For the last 17 hours, Stephen Colbert has taken to Twitter to show his solidarity with Rep. Anthony Weiner. Wait, strike that. He’s taken to Twitter, like thousands of others, to mock Weiner mercilessly.
After Weiner told MSNBC’s Luke Russert he could not “say with certitude” that the photograph in his Twitter stream was of him, Colbert has started posting images to his own Twitter account — innocuous root vegetables and animals photographed in a very not innocuous way — declaring he cannot say with certitude that they belong to him.
Colbert can usually make comic lemonade out of even the most rotten of fruit, but Weiner has made the bad situation worse by obfuscating. Over the weekend, he had a problem on his hands. He was either hacked, or he had a much larger personal issue: he’d been caught digitally cheating by forgetting the tiny “d” needed to send a personal message on Twitter. Either way, by continuing to expound on it and offer up elusive answers instead of facts, Weiner’s made the sticky situation much worse.
Here are three rules Weiner forgot to follow:
1) Do not create a catch phrase.
“With certitude” is “somewhere below ‘no controlling legal authority’ and above ‘wide stance,’ ” Democratic crisis-management specialist Chris Lehane told The Post’s Karen Tumulty and Felicia Sonmez, referring to the phrase that Vice President Al Gore used in 1997 to describe questionable fundraising activities, and the one that then-Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) used to explain how he came to be arrested for lewd conduct after tapping the foot of an undercover officer in a restroom stall in the Minneapolis airport.
2) Do not make junior high jokes about the matter
When the story didn’t seem to want to die, Weiner went out on a media blitz at all of the major cable and broadcast networks. Instead of coming up with answers to the very obvious questions everyone was going to ask (Did you send the tweet? Is that your photograph?) Weiner thought he could get by with infantile jokes. When asked why the FBI was not involved, he winkingly replied the incident doesn’t “rise” to the occasion.
3) Just tell the facts. One time. And be done with it.
As a very public figure, Weiner should have known that this would be a big story. He’s hiring lawyers and investigative teams and pledging not to talk about this, but he keeps talking about it. If it was the work of a hacker, he should have figured out how it happened before he started giving interviews. If it was his own photo, he should have gone into serious family crisis mode before he started giving interviews.
Instead, people are still playing the guessing game, which means the story won’t be dying any time soon.