Commentary; More fun with 'Weinergate'

Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald.
Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald. MCT

Now comes before us in indignation one Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, Democrat from New York, who through Twitter launched an unseemly photograph to a female college student in Seattle.

Weiner, a feisty liberal who hopes to become mayor of New York, is an avid user of social networks on which he dispenses quips and commentary. He says he’s the victim of a hacker who sent out a “gag photo” of a man sporting a suggestive bulge in his underwear.

In the lofty vernacular of our times, this is called a crotch shot, also known as a Favre.

Weiner vigorously denies Tweeting the waist-down picture, and says he has never met or spoken with the young woman who received it. The woman says the same thing.

Yet “Weinergate,” as the bloggers have tagged the scandal, refuses to go away.

Here’s why: When asked about it last week, the congressman stated that he couldn’t say “with certitude” whether or not it was his crotch in the picture

This raises, so to speak, a couple of possible scenarios.

Perhaps Weiner is photographed so often from the waist down that he can’t recall all the different pictures. Or perhaps the snapshot in question was taken from an angle that makes it difficult for him to identify himself in bedroom lighting.

For whatever reason, the congressman isn’t sure if it’s him in the wayward Tweet. Most folks caught in the same predicament would know at a glance.

Unless you’re a Calvin Klein model, a porn actor or a rock star, you can probably count on one hand the number of times somebody aimed a camera point-blank at your groin.

Back in 1971, the Rolling Stones released a classic album called Sticky Fingers. The jacket art, conceived by Andy Warhol, was a pair of jeans with a zipper that really unzipped, revealing a photograph of a male torso in tight white briefs.

The rumor was that the man posing for that photo was Mick Jagger, the band’s lead singer. That wasn’t true, but nonetheless many album covers were ripped open on the shelves of record stores by young female fans who lusted for a peek.

It’s safe to say that a different sort of frenzy has been stirred by the alleged crotch shot of Congressman Weiner. In an interview with CBS News, the most he would say is, “The photograph does not look familiar to me.”

Not exactly a blistering denial.

In a stab at humor, he also alluded to his friend Jon Stewart’s joke that the tweeted picture featured such a robust weiner that it couldn’t belong to Weiner.

As this is being written, the congressman still hasn’t settled the debate over whether or not it’s him in his skivvies. Obviously there’s no law against photographing yourself in underwear, or having a friend do it.

For a public figure, however, the dumb thing is to send out such an image electronically, or to leave it in a computer file that could be hacked. Yet brainless indiscretion does seem to be trending.

In February, another New York congressman, Rep. Chris Lee, resigned after it was revealed that he had emailed a suggestive photo of himself to a woman he’d contacted on Craigslist. In his creepy self-portrait, the married Republican lawmaker was posing shirtless and flexing his muscles.

Most infamously, NFL superstar Brett Favre got in trouble for sending inappropriate texts and voicemails to a woman who worked for the New York Jets while Favre was the team’s quarterback. Included in his Neanderthal seduction efforts was a graphic picture he’d taken of his locker-room pride and joy, a gesture which failed to impress the young lady and was likely also not a big hit with Mrs. Favre.

It’s common for men to behave like knuckle-dragging morons, but cyber-technology is presenting new opportunities for self-humiliation and disgrace. Tiger Woods, who had no qualms about sending raunchy texts to the women he was boinking, was unaccountably flabbergasted, stunned to learn that some had archived these messages and shared them with others.

Rep.Weiner was known as a popular bachelor until last year, when he married a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton. It’s possible that the disputed close-up was taken by Weiner himself, or a past girlfriend or even his wife.

Or maybe it’s not even his personal junk in the photo, which would leave the mystery of how it got posted on his account with yFrog, an image service affiliated with Twitter.

If the congressman is being truthful when he says he didn’t send the picture, the story is worthwhile only as a lesson to all prominent persons who occasionally get stupid with their smart phones.

Spare us, please, from your homemade crotch shots.

The delete button is your friend.

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