Monday, June 13, 2011

Weiner: Backed Into A Corner

There was a time when Anthony Weiner -- the New York Congressman who sent sexually explicit photos of himself to women over the internet -- might have avoided forced resignation. It was about two weeks ago, when he was first charged. But instead of admitting the offense, he vacillated and vacillated and vacillated. He wasn’t sure whose picture that was, he said. His Twitter account might have been hacked. At that point Weiner violated Crisis Communications Rule #1: Tell the truth. And the two-week delay in finally telling the truth was a violation of Rule #2: Tell it fast.

The American public can usually tolerate an immediate admission along with an apology; but they often reject liars and those who do not ′fess up. Weiner’s decision to go for therapy is a good one, but it would have held greater weight two weeks ago. Now Weiner comes across as someone who has finally acknowledged that he may have a problem that needs treatment. On Sunday, June 12, it was revealed that additional suggestive photos were taken by Mr Weiner with his own Blackberry in the locker room of the congressional gym. They appear on the TMZ website. And the beat goes on.

As an elected official, all of this reflects on his character and judgment. Delays, obfuscating and lying earned Bill Clinton an impeachment and cost Tiger Woods huge advertising contracts and public esteem. It will end Weiner’s days in Congress and dash his hopes for being Mayor of NYC. Can he rebuild his reputation? Yes, for the most part, with the right deeds and actions over a period of years. Will he ever totally regain the public trust? Who knows? Bill Clinton is a beloved figure today. That said, Mr. Weiner’s photos will live on forever, on the internet.

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