Opinion Brief

Anthony Weiner's 'awkward' 'Weinergate' defense

Trying to move on from the lewd Twitter pic scandal, the congressman just seems to be making things worse

The video: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is typically known for his ease with the press, but his handling of the "Weinergate" Twitter scandal has been anything but. On Tuesday, in a press conference that's been called an "epic" clash, Weiner grew evasive and agitated when confronted over a lewd photo sent this weekend from his Twitter account to a young Seattle college student. (See the video below.) Though Weiner tried to dismiss the incident as a hacker's "prank," CNN reporter Dana Bash wouldn't leave it at that: "Can you just say why you haven't asked law enforcement to investigate what you allege is a crime?" Bash asked. "You know Dana, if I were giving a speech to 45,000 people and someone in the back threw a pie or yelled out an insult, I would not spend the next two hours of my speech responding to that pie or that insult," Weiner said, going on to call Bash's producer a "jackass." On Wednesday, Weiner added that he "can't say with certitude" that the photo isn't of him. 

The reaction: This exchange belongs "in a pantheon devoted to clashes between reporters and politicians," says James Oliphant in the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps, but Weiner's "uncharacteristically defensive performance," was "totally and completely out of character," says Steve Kornacki at Salon. He's typically "a smart, cocky, quick-witted quote machine." By dodging questions, says Dan Amira at New York, "Weiner is only inviting more suspicion on himself." And his "attempts to move on seem to just be making it worse," says Kashmir Hill in Forbes. Without a lot else going on, "the story has been the perfect storm for news coverage, involving social media, political scandal, and fun word play given Rep. Weiner's last name." Watch the CNN interview:

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