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Weiner, Weiner, & more Weiner

From the Scrapbook

Jun 20, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 38 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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States’ rights has been a politically charged concept for even longer. It was a basis for secession and then for years of Southern defiance on segregation. Now it is used as an excuse for rejecting national immigration policy.

That’s an ideological gymnastics routine so impressive even an East German judge would be forced to give it a 10. By their own roundabout admission, it seems the Times editorial board cares more about pushing an agenda with the nearest weapon to hand than they do about any semblance of intellectual consistency. ♦


Weiner’s Defenders

Some of us can’t wait for the Anthony Weiner saga to end—if you find bad puns annoying, you’re probably in a fetal crouch by now. But the episode does have its upside. For the liberal commentariat, it seems it’s hard to defend a Weiner without making an ass of yourself. (Sorry; we’re afraid it’s just an involuntary response at this point.) 

Reactions to the scandal have proved as amusing as they are clarifying. Three days after the Weiner scandal broke, CNN host and Daily Beast media critic Howard Kurtz took to—where else?—Twitter to announce: “To twerps demanding I cover Anthony Weiner Twitter scandal: Whole thing appears to be faked. Sometimes it pays to wait for the facts.” For a “media critic,” sometimes it also pays to know what the heck you’re talking about before spouting off. 

New Yorker writer and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, “To turn it into something more than a mild prank, hack, whatever you want to call it, seems really excessive,” adding, “I just don’t think it’s a big deal.” Note that a few years ago, married Toobin had a child out of wedlock with the daughter of CBS News’s Jeff Greenfield, who subsequently had to sue him for child support. If anyone would like to downplay spousal betrayal, it’s Toobin. 

The biggest hypocrite of all, however, might be the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, whose purple pen spewed forth the following defense of Weiner—after Weiner confessed to lying about his online affairs:

Another Christian has been thrown to the lions. The “Christian” in this case is a Jew, and the lions are the news media but the general idea is the same. For the entertainment of the people, yet another man was subjected to near-death by mortification. Anthony Weiner, you have committed no crime—none that has been alleged or proved, anyway—[but] that is a mere technicality. It is the spectacle that matters. .  .  . We are doing a terrible thing here—we hypocrites of the press.

This, of course, is the same Richard Cohen who was reprimanded by the Washington Post in 1998 for contributing to a “hostile working environment” by acting inappropriately toward a 23-year-old editorial aide. According to an article in the Washingtonian:

Among the allegations reported to [then Post deputy managing editor Milton] Coleman: Cohen asked Spurgeon to come into his office and close the door, then queried her about her generation’s view of oral sex. Also at issue: a conversation where Cohen said it’s too bad Bill Clinton is the only one who can grope in his office and get away with it. He also is said to have intimidated her with references to his connections with top Post editors, such as Tom Wilkinson, who can hire and fire. No one said Cohen touched her or hit on her. Still, when Coleman asked the reporters if they considered Cohen’s comments sexual harassment, three said yes.

Hypocrites of the press, indeed. ♦ 


Open Season on Palin

Leave it to the “lame-stream media” to live up to the nickname Sarah Palin gave it. The news that the state of Alaska would be releasing 24,000 emails sent to and from Palin when she was governor has created such a frenzy at the Washington Post and New York Times that they are resorting to crowd-sourcing their reporting. In perhaps their first mass hire in years, the Post said they were looking for 100 people to help the reporting staff “investigate” the emails:

“We are looking for 100 organized and diligent readers who will work alongside Post reporters to analyze, contextualize, and research the emails. Think of it as spending some time in our newsroom. Our hope is that working together, we can efficiently find interesting information and extract new stories that will lead to further investigation. We don’t know what we’ll find, but we want you to be ready and open for the challenge.”

The Times, for its part, wanted readers to make a weekend of it:

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