the Weinergate blitz exists is that the media can’t resist the chance to use such terrible puns." Indeed, says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. "This town is enjoying a Weiner roast of obscene proportions."

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