Anthony Weiner's Unconvincing Night of Damage Control

He's losing even friendly pundits like Joan Walsh and Jon Stewart

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Rep. Anthony Weiner continued his feverishly vague pushback campaign about the curious (or "lewd" to use Washington press corps' adjective-of-choice) photo of an underwear-clad man sent from his Twitter account last night. After a bruising and awkward late-afternoon interview with Wolf Blitzer (in which CNN's lead political anchor asked this question: "You would know if these were your underpants?"), Weiner had a more sympathetic audience when he appeared later on The Rachel Maddow Show later in the evening.

Weiner's assessment of the situation ("It seems like what happened was someone somehow got access and tweeted a joke, I guess. When your name is Weiner you get some of those sometime[s]...I write it off as a prank...I didn't send the picture and I don't know who did.") seems plausible and could be true. But it doesn't really answer the question about how the mystery tweeter got the picture, whether Weiner is the person in it (he said on Wednesday he "couldn't say with certitude" it wasn't him), and, if it is him, why a sensible member of Congress would have such an image on his phone and/or computer, even as a prank.

Naturally, the New York tabloids are having a field day. "Battle of the Bulge...Weiner Exposed" bellowed the front page of the New York Post, while the Daily News went with, "Weiner's Pickle...Pic Might Be Him" The Post added to the pressure with a story on Gina Lee, a porn star who posted numerous sexually-suggestive tweets about Weiner, and claimed to have received a direct message from him complimenting her on her blog.

The Beltway media, meanwhile, which seemed split yesterday between giving Weiner the benefit of the doubt and blasting him as irresponsible, is coming around to the idea that this scandal was self-inflicted.  Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh, wrote on Wednesday that she would never "take the word of Andrew Breitbart or anyone in his army of political sewer workers, over the word of someone who denies his claims, without independent proof." But on Hardball last night, before the Rachel Maddow interview aired, conceded to host Chris Matthews that "the benefit of the doubt that something odd may have gone on is sort of dwindling,... I agree this is starting to look weird." Matthews agreed: "I think the whole thing is strange...I think it's his fault."

On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart--who offered a quasi-defense of his embattled former roommate the night before--offered the toughest assessment yet on Weiner's damage control efforts, especially that "certitude" line. There are three things in the world I have certitude on," began Stewart. "Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. OJ killed those two women. And the third one is what my erect penis looks like in my own underwear."

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