Anthony Weiner thinks his brief absence from elected office means the public will forget his disrespect and disdain for women. He's wrong. He didn't just treat strange women like sex objects, he harassed female journalists who work on Capitol Hill. Two of us work at The Washington Times.
Mr. Weiner was forced to resign from Congress in 2011 because he was caught texting and tweeting pictures of his private parts to women, some from the House members' gym. The married Democratic congressman thought the scandal would blow over, but House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Deborah Wasserman-Shultz were so disgusted with his behavior, they told him to take a hike.
A year earlier, The Washington Times White House Correspondent Susan Crabtree was covering Congress for The Hill. She was reporting on the House Ethics Committee's conviction of Rep. Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, and possible punishment. She wrote that her sources said Mr. Weiner might speak on the floor in defense of Mr. Rangel to get a lighter penalty than censure.
Mr. Weiner was furious with the story, probably because it could jeopardize his mayoral ambitions by being associated with the tax cheat. On Dec. 2, Mr. Weiner saw Ms. Crabtree in the Speaker’s Lobby, which is the area off the House floor where reporters wait to talk to members as the enter or leave the chamber.
Ms. Crabtree asked him if he would be speaking in Mr. Rangel's defense that day. He replied that she had not verified that detail in her story. She told him that she had had two very good sources that said, exactly as she wrote, that he was considering speaking.
Mr. Weiner then gave her the middle finger — in front of all the other reporters — and quickly walked away.
The congressman wasn't just being a jerk and targeting a female journalist, but he was deceitful about his intentions.
As Ms. Crabtree reported the following day, during the censure vote, Mr. Weiner and two other Democratic members of the New York delegation gathered around Mr. Rangel in the well of the chamber to show their solidarity.
Mr. Rangel, the former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, became only the 23rd member of Congress in history to be censured by his colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Six months after Mr. Weiner flipped off Ms. Crabtree, he subjected me to humiliating sexual comments. I was covering the sexting scandal for The Times. On June 1, the whole Capitol Hill press corps was looking for Mr. Weiner to get some answers.
I happened to be the only reporter in the Speaker's Lobby when Mr. Weiner walked out, clearly looking for someone to tell more of his lies about the scandal.
At this point, he was still denying everything, telling the press that his Twitter account had been hacked. The other women had not yet come forward to show their own naked pictures sent by the congressman.
That day, Mr. Weiner stopped when I approached him and moved in very closely, about six inches from me. He debated me on the charges against him by making sexually explicit jokes at me. As this went on, dozens of reporters crowded around us in a huddle.
Here is the encounter, which I tape-recorded. I've italicized the worst parts. Click here to listen to the entire audio.
Weiner: We don't know where the photograph came from. We don't know for sure what's on it. We don't know for sure if it was manipulated. If it was taken out of one place and dropped something else. And I'm going to let the firm get to the bottom of all that. Jon Stewart might have actually been right last night.
Miller: Are there pictures out there of you undressed? Do you have pictures that exist?
Weiner: You know this is part of the problem with the way in which this has progressed and one of the reasons that I was, perhaps — you'll forgive me — a little bit stiff yesterday. [Laughter as Weiner smirks at a male reporter.]
Miller: Jesus Christ.
Reporter: You've used the word firm, you've used the word...
Weiner: Can I ask, is there a weiner joke that hasn't been used in this context?
Miller: You're making them all, though.
Weiner: I'm making them all?
Miller: You're making all those.
Weiner: I would refer you to any of the coverage of this case, the jokes kind of write themselves.
Mr. Weiner then gives an extensive defense of his privacy. A reporter asked him to explain how he claimed to have been hacked but did not deny taking the photo of himself.
"We know for sure I didn't send those photographs. We know for sure that someone did. We know for sure that one of my follower's name was inserted. We know for sure she's put out a statement she doesn't know me. I certainly don't know her. I don't really know her connection to this, but her statement speaks for itself." He then explained that he was tweeting at time and deleted the tweet when he saw it.
Miller: How did someone get a picture of you in your underwear, if that's possible?
Weiner: We don't know where this photo came from, if it has been manipulated, which is a possibility. As Jon Stewart alluded to last night, there are reasons to believe it might have been. [Weiner smiled at a male reporter and laughed.]
(Comedian Jon Stewart, Mr. Weiner's close friend and former roommate, joked on the previous night's show that he remembered his friend as being less well-endowed.)
Weiner: We don't know that it's a police matter. I got spam yesterday. ...
Reporter: How can it not be?
Weiner: How can it not be? Very easily. Every day all of us get spam. Every day, all of us have people responding to us, 'Can't believe you're sending me this.'
Miller: You're a member of Congress.
Weiner: I'm a member of Congress. I'm also a citizen. There's nothing official about someone sending ... by the way. ...
Miller: You're standing in the Speaker's Lobby, having 40, 75 reporters around you. If this is an issue of the Capitol Police, if this is ...
Miller: Because you're a member of Congress standing in this Capitol ...
Weiner: But a member of Congress doesn't mean when someone sends a piece of spam to my account, doesn't make it a federal offense.
Miller: But this whole issue could go away. ...
Weiner: I am trying to find out, and I think I have taken steps to do so. If you'll forgive me, I know we're now in the weeds of a particular issue. If you can take a step back — not literally — you can step as close as you like. Let's remember what happened here. A congressman named Weiner who has a rather edgy, perhaps aggressive Twitter feed. Where he was spending the whole day poking at Clarence Thomas, gets a Twitter picture of fill in the blank.
This was a prank, intended to derail me or distract me, whatever it is. It is not a federal case. Now maybe it will turn out — forgive me — that this is the point of al Qaeda's sword [laughter] and that this is the effort, this is where it's going to begin. And I've asked internet security to take a look at my private Internet feed — my private Twitter feed that has 45,000 followers, more than Michele Bachmann, I want to point that out. I finally passed her.
That interaction shows the real character of Anthony Weiner. Today, he does not claim to have learned to respect women in his brief absence from public life. He is solely focused on regaining power and fame.
The disgraced congressman asked New York voters Wednesday to give him a "second chance." He doesn't deserve it.
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