ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl did a sit-down interview with embattled New York Congressman Anthony Weiner days ago, back when Weiner was still determinedly following the exact wrong script on how to weather a political scandal, lying up and down about how photos of his crotch ended up on the internet, denying the undeniable and preening with faux outrage at Karl and other members of the press for asking questions. Karl, though, has more than a barrel of ink at his disposal to set the record straight. Yesterday he sent out an email blast to reporters around the country that included video excerpts and a transcript from the interview.
“At the time, it seemed that the most remarkable part was when he told me he could not say for sure whether or not it was him in that infamous underwear photograph,” Karl writes.
It got better when he asked whether Weiner thought it might be “inappropriate for a member of Congress to be following young women on their Twitter accounts.” What came back as a response, Karl says– the put on dramatized offense and finger-wagging advice to Karl on how to do his job– now seems a classic addition to the “hubris of the cornered politician” genre.
“The question came at the end of the interview and nearly caused Weiner to lash out at me for asking an ‘outrageous’ question,” Karl writes. “’I was the victim of this,’ Weiner declared.”
KARL: Last question. Is it inappropriate for a member of Congress to be following young women on their Twitter accounts not even from their district? You have several young woman in your account, you… 40,000 people follow you and you only follow a couple of hundred.
WEINER: It’s really outrageous. The implication is outrageous. First of all, if you ask the question, if it’s outrageous, I have a right to say it’s outrageous. It’s outrageous, first of all, to do apparently zero research on how I did… Yes. I went out and I asked do people want me to follow you? I have followed people who have asked me to follow them. I follow many people. You know, I follow Sarah Palin. I follow Paul Ryan. I might even follow you. I mean, the fact of the matter is what you’re saying, to not understand how social networks work, do you really believe I know the age, I know the positions, I know the job descriptions of everyone who asks me to follow them because I say yes. Now, have I made the mistake of not putting up on my twitter page just because I follow you doesn’t mean I agree with you and doesn’t mean I know you. That’s intuitive. Anyone who understands social media today, I have 40,000 followers. I asked people…
KARL: But you only follow a couple hundred.
WEINER: [Disparages Karl’s research for the story] Oh okay. So you went and took a look at when I posted and a lot of the people who said I’d like you to, I clicked and followed them. Now I don’t know what those people did wrong. I don’t know what the 45,000 followers did wrong.
KARL: I don’t think anyone is saying any of those people did anything wrong.
WEINER: Well, your question had a pretty charged supposition. Do you think there’s anything wrong with following young women on Twitter? Do you really think that’s fair question? I mean do you?
KARL: I mean, when you only have a couple hundred people you follow on Twitter and several are young women from outside your district…
WEINER: The overwhelming number of followers I have are from outside my district. I have 45,000 of them.
KARL: No but I’m talking about who you follow.
WEINER: I have 45,000 followers. Overwhelmingly they’re from people outside my district. By theory, those are the people that are going to be responding. If you’re asking me the average age of the people I follow, I would have no idea. But I want to tell you, I have to say as a person who’s married, as a person who has a family, for you to imply that because you found a couple of people on Twitter who are young when Twitter is overwhelmingly a place where young people do social media and somehow make an implication out of that is wrong.
KARL: I’m not making an implication, I’m asking a question that a lot of people have asked.
WEINER: I’m afraid that that’s an easy thing to say: “I’m asking a question that a lot of people have asked.” It is your responsibility– and I want you to take it seriously– that when you ask a question like that it is charged with implication and it is simply not fair. It is not fair to me. It’s not fair to my family. It’s not fair to that poor girl who’s now been besieged because of the implication. You’ve gotten the answer to this and when you said I’ve got three questions and now look where you are. This is the problem here. I would urge you. I would urge you my friend to refocus on what you think the actual issue is. This is a Twitter hoax, a prank that was done. I was the victim of this. This poor girl was the victim of this. And to somehow draw a larger line to people who have done nothing wrong, these people that I follow or follow me have done nothing wrong and the implication should not be left with that.
KARL: Okay and you’ll let us know if you’re going to go forward with an actual recommending of an investigation or asking for an investigation. Because what you just said sounds more serious: A young woman’s life has been turned upside down by this…
WEINER: By whom? By whom?
KARL: By whoever was behind this thing.
WEINER: Agreed. I think we both have had a bit of turning upside down but think about by whom. And I think the person with their forearm right now is partially responsible.
KARL: So this is the press’s fault that this has happened?
WEINER: No I think that there are some perfectly reasonable questions to ask about a hoax. Who did it?
KARL: But are you going to investigate it? I mean, that’s like question number one. Get to the bottom of it.
WEINER: And I believe that I answered it. This is a fairly important issue. Let’s face it. Whether someone posted a picture on wieners is a fairly important issue is very important. It’s one we really need to get to the bottom of. It’s much more important than the other issues we are working on. It’s definitely a four or five day story don’t you agree?