No sooner had Mr. Weiner delivered a startlingly abject admission and apology -- carried live on television Monday from a circuslike news conference in Manhattan -- than top Democrats on Capitol Hill began distancing themselves from him and his behavior.
Several, including Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, called for an ethics inquiry into whether Mr. Weiner had violated House rules or used official resources to carry on his salacious electronic conversations.
Representative Steve Israel of Nassau County, the leader of the party's effort to recapture a majority in Congress, said Mr. Weiner had "embarrassed himself, his family and the House."
There's some sense out there that this is a non-story. From Jamelle:
Insofar that we've been forced to endure this media circus, it's because a few consenting adults held private sexual conversations over the internet. Yes, Weiner sent a photo to someone he didn't know, but aside from that, its (apparent) titillation value and Weiner's personal embarrassment, there's nothing significant about this story. In addition to not violating his oath of office,
Weiner hasn't violated congressional ethics rules, and certainly hasn't broken the law. Somehow, adults are supposed to be scandalized by normal, unoffensive behavior that has no bearing on a lawmaker's ability to do his job. Which is to say that from where I sit, this press frenzy looks less like a drive for accountability and more like an exercise in shaming.
I think this is wrong. Political reporters cover politicians. Anthony Weiner's career, as a politician, is endangered. I don't think that danger is simply reducible to a media-manufactured scandal. I think any political handler for a Weiner mayoral campaign would view these pictures, and more so Weiner's lying, not simply as a press problem, but as constituent problem. Jamelle offers his beliefs, which I happen to generally share. But those beliefs should not be conflated with those of Weiner's constituents, present and potential. I don't know how a political reporter neglects to cover that story.
If I were Dictator of All Media, I would force every reporter to include a sentence in each of their stories that begins, "This is important because..."
I don't think it's particularly hard to complete that sentence. Here is one of many: my way: "This is important because Weiner is one the most strident progressive voices in the House, on domestic issues, and was the odds-on favorite to be mayor of the largest city in the country in 2014. That is in danger now."
But then I don't know why I'm talking, Melissa Harris Perry said it a lot a better.
Maybe he has not violated any laws...but the fact is he has made himself a significantly less effective spokesperson for all the issues and all the constituents he cares about, and in that I do believe it's fundamentally news-worthy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.