Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997, initially as a staff writer for the New
Rep. Anthony Weiner graces his Twitter postings with his 1981 high school yearbook photo from Brooklyn Tech.
This seems fitting.
The high-tech high jinks swirling around him in recent days have that high-school feel -- even if Weiner (D-Forest Hills) sees in the mirror a married man of 46 who pursues the political limelight.
When a photo of an unidentified male from the waist down, wearing only underwear, appeared in Weiner's Twitter stream, addressed to a college student in Seattle, he and his staff said a hacker did it. True to form, Weiner then tweeted: "Tivo shot. Facebook hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next?"
But then he hired a lawyer, and did not file a police complaint. Suspicion quickly surrounded his initially plausible claims of hackery. Suddenly, Weiner was getting grilled. His attempts to be cute at news conferences, about how he was now getting more followers than Rep. Michelle Bachmann and such, fell flat.
Rather than just say, at first, if he really did the lewd tweet, during a hallway exchange Tuesday with reporters, he called a CNN producer a "jackass" and went with variations of: "I'm not going to allow this to decide what I'm going to talk about for the next week or two weeks."
But Wednesday, he talked about it some more in a passel of new and cringeworthy interviews. He would not say if the photo was of himself -- but began to deny he sent that photo to that woman. He said the image may have been "manipulated," whatever that means.
Sorry, but how often does someone -- at a certain point in his life -- not know if a lewd photo was taken of him?
"We've retained a firm that is going to take a look at the Internet security to make sure this does not happen again," he said.
Facing the cameras in hopes of emerging unscathed, Weiner fell back on the rhythms of that old reliable time-to-get-back-to-the-business-of-governing dance.
In Washington, D.C., it would not be bizarre to think the camp opposed to a certain elected official might try to drive or even catalyze a negative personal story. The fact that this began with a report on right-wing commentator Andrew Breitbart's Biggovernment.com generates its own buzz.
But come on. Camp Weiner hasn't given a hint as to how even a hypothetical conspiracy might have unfolded, or posed any alternate theories.
Permanent adolescence seems to be the lifestyle of choice in Congress. One thing that comes to mind is the exit of Western New York Rep. Chris Lee, a married Republican. He stepped aside after his now-famous shirtless photo was sent by cellphone to a prospective date. That mess was fueled by a report on Gawker.com. No charges of a setup have emerged in that one.
Isn't instant communication a wonderful thing?
Weiner now has a problem that won't be helped by his continual presence as congressional Democrat on the news networks or high-profile debates on the House floor.
He's eyed the New York City mayoralty twice. In 2005, he ran impressively in his party's primary to oppose incumbent Michael Bloomberg but got behind the eventual nominee, Fernando Ferrer. In 2009, he passed, and ex-Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. got the nomination against Bloomberg.
The Weiner-for-mayor concept may well have run its course -- especially if Weiner proves not only less than frank, but purposely deceptive.