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Message to Anthony Weiner and other politicians felled by sexting scandals: before pressing “send” on that X-rated photo, think of what The Dirty might do with it.
Weiner is running for mayor of New York City, two years after accidentally tweeting a lewd photo of himself and admitting to sending sexually-charged online messages to a handful of women; the embarrassing public slip-up, which threatened to derail his political career and his marriage to Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, led the former Queens congressman to resign in disgrace and retreat to a life out of the spotlight.
He announced his mayoral bid and returned to Twitter in May, weeks after breaking his silence in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, confessing of his social-media temptation: “I knew when I did it, almost from the moment I did it, there was no good way for it to end. When I sent that fateful tweet.”
Cut to Tuesday, two months into the Democrat’s campaign, in which he is trailing rival Christine Quinn in the primary, and The Dirty — the popular, salacious, unabashedly crass gossip website run by Nik Richie — has posed new information and illicit images of alleged communications between Weiner and an unidentified young woman. (Earlier this month, The Dirty helped perpetrate the downfall of former Miramax chairman and Colony Capital partner Richard Nanula after the site posted pictures of a man believed to be Nanula engaged in a sexual scenario with adult-film actress Samantha Saint.)
A post by Richie features a blurred-out photo of Weiner’s private parts and a timeline of his purported exchange with the woman, who claims to have begun her digital relationship with Weiner in July 2012, when she was 22 and he was out of office for more than a year. She alleges that they corresponded on the social network Formspring, exchanged nude photos of each other and had phone sex. The woman also says that Weiner would send X-rated shots of himself to her Gmail account via a Yahoo account created in the name “Carlos Danger.” They spoke one time in December of last year, she claims, but Weiner reached out after the New York Times magazine story was published in April, asking for her opinion on the article (an attempt by Weiner and Abedin to rehabilitate his public image). “I’m deeply flawed,” a user reported to be Weiner told the woman in one Formspring conversation. Another message on Facebook said: “can you hard delete all our chats here.”
When reached by The Hollywood Reporter, Ritchie declined an interview, saying through an associate: “I’m just doing my job.”
Weiner, meanwhile, has confirmed the authenticity of some of the messages to Buzzfeed and later followed up with an official statement.
“I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” said Weiner. “As I have said in the past, these things that I did were wrong and hurtful to my wife and caused us to go through challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation from Congress. While some things that have been posted today are true and some are not, there is no question that what I did was wrong. This behavior is behind me. I’ve apologized to Huma and am grateful that she has worked through these issues with me and for her forgiveness. I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption that this has caused. As my wife and I have said, we are focused on moving forward.”
Around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Weiner and Abedin held a joint press conference for news media in which he confessed to being “surprised that more things didn’t come out sooner,” with 49 more days to go until the New York City mayoral primary. He again clarified that some of his cyber-sexual exploits occurred after his June 2011 resignation, explaining, “But that was also the time that my wife and I were working on some things in our marriage.”
In a surprise, Abedin — who smiled throughout Weiner’s speech — addressed reporters, saying: “It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony.” He made “horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after,” she said, adding: “I love him, I have forgiven him and, as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
The Dirty, launched in 2007 to skewer the nightclub scene in Scottsdale, Ariz., has since gone national with coverage of nightlife and low-level celebrities. While the site has sparked criticism for its frequently harsh and bullying attitude toward women, among other targets, it has nonetheless cultivated a large readership. According to Compete, The Dirty had some 140,000 unique visitors for June of this year. In addition to growing an audience, the controversy-soaked site has also raised its profile with scoops of the famous and the powerful behaving badly, from Hollywood hotshot Nanula to actor-entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher to Weiner, who may or may not get that second chance he so desperately needs in order to get another shot at public office.
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