26 Jul 2013

Sex texts? I had a few, admits Anthony Weiner

He now admits sexting up to three women after he resigned from Congress. New York’s mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner slumps in the polls as the scandal over his online encounters refuses to go away.

Anthony Weiner (getty)

Anthony Weiner says he’s “working with people” to get help for his prediliction for online sexual encounters – although he denied he had an addiction. Perhaps he also needs help for his memory – as he couldn’t seem to recall exactly how many women he had traded lewd messages with.

At a news conference on Thursday in New York, Mr Weiner said he could not say how many more women might come forward: “There are a few. I don’t have a specific number for you.”

But after admitting that after he resigned from Congress over a sexting scandal. He then sent explict images to a young political activist identified as Sydney Leathers. Mr Weiner has now confessed that she was not the only one.

There are a few. I don’t have a specific number for you. Anthony Weiner

But again he had trouble remembering exactly how many women he had messaged. “I don’t believe I had any more than three.”

Now Sydney Leathers herself has spoken to Inside Edition, referring to a hit television drama about a nefarious spin doctor and his sexually charged relations with a young woman: “I feel like I’m in a real life House of Cards… he is the Frank Underwood, and myself as a Zoe.”

And she says that Weiner told her that he loved her.

Plummeting support

All this has taken its toll on the would-be New York mayor’s standing in the polls. The latest Marist survey of Democratic supporters shows his rival Christine Quinn has regained her lead, after his support plummeted nine points.

Democrats also appeared evenly divided over whether he should drop out of the race. Marist’s Lee Miringoff said the message was clear: “Clearly, redemption overload has set in”.

Mr Weiner is coming under increasing pressure to resign his candidacy, not least from leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi. The House minority leader linked him with San Diego mayor Bob Filner, who is embroiled in a sexual harrassment scandal.

“The conduct of some of the people that we are talking about here is reprehensible,” she told reporters. “It is so disrespectful of women. And what is really stunning about it is they don’t even realise it… they don’t have a clue.”

Redemption overload

Both have admitted they need therapy, she said, but that was something they should get on with in private rather than in the full glare of public life. A sentiment echoed by New York’s Democratic representative Jerry Nadler, who said Wiener needed “serious psychiatric help”.

He accused the former Congressman of showing “a fundamental dishonesty” and showing “monumental errors of judgement”.

New York’s leading newspapers have, almost with one voice, urged Weiner to pull out. The Wall Street Journal castigated his treatment of his wife, Huma Abedin: he was “not a normal human being”, thundered an op-ed.

The New York Times was equally thunderous, calling on Weiner to “take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the web and out of the race for mayor of New York City”.

Except, of course, the entire scandal has not only played out online, but been given endless new life via the overactive imagination of the internet. On Slate magazine, you could find a “Carlos Danger Name Generator“, after Weiner’s online pseudonym.

Carlos the Jackass?

Readers can type in their own names into the widget, and get their own sexting alter ego.

Even Donald Trump took to the micro-video Twitter site Vine, accusing Weiner of being “really sick”. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports that, as of Thursday afternoon, the name Carlos Danger had been repeated 4.621 times on television since the latest allegations broke.

Meanwhile the gossip site The Dirty, which first published the Sydney Leathers revelations, has promised that more revelations could well trickle out – although it seems that even Mr Weiner himself cannot hazard a guess as to how many more.

Its editor, Nik Richie, told the New York Times he had no personal animosity towards the man: “I have nothing against Carlos Danger. I’m not trying to bring this guy down.”

By the look of it, and the sound of that crescendo of resignation calls, he might be the only one who isn’t.

Felicity Spector writes about US politics for Channel News