United States Representative Anthony Weiner experienced a bit of a problem over the weekend, possibly in more ways than one. Rep. Weiner, who is best known as a Democratic firebrand in congress, may now be known for something more evocative of his last name.
The vocal New York congressman is an avid Twitter user. Many of his tweets are personal in nature, ranging from everyday life situations to politics and sports. On Friday, May 27, Weiner’s Twitter account posted a tweet that took personal to a whole new level. The tweet, which was sent to a 21 year-old college student, contained a photograph of a man’s bulging underwear.
Weiner removed the post from his account almost immediately. A few days later issued a statement dismissing the issue and claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked. He told reporters that the post was a prank but he did not file a police report. He instead hired a lawyer and refused to talk anymore about the issue, a move that helped to fuel the growing media speculation about the incident.
On Wednesday, June 1, Weiner broke his silence and confirmed to an MSNBC host that the post was a prank. However, he could not say with certainty that the photograph posted was not of him. Luckily for Weiner, the recipient of the photograph wrote an article for the New York Daily News that identified a probable culprit and debunked many rumors that were floating the media.
Weiner should have fully addressed the issue sooner through his Twitter account and media relations operation. Trying to ignore an issue will almost always have negative consequences, especially for a public official. Finally, Weiner’s claim that he did not know whether the picture in question was of him or not is a horrible media relations move. That blunder may drive future speculation and media coverage. Weiner may get lucky this time, but in the future he needs to address gaffes sooner and more effectively to avoid a public relations crisis that could end his political career.