In keeping with the way this screwball scandal has played out over the past week, Rep. Anthony Weiner held perhaps the strangest press conference ever.
The gist of the presser was Rep. Weiner admitting that he did, in fact, send the now-infamous crotch pic, but had intended for it to be a direct message. Once he realized the error, he says he took down the photo and came up with the hacking story. After admitting to the lie, he issued a teary apology to everyone, especially his wife, Huma Abedin, who is an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Moreover, as it turns out, Weiner said he’d engaged in online exchanges with a number of women, though he said he’s never met any of them and much of it was before he was married.
But before all of that could happen, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart took the stage, leaving many people to wonder across Twitter whether he’d hijacked the press conference.
In one story on CNN, it says Breitbart happened to be in a hotel down the block, which doesn’t explain how he ended up on stage at a Congressman’s press conference.
In a separate CNN story, it says Breitbart was in the audience and was urged by reporters to take the stage.
(ABC News says it also has details about exchanges with another woman from Texas that it had been prepared to release.)
Ultimately, the chaos of this press conference was further evidence that this situation got away from Weiner due to outright lies. While there have been questions about the crisis comms counsel Weiner received, it’s possible, even probable, that his publicists were among the many that also got the false story. Even the best comms pro can’t do their job when they don’t have the truth.
So what started as a few snickers over a holiday weekend after which we mistakenly thought this was a situation Weiner had well in hand, it turned into chaos due to lies, a disastrous media blitz to repeat those lies, and then an attempt to shut down the questions by saying he would like to return to work. He’ll be lucky if he keeps his job, though he says he’s not stepping down.
During this morning’s keynote, Sen. Schumer quoted Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” He was talking about the positive contribution that social media is making towards greater government transparency. Just a few hours later, the dumbest story in weeks proved those words to be true.