For the purposes of this post, the term "media" will not be limited to only newspapers and sites of that sort but will also cover political blogs. I will, however, discuss the latter separately from the former, to the extent that I can distinguish between the two.
My initial idea was to address the way Andrew Breitbart, a circus figure among the conservatives, was invited to speak at Weiner's press conference. It was not Breitbart's press conference, and he was not meant to speak there. But the journalists in the room invited him to speak. Or rather, to rant.
And the circus was on! Later all the three rings had simultaneous events. In one ring the women Weiner had contacted were ripped apart by certain types of political blogs. The case of Gennette Cordova is the one I have most evidence about. She did not invite Weiner's underpants picture and she was not pleased to receive it.
What happened to her next is disgusting. First, the press invaded her campus:
Media outlets from all over the world are calling and sending emails to staff at Whatcom Community College after a lewd photo was sent to a student from the Twitter account of a New York congressman.This is a private individual, mind you. And here are the consequences, as she wrote about them some time ago:
Students at the college are being careful about talking to strangers on the campus, said KIRO 7 Eyewitness News North Sound reporter Lee Stoll.
WCC student Kelsey Rowlson said the campus has had a lot more visitors than usual this week.
"(The) 'Today' show was here today and then 'Good Morning America' called yesterday, … New York Times," said Rowlson, laughing.
The last 36 hours have been the most confusing, anxiety-ridden hours of my life. I've watched in sheer disbelief as my name, age, location, links to any social networking site I've ever used, my old phone numbers and pictures have been passed along from stranger to stranger.It's like being pecked to death by vultures. Those labels she mentions appear to come mostly from the right-wing blogs. A summary can be found here, though I should warn that the quotes are sexist and racist and just plain nasty. Vultures. Did I already say that?
My friends have received phone calls from people claiming to be old friends of mine, attempting to obtain my contact information. My siblings have received tweets that are similar in nature. I began taking steps, though not quickly enough, to remove as much personal information from the Internet as possible.
Not because I "was exposed as Weiner's mistress" or because I "was responsible for the hack," as Gawker has suggested. I removed my information because I, believe it or not, do not enjoy being harassed or being the reason that my loved ones are targets of harassment.
I have seen myself labeled as the "Femme Fatale of Weinergate," "Anthony Weiner's 21-year-old coed mistress" and "the self-proclaimed girlfriend of Anthony Weiner."
And this is what Cordova has stated more recently:
But Ms. Cordova said that, for her, the last two weeks had brought an unwanted frenzy of media attention and, she said, misperceptions about her involvement with Mr. Weiner.
“I’ve had a really hard time trying to fight these implications that I’ve been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a married congressman,” she said.
She has struggled to stay out of the limelight, leaving college and completing class work by phone and e-mail.
So what "right-to-know" argument could ever justify this treatment and the costs to her? But I guess it's all circus for the callous among us.
Another ring of this circus has been busy writing about Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife. Does her possible pregnancy make what her husband did worse? Should we take over her defenses now that she is in a fragile state? Is she going to stand by her man? Is she an opportunist climber who just wants to hang onto the power he has. Or is she the more powerful of the two in that marriage (well, that piece is actually quite good)? How is she reacting to all this (still a stunning brunette, it seems)? And on and on and on it goes.
And what's happening in the third ring? Ah. Chris Matthews, who did back-pedal from this argument later in the same show:
FEEHERY: I think we all feel for his wife right now. You know, Democrats think back to Gerry Studds…Well, it was worth a try, right, Chris? He always does try to blame the wives.
MATTHEWS: He says his wife knew. He laid it out on her.
FEEHERY: Which is terrible. Terrible mistake.
MATTHEWS: But maybe she’s party responsible if she knew about it?
MACMAHON: She’s not responsible.
FEEHERY: She’s not responsible. Come on, that’s ridiculous.
Near the end of the broadcast, Matthews backtracked: “Putting a bit of the blame on her, I don’t think that’s fair. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I agreed with that. I certainly don’t. This is his problem. People love people, they marry them despite their faults.”
For what it’s worth, Weiner did not say that his wife was aware of his recent conduct and only told her that he’d been lying about it this morning.