Guy Benson

Many politicos regard Rep. Anthony Weiner as a firebrand liberal and a prominent member of New York's Congressional delegation.  Over the weekend, the world also learned that he is either (a) the victim of a malicious online "prank," or (b) a married man with some explaining to do.  Here's the background:  Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site has been investigating a mysterious tweet disseminated over Weiner's verified Twitter account.  The message in question included a link to a photograph of what appears to be a man's clothed erection.  The photo, which was directed at a Seattle-area college student, has been traced back to Weiner's yfrog account, which is linked to his aforementioned Twitter account. 

With this possible scandal gaining momentum, Weiner has offered up a series of explanations and evasions:  He claimed his Twitter account was hacked, then referred to the incident as a "prank" and compared the responsible party to a heckler, then proceeded to lawyer-up (even though he's the alleged victim of wrongdoing), and is now stonewalling the media, refusing even to say if the person depicted in the offending photograph is him.  The New York Post provides a fairly exhaustive list of the remarkable "coincidences" that must be true if Weiner's version of events is accurate:
 

...Those on the left trying to paint this as a conspiracy must deal with an array of odd elements that an increasingly tech-savvy public may find suspicious:

* Not just the offending picture but most of the congressman’s pictures were removed from the site.

* Not only did the young lady’s Facebook and Twitter accounts disappear from the ’Net (she’s apparently since started a new Twitter account, and may go back on Facebook), but also her bylines on articles in her college paper.

* The congressman made it a point to tweet what time an East Coast interview would be shown in Seattle, where the young lady’s from.

* Cordova reportedly wrote in the college paper in March about Twitter’s verifiable accounts giving access to celebrities.


Post columnist Peter Ingemi also wonders why a man of Weiner's stature would include a seemingly random coed from across the country on his very exclusive list of people he chooses to follow Twitter.  To help unravel this mystery, Ingemi floats two more potentially relevant facts about the way Twitter works:
 

1. If two people follow each other on Twitter, they can send private messages unseen by others.

2. The difference between a direct message, seen by only the recipient, and a public tweet, seen by the world, is a single character.

 
All of this circumstantial evidence leads me to two possible scenarios that may explain Weiner's now infamous tweet.  Which seems more likely?
 
Scenario 1: Some mischievious (and criminal) interloper managed to hack the Twitter and yfrog accounts of a sitting Congressman, and in a lone act of online vandalism, tweeted a suggestive photo to a random young woman in Seattle.
Scenario 2: Congressman Anthony Weiner took a suggestive photo of himself, intended to pass it along as a private ("DM") message to a not-so-random young woman in Seattle, but got sloppy and accidentally sent it publicly to his thousands of followers (even though it was still directed at the female college student).
 
I concede that the latter option is pure conjecture on my part, but as a prolific Twitter user myself (@guypbenson), it seems entirely plausible.  Indeed, I have made this same, fairly common, mistake in the past -- minus, of course, the humiliating photo bit.  As Ingemi points out, all that separates a normal tweet from a private "DM" is one measly character.  If Weiner is, in fact, the victim of a grand conspiracy here -- and not simply a libidinous, married Congressman sending crotch shots to chicks less than half his age -- he would be well served to quit hiding behind an attorney and to provide evidence of the crime he alleges.  Until he does so, many observers will apply Occam's Razor to this story and assume he's not telling the truth.
 
 
UPDATE - Weiner met the media today.  The exchange was cringe-worthy.  According to Weiner, this is all a big "distraction" and he's ready to "move on."  Convinced?



Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography