U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner (D, NY – 9th District) announced on Thursday his resignation from his political office. For almost a month – when his troubles started – we witnessed vague initial reactions from him regarding the authenticity of the photo that had been posted on his Twitter account mixed with lies, more lewd photos of him reported by the media, his subsequent confession that it was him on that first photo and that he sent it including that he was having online affairs with six young women, refusal to resign, more lewd photos reported by the media again, political pressure from his colleagues urging him to resign or to be completely isolated from the political process in Washington, D.C., opinion from President Barack Obama that if he was in this situation he would resign, and at the end his resignation which was inevitable judging by the circumstances.
Initially U.S. Representative Weiner was careful in his statements about the photos that had been posted on his Twitter account. He said that he didn’t send them, that he can’t say with certitude that it was him on these photos, and that his system was hacked. He added that “pictures can be manipulated… dropped in and inserted” probably as a means to cover up the “can’t say with certitude” part of his statement. While it is a plausible justification to “can’t say with certitude,” the latter in and of itself rang a bell about the whole story. It increased the likelihood that it was really him on the photo showing an erected penis inside tight underpants which increased likelihood, in my opinion, raised the American media’s interest in the story.
More lewd photos – then allegedly – of Mr. Weiner appeared on the web, the mainstream media reported, including rumors about emails that he exchanged with a woman from Nevada. In my opinion that prompted him to admit having had online affairs with six young women, that the photo that temporarily appeared on his Twitter account was of him, and that he sent that photo. He must have known that hiding what he had been doing was not an option anymore.
However, he probably didn’t expect the outcome – that a resignation would be inevitable – since he added to his statement his decision not to resign. Another probable expectation of his is that he figured out that resignation would be the most likely outcome but at the same time was hoping for lower level of attention to his story which would not lead to urges from both sides of the aisle for his resignation.
Unlucky for him more lewd photos were reported which further tarnished his reputation before it even had the chance to start to rebuild itself. More and more calls for his resignation started to appear, including some of his donations to Democratic colleagues having been donated by them to charity apparently in an effort not to associate with him anymore. We also witnessed talks from Democrats to strip Mr. Weiner of his membership at the Energy and Commerce Committee.
And with the attention almost strictly turned to him every day stalling the political affairs in Washington, D.C. and with a growing isolation from his colleagues he had to do what was already completely inevitable – resign. All he had to do was wait for his wife – Deputy Chief of Staff and Aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin – to return from a job-related trip to abroad, most likely to have a talk with her before announcing his resignation.
How about that social media
It all started with that photo featuring Mr. Weiner’s erected penis covered by his underwear which was posted on Twitter. Imagine if the Golden Decade hasn’t appeard yet, the likelihood of this story would be much lower. Imagine there was no Internet today, such a story would be even harder to appear and be continuously reported by the media since the latter would be limited by air time (TV and radio) and ink (newspapers, magazines).
With the improvement of information technology, especially the social media websites of the Golden Decade, public officials are more scrutinized, and every right or wrong step in their life is becoming more likely to sabotage their career, depending on how sensational that step is.
The advance of information technology – including social media websites, among other things – undoubtedly makes society better off. We now have more access to any kind of information than ever before which enhances our capacity to educate ourselves on numerous topics. That being said, the nature of information doesn’t matter meaning that any kind of information has the potential to be spread extremely fast nowadays. Ask Anthony Weiner about that.