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Weinergate’s Biggest Media Winners and Losers

Whether or not he will resign, or be forced out for lack of ethical behavior, or lose his wife, Anthony Weiner is the major loser of the last couple of weeks. But at FishbowlNY, we’re as interested in the coverage of the story as we are in the story itself. Who is getting the scoops (and there seems to be many)? Who is falling behind? We’ve put together a list. Like the scandal itself, this list is a work in progress. We will update as things turn around.

WINNERS:

Andrew Breitbart and BigGovernment: Where do we begin? Breitbart broke the story of Weiner sending pictures to girl #1, Gennette Cordova, stood by it despite being accused of hacking himself, took over Weiner’s press-conference, received a public apology from Weiner, and got girl #2, Meagan Broussard, to share her story with him exclusively, as well as several pictures — including the infamous topless Weiner. This is Breitbart’s day in the sun. Not generally known for being a reliable source, this whole media circus has been Breitbart’s vindication, almost a game-changer. From his website:

BigGovernment.com publisher Andrew Breitbart was in New York for previously scheduled meetings and went to the presser as an observer… The press then asked Andrew to go to the podium to take some questions. It was surreal and awesome. According to FoxNews, a Weiner staff ran through the hotel halls screaming, “Breitbart’s here. Breitbart’s here.”

That pretty much sums it up.

RadarOnline.com: Seems to have full access to woman #3, Lisa Weiss, who made the sex scandal that much more salacious. RadarOnline is currently printing the entire transcript of her nine month long chat relationship with Weiner, for those who can’t get enough sordid details. We don’t recommend you read it, however, like we did. It made us unspeakably depressed.

TMZ: Got a statement from woman #4, former porn star Ginger Lee, who Weiner emailed, asking her to lie, and offering to help with PR. He wrote: “Do you need to talk to a professional PR type person to give u advice?  I can have someone on my team call. [Yeah, my team is doing great. Ugh].” He also prepared a statement for her “The key is to have a short, thought out statement that tackles the top line questions and then refer people back to it…” This story strikes us as being the most deleterious to Weiner’s job. He not only lied, but he encouraged others to lie, and offered them help from his PR team. Is this a congressional PR team? No doubt Nancy Pelosi will investigate.

Daily Kos: Even though the Daily Kos defended Weiner from the beginning of the scandal, and turned out to be wrong in trusting him, they came out on top media-wise for getting themselves into the story early on, when other outlets were ignoring it. Even if it’s just to see them retract their prior claims, at least people are turning to the website.

LOSERS:

Jon Stewart: Stewart is a good friend of Weiner’s, and many have accused him of going easy on him, especially on the Daily Show last night. Weiner’s press conference should have been a Daily Show goldmine, but Stewart, after a few jokes, quickly turned his attention to John Edwards. “Talk about shooting fish in a barrel in going after Edwards to divert attention from Weiner and his own failings in analysis the past week,” described The Baltimore Sun‘s David Zurawik.

New York Post: It’s tough putting the Post in this category — their coverage of the story has been top notch. But as far as we’ve seen, the one piece of the puzzle they broke themselves was an interview with girl #1 — and they actually came off looking worse because of it. For anyone other than Weiner to get a bad mark off this story is worth putting them in the loser category. This is what happened: the Post published what it billed as an “exclusive” interview and photo shoot with Cordova, but Cordova immediately said that Post reporter Reuven Fenton had lied to her, posed as a photographer’s assistant, never identified himself as a reporter, and never asked to interview her.

“At random moments throughout the day the name Reuven Fenton flashes in my mind,” Cordova tweeted. “You are everything that’s wrong with journalism.”

Esteemed Media Pundits: Jeff Jarvis, Howard Kurtz, and many, many others refused to cover the scandal at first, believing it would blow over. Everyone came around, sooner or later, shamefacedly. Jarvis today wrote a blog post, explaining why he was wrong:

I’d said nothing about the whole hoo-ha because I didn’t think it was worth the attention. Then I got a call from Howard Kurtz’ Reliable Sources to come on last Sunday and talk about it. I said that media were using this as an opportunity for sophomoric jokes and that the fuss over a penis was a symptom of American Puritanism… Weiner lied. That is the story. That’s what haters said in email to me after the CNN segment. They were right… I’m trying to pull back from my personal embarrassment and stupidity at giving this shmuck the benefit of the doubt and see the lessons here…

Well, Jarvis wasn’t the only one who thought it was a non-story. They were all wrong, and to add insult to injury, Breitbart was right. For many, that’s punishment enough.

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