Congressman Anthony Weiner's media tour is not doing much to dispel the growing suspicion that there is something to this whole clothed-cockshot thing that blew up over the weekend. It's just not clear what.
All we know of this thing — okay fine, Weinergate — is that a screenshot exists that would indicate that Weiner sent a college student in Seattle a photo of a gray underwear-clad erect penis, taken from above. Strangely, very few people actually saw this photo. Weiner claims his account was hacked but has declined to make a capital case of it. And then he started talking "certitude."
Specifically, he told Luke Russert, that he "can't say with certitude" that the photo isn't of him.
Maybe the NYC mayoral hopeful knew he had bungled the first press conference and given credence to people who were inclined to dismiss this as a fabrication by habitual fabricator Andrew Breitbart and co, which is why yesterday he gave another press conference, plus interviews to CNN, MSNBC (twice), and The New York Times. They didn't shed much light, besides allowing Weiner to make a lot of jokes about how Jon Stewart says his cock isn't that big.
Pressed on The Rachel Maddow Show about what he meant when he hedged about the photo being his, Weiner said, "We don't know for sure. The photo doesn't look familiar to me. A lot of people who have been looking at this stuff on my behalf are cautioning me on — you know, stuff gets manipulated, you can change a photograph, you can manipulate a photograph, you can doctor a photograph,"
Meanwhile, the college student who has insisted that she's never met Weiner and there's nothing to any reports of an affair, has been subject to creepy analysis of her breasts and party photos.
What are we to make of all this? Maybe the simplest explanation — Weiner really was sending out photos of his covered penis via Direct Message to his followers, and mangled the format — is true. Or maybe he's taken cockshots before and doesn't want to rule out that this stray one (ideally intended for his wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin) fell into the wrong hands.
Others have made of this an opportunity to talk about whether women like cockshots, and to roundly declare that what women like instead is yogurt and alphabetized bookshelves. I'm on record expressing bafflement at this, at which point I was called out by more than a few readers who see nothing confusing or unsexy about a good cockshot. Fair enough; I salute you. And I'm more sympathetic to unfair anti-dick judgment than ever after reading a Washington Post story that declares in its headline that penises are so gross to look at:
How about a picture of you, sweaty, cleaning out the storm drain? How about a photograph of you gently caressing the yogurt, as you rotate the soon-to-expire food to the front of the refrigerator? So sexy!...
"I can picture liking a photo that's a little private and romantic," says Amy MacHarg of Arlington County. She could envision a photo of some massage oils, or perhaps a man sitting at a candle-lit table. He would be holding a pan. Because he had just cooked the meal.
How about the idea that a little objectification in the right context — say, a consensual intimate relationship — might not bother a woman? (Disclosure: I was interviewed for this story, during which I said basically that, but wasn't quoted.) All's fair in the world of invited or welcome cockshots.
Unless, of course, you're a Congressman who wants to be mayor and it maybe gets out. If it's real. Godspeed, Weiner.