By all evidence, twenty-one year-old Gennette Cordova has committed the following crimes: Following Congressman Anthony Weiner on Twitter, and being young, female, and pretty. Stone her! But while Twitter made her an instant news target, she's also using it admirably to fight back.
Cordova landed on the front page of The New York Post today. (The story notes that "Cordova is one of 198 people, many of them young, beautiful women, whom Weiner follows on Twitter." Just the facts!) She says she agreed to pose for them to counteract the party pics from her social network profiles that have been bandied about to sex up the story. Today, she's accusing The Post of misleading her into an "exclusive interview" she says she thought was casual small talk with the photographer's assistant. She points out she's turned down more respected outlets like The Today Show.
No one has disputed Cordova's rapid statement that she has never met Weiner and never had any "inappropriate exchanges" with him. She never even saw him (allegedly) tweet the photo of an underwear-clad erect penis.
And yet. Cordova has been hounded by strangers on the internet and media organizations alike, and it hasn't stopped. Per her Sunday statement:
The last 36 hours have been the most confusing, anxiety-ridden hours of my life. I've watched in sheer disbelief as my name, age, location, links to any social networking site I've ever used, my old phone numbers and pictures have been passed along from stranger to stranger.
...I have seen myself labeled as the "Femme Fatale of Weinergate," "Anthony Weiner's 21-year-old coed mistress" and "the self-proclaimed girlfriend of Anthony Weiner."
As Amanda Marcotte pointed out, women caught in these situations — even ones who have done nothing at all — face an unfun dilemma: "If you recede from the public view in response, you're accused of hiding something. If you face down your accusers, you're accused of being an attention whore." Under these bizarre, unchosen circumstances, with a young woman at the center, the implicit media emphasis has been on the "whore."
At least Cordova has a ready platform to fight back: Twitter. "Thank you, to the writer of the article I just read, for posting my height and weight online. You disgust me," she tweeted on June 1. On May 30, she wrote, "I'm beginning to hate the word 'coed' and the connotation that it carries." Us too.
And today, she called out The Post and Politico, which headlined its pickup of the Post story with, "Seattle Student: Weiner Photo Meant For Porn Star," referring to a stripper who follows Weiner on Twitter. Cordova tweeted today, "I never said the picture was meant for a pornstar. He suggested it and I said maybe. I don't know and don't care." She questioned their headline, which is perhaps why they judiciously added the word "likely" to it. That totally changes everything!
Getting involved with The Post and speaking off the cuff are rookie mistakes — the paper isn't exactly known for journalistic ethics, and she doesn't seem to have said her comments to the photographer's "assistant" were off the record — but entirely understandable ones for a 21-year-old, even one studying journalism, caught in a bizarre national scandal not of her making.
Cordova's comments to the "assistant" included, "I'm just collateral damage," and "I just want this to be over" and "People are saying, 'You need a book deal.' What for? This isn't my place, I just want to get it over with." That has "attention whore" written all over it, clearly.
Gennette Cordova [Twitter]
Lewd Pic Recipient Worn Out By Weiner Scandal [NYP]
Statement From Gennette Cordova [NYDN]
How 'Sex Scandal' Is Sexual Harassment [Guardian]
Earlier: The Congressman's Cockshot Conundrum