The first thing you need to know about Rep. **Anthony Weiner**'s press conference this afternoon is that, at at the beginning, there wasn't much Anthony Weiner. Instead, conservative provocateur **Andrew Breitbart** made an appearance, vigorously defending his "reporting" on the New York congressman's Twitter troubles, and challenging reporters to find fault with his coverage.
As for Weiner, he arrived ten minutes after Breitbart's departure, and immediately began to apologize. The lewd photo he tweeted last week? A picture of himself, meant as a private "joke" to a Twitter follower, but mistakenly posted to his public feed. In addition, Weiner explained the full extent of his "inappropriate" online: explicit conversations with several women he met on the internet, through Twitter, Facebook, email and occasionally the phone, which also included photographs. Although these (mostly) took place before his marriage, he feels that he's "brought pain" to people he cares about most, and is "deeply ashamed" of his "terrible judgment." That said, he is not resigning from the House of Representatives, and his wife does not intend to end their marriage.
Insofar that we've been forced to endure this media circus, it's because a few consenting adults held private sexual conversations over the internet. Yes, Weiner sent a photo to someone he didn't know, but aside from that, its (apparent) titillation value and Weiner's personal embarrassment, there's nothing significant about this story. In addition to not violating his oath of office, Weiner hasn't violated congressional ethics rules, and certainly hasn't broken the law. Somehow, adults are supposed to be scandalized by normal, unoffensive behavior that has no bearing on a lawmaker's ability to do his job. Which is to say that from where I sit, this press frenzy looks less like a drive for accountability and more like an exercise in shaming.
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