Rep. Weiner's Photo Hacking Scandal: A Play in Five Acts

Notes on a non-scandal

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Cast of Characters:

  • New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (minorly involved)
  • Andrew Breitbart (lead)
  • Gennette Nicole Cordova, a college student in Washington state
  • Dan Wolfe, random Twitter user @patriotusa76
  • Assorted BigGovernment bloggers including Dana Loesch, Lee Stranahan, Dan Riehl
  • Assorted bloggers from Daily Kos, Politico, Mediaite

Act I. On Thursday night, Breitbart's conservative blog BigGovernment posts the story that New York Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeted a lewd crotch picture to a woman @GennetteNicole (real name Gennette Nicole Cordova, a college student in Washington state). The tweet is quickly deleted, although BigGovernment manages to nab a screen shot. In response, Weiner tweets "Touche Prof Moriarity. More Weiner Jokes for all my guests! #Hacked!"

The end, right? Wrong. Very wrong.

Act II. Conservative bloggers begin theorizing that Weiner intentionally tweeted the picture to Cordova, and the two of them were having an affair. The evidence, slim to say the least, consists of facts such as Cordova once referring to Weiner as her "boyfriend" on Twitter, and her deleting her Facebook, Twitter, and Formspring accounts after the hacking (probably because she was getting harassed?) Adding to this, Dana Loesch of BigGovernment starts asking if it's possible to fake a yfrog account (from where the photo was sent). Confusing photo analysis is undertaken. Breitbart, meanwhile, is tweeting up a storm about it. Actually, everyone is. Twitterverse is awash with Weiner tweets.

Meanwhile, Daily Kos starts wondering how only one Twitter user, @patriotusa76 (real name Dan Wolfe), had the only unique retweet of Weiner's image. Is he the hacker? Wolfe appeared to have "foreknowledge that something was going to go down," and tweeted obsessively about Weiner and "young girls." And what of Andrew Breitbart? Was he in on it, or did he fall for it?

Act III. Cordova releases a statement to the New York Daily News on Sunday emphatically denying she is Weiner's "mistress" and describing the harassment she received from conservatives on Twitter. From her statement:

I am a 21-year-old college student from Seattle. I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan. I go to school in Bellingham where I spend all of my time; I've never been to New York or to DC. The point I am trying to make is that, contrary to the impression that I apparently gave from my tweet, I am not his girlfriend. Nor am I the wife, girlfriend or mistress of Barack Obama, Ray Allen or Cristiano Ronaldo, despite the fact that I have made similar assertions about them via Twitter.

Act IV. Back on Twitter, BigGovernment blogger Lee Stranahan reaches out to Dan Wolfe, a.k.a. @patriotusa76, who says he "had nothing at all to do with the picture being posted on the @RepWeiner account." Photoshop expert Phillip Bump at Mediaite analyzes newly-released data about the original yfrog photo, and finds evidence that strongly suggests Breitbart’s innocence, and supports Weiner’s contention that he was hacked.

Act V. Hooray! No one is guilty, everyone is innocent! Mostly. Weiner retains an attorney to advise him “what civil or criminal actions should be taken," but tries not to let this massive scandal rock the political system. "This was a prank, and a silly one. I’m focused on my work,” he emails Politico. But is this just the beginning? "That an official account of a member of Congress can be hacked has even broader ramifications," writes BigGovernment blogger Dan Riehl. "Many taxpayers may not think it the laughing matter Rep. Anthony Weiner appeared to think it was, given his own reaction."

The end. Right?

Special thanks to Gawker

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.