This is the thing about Anthony Weiner: He's just so very, very seductive. Irresistible. He makes you do things you'd never dream of doing. Well, not you. Some people. They just want to surrender to him. The failed mayoral candidate tells GQ's Marshall Sella about how this sad fact undermined his campaign from the start, when he offered himself and his wife, Huma Abedin, up to the New York Times Magazine for the profile, by Jonathan Van Meter, that was to mark his return to political respectability:
“The problem was that the story was completely different from what we thought would be written,” he told me. “I thought there’d be thousands of questions about the sexting. But there wasn’t a lot of conversation about that. We had a guy [Van Meter] who wasn’t tough enough. We needed someone to just tear away at me. And not someone who would do something sympathetic…. He wrote an aftermath story, about two interesting people. Later, I thought, ‘We didn’t get this done. Of the hundred things we wanted to do, the one thing we wanted to accomplish was to get that out there!’”
This is ridiculous, self-serving bullshit, naturally. Of course Weiner wanted the Times to believe that his habit of sending cock shots to strangers was a regrettable and regretted lapse, something he had put in his past, rather than an ongoing compulsion. Or, more broadly, he wanted the Times to believe that he wasn't the sort of obtuse, narcissistic dingbat who would be brazen enought launch his political comeback before he even stopped doing the thing that had knocked him out of politics. If Jonathan Van Meter had been aware that Anthony Weiner was still sexting, there would have been no story, and if there had been no story, there would have been no Weiner for Mayor campaign.
Which leads back to the question: why was there a story at all? Weiner comes off as a fraud and a creep in his remarks to GQ. But Van Meter comes off worse. Here is a writer for the New York Times Magazine, explaining how he came to write the politically helpful and painfully misleading story of a marriage on the mend and a politician ready for his second chance:
First off, he says, it’s not as though Weiner and Abedin phoned the Times Magazine and told them to send a random reporter on over. They chose him, specifically because they’d liked his previous features about Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, published in Vogue three years apart. “In that experience, I spent a lot of time around Huma—and she said to Anthony that if Jonathan Van Meter does it, that is the kind of writer I’m comfortable talking to,” he says. “I was chosen. They knew exactly what kind of story and what kind of writer they were going to get.”
This is the sort of negotiation you expect to see between fashion magazines and the celebrity faces they need to get on their covers. Not between the New York Times and a political figure. On it goes:
Van Meter was so personally stung ... upon seeing Weiner’s July 23 press conference to confess, again, and ask for a second chance (actually a third), that he was depressed enough to take to his bed for two days. “It was instantly clear that what had once been considered by so many people a triumph of access in journalism had now turned to shit,” he now says. “I was really bummed out.”
That a "triumph of access in journalism" turned into an embarrassment for everyone involved may be the lone public service Anthony Weiner has ever accomplished in his squalid life.
[Image via Getty]