So this is what it’s come to: As Anthony Weiner tried to end an excruciating press conference in which he admitted to sending the underwear bulge Tweet and lying about it, someone repeatedly shouted:
“Were you fully erect?”
The moment — even if that didn’t come from a reporter — perfectly captured the scene, and suggests this story isn’t ending anytime soon.
At his presser just now, Weiner apologized to just about everyone. He apologized to his wife. He apologized to his staff. He even apologized to Andrew Breitbart for initially suggesting that the story was bogus. He copped to repeated online relations (if not physical ones), excoriated his own judgment, and said that while he isn’t resigning, it will now be up to his constituents to decide whether his awful behavior merits kicking him out of office. He repeatedly wept (though some conservative bloggers immediately tried to argue that the tears were fake). He even hinted that he might now see a shrink.
But if you think this story is over, you’re kidding yourselves. The press corps seemed at its most excited when the presser veered into the question of whether the women he engaged in online relations were under age. Weiner sought to put these to rest by asserting that he had no reason to believe they were.
“I don’t know the exact ages of the women,” Weiner said. “To the best of my knowledge, they were all adults...All I know is what they publish themselves in social media.”
“Young enough to be your children!” an angry female reporter repeated, again and again.
This is the foothold that conservatives — and reporters who are so inclined — need to keep this story going. As National Review’s Jim Geraghty tweeted:
The chyron on Fox News right now: WEINER (D): TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, THEY WERE ADULTS
The problem for Weiner now is that reporters may conclude that this is an assertion that can be either proven or disproven. And they may set about doing that.
Why promising young politicians — he has long been expected to run for mayor in 2013; now that seems far less likely — do these things is one of the mysteries of the ages. I don’t know if Weiner has successfully put this to bed in the eyes of the major news outlets or not. Maybe now that he’s copped to lying they’ll decide he’s done his pennance. It’s certainly possible that only conservative media outlets will try to pursue the story from here on out, though you can expect them to pressure the major news orgs to say on it.
Judging by the shouted questions at the presser,it seems likely that Weiner’s travails are only going to get worse before they get better.
UPDATE: Okay, the question about Weiner’s erection may not have come from a reporter, but still, it was pretty close to representative of the presser’s overall tone. I’ve edited the above to correct.
UPDATE II: Nancy Pelosi and DCCC chair Steve Israel, in what appear to be coordinated statements, have both called for an ethics investigation into Weiner’s conduct.