Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weinergate and Coincidence

I have been disappointed but not surprised at the shameful reaction of the conservative blogs to the unfolding #Weinergate saga. However, I've also been both dissappointed and surprised at some of the reactions from the lefty blogosphere. In particular, because of disdain at Andrew Breitbart (which I understand), some people wrote diaries at Daily Kos claiming that Andrew Breitbart had hacked Anthony Weiner's account or that the picture posted at Big Government was photoshopped. These claims are, quite frankly, completely unsupported by any evidence, and it's sad to see part of the Daily Kos community pushing them as if they had been shown to be correct. Even more sad was the fact that people who asked questions about these ideas were often attacked in the comment sections as being "Breitbart defenders."

But my focus in this diary is to point out a kind of argument that's seen on both sides of this debate. The argument goes like this: Fact X just seems too remarkable to be a result of a coincidence and therefore any story that treats it as a coincidence must be false.

On the Right side, the claim revolves around the fact that one of Anthony Weiner's previous tweets included the line "That's 5:45 in Seattle." Since the recipient of the lewd text lives in Seattle, the argument goes, it's just too improbable to think that it was a coincidence. Now, as Tommy Christopher has pointed out, Weiner's beloved Yankees were playing that night in Seattle, so it's possible that he was somehow referring to that, but so far I haven't really seen any explanation of why that line was included in a tweet about going on Rachel Maddow's show. So, it seems kinda strange.

On the other side, however, there's the strange fact that only one person seems to have seen Weiner's original tweet and retweeted it to Breitbart, Loesch, and others. And that person, @patriotusa76 on Twitter, has been making bizarre claims about Weiner on Twitter for weeks, accusing him of "following young girls." In fact, on May 11, that same guy, the one person who RT'd the original tweet, declared that there are "sex scandal pics" of Wiener and asked if he was the next Chris Lee (the NY congressman who resigned after posting shirtless pictures of himself on craigslist). Here's a screen shot:

So again, it seems like a very strange coincidence that the one person who RT'd the photo has been obsessed with Wiener for months, frequently claiming that he's having relationships with "young girls," and previously hinting that he had "scandalous" photos of Wiener. And again, I haven't seen any attempt from @patriotusa76 to explain what that May 11 tweet was about.

In both cases, there are pretty strange coincidences. However, we know that at least one of the coincidences has to be, in fact, a real coincidence. In fact, they might both be remarkable coincidences if it turns out that it was a hack but that @patriotusa76 had nothing to do with it.

So it seems pretty obvious to me that the responsible thing to say is that these coincidences are interesting, but not at all convincing. Strange things happen in the world. In fact, as conspiracy theorists prove over and over, when you dig through every potential detail of a story, you are bound to find strange coincidences. But the reality of this story so far is that there's not really enough information to make any definite proclamations. Weiner says it was a hack. Basically, whether people believe him at this point mostly has to do with whether they think Weiner is a trustworthy person. Hopefully, more facts will emerge in the upcoming days that will help reveal the truth. And hopefully, the mainstream media will start behaving responsibly and stop pushing innuendo before we have any solid information.


  1. Thanks, Adam, for the calm and measured response to a situation that is still in flux.

  2. CNN plays nonstop outside of my office. I am made ill by the repetition every time a new Breitbart "story" breaks. We just saw a tornado kill 150 people in Joplin and now that it's over the networks are back to covering crap like this. As a result, I can understand Weiner's disgust with the media. Nonetheless, it would have gone a long way on those steps with the CNN "reporters" if he had just stated briefly and emphatically: "I did not send that picture."