MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell looks at the Twitter scandal enveloping Congressman Anthony Weiner through the lens of politicians who have engaged in "violations of puritanism" and survived, including gay congressmen Barney Frank and the late Gerry Studds.
Over the weekend, a photo of bulging underwear was sent from the New York congressman's account to a young woman follower in Seattle. Although the photo was promptly removed, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, a board member for conservative gay group GOProud, used the incident to suggest that Weiner, who is married to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has been engaged in inappropriate behavior with young women.
O'Donnell, in reviewing the growing scandal, compared it to incidents involving Studds, Frank, and Chris Lee, the upstate New York congressman forced to resign this year after he sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman on Craigslist. In contrast, Studds became the first openly gay member of congress after he acknowledged an affair with an underage male congressional page in 1982, and Frank voluntary came out in 1987 but later came under investigation for his relationship with a male prostitute.
"Many congressmen have engaged in much greater violations of puritanism and survived politically, especially liberal congressmen representing liberal districts," said O'Donnell of Studds and Frank, both from Massachusetts. Lee hailed from a conservative district that last week selected Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, to replace him in a special election. Weiner represents the overwhelmingly Democratic New York City.
"Nothing, but nothing should matter to you less than the legal sexual conduct of any politician, anywhere," added O'Donnell.
However, exactly how to classify the conduct and whether Weiner is responsible for the photo contribute to the uncertainty keeping the scandal alive. The congressman has denied he shared the photo and argued his account was hacked in a prank, but in a curious twist, he has refused to say whether or not the photo is of him. Last night he even suggested to Rachel Maddow that the photo could be a manipulated shot of him that found it way to the Internet.
Watch the report from O'Donnell. The comparisons between Weiner and other politicians begin around the 6:40 mark.
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