Though he committed no violation of law, nor did anything with the intent to embarrass the Congress, and despite the fact that his mistakes don’t amount to a fraction of the legal or moral violations of many of his peers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Anthony Weiner (D-NY 9th) was pushed, prodded and blasted out of office. His district didn’t want him gone. His constituents still like him. Polled, they’ve shown that more than 56% of them still wanted him to remain their Representative. Those are better statistics than the majority of elected politicians.
The reason for his popularity is that he produces results and he speaks to their desires and wishes. To blazes, they feel, with what the Congressman did privately. While they feel his pain, they also feel the horrible fear that whoever steps into his office will have no clue how to do what he did so well. Those are well founded fears.
The 9th district is one that has always considered itself left out of New York City’s political benefits and many parts have felt they’ve suffered enough. Keeping in mind that Congressman Weiner represented the part of the Rockaways that suffered the greatest losses of life in the 9/11 tragedy, only to have a jet crash upon less than 2 months later. His district covers areas of wealth and poverty and every ethnic and religious group possible. He represented them equitably, explaining his continued popularity.
Every single charity, social organization and civic group has benefited one way or another by his excellent leadership and representation. Now that he’s gone, they all know that they and the communities they serve will suffer greatly. It is that, not his personal mistakes that have made so many community leaders in the district angry and upset.
The actions of Andrew Breitbart in this whole affair raise a plethora of questions about his motives, his behavior and his professionalism as an alleged journalist. We say “alleged” because his behavior in this has been far less than that of a journalist, and more of a rumor-monger and political antagonist.
After invading and literally taking the podium at the press event Weiner called without Weiner’s consent and disclosing that he had more photos but promising not to show them, Breitbart indeed showed those images to Opie and Anthony, hosts of a New York radio talk show, allowing them to take a photo of that image and did not protest their publication at all. Effectively, he permitted and enabled them to violate the privacy of the Congressman with the direct intent to destroy his reputation and his personal life, not to mention, with the clear intent to bring harm to his district. This isn’t strange, it’s incredibly bizarre and smacks of some underlying motivation not yet revealed.
Who appointed Andrew Breitbart to be the moral police of this nation’s leaders? Who gave him the right to violate any individual’s privacy? Even an elected official is a citizen and has rights to freedom, privacy and security. How did Breitbard acquire the sanctimonious authority to investigate the private conversations of anyone, let alone a Member of Congress? This sort of “journalism” is not only dangerous, it is precedent-setting. It should make all citizens, irrespective of their political affiliations, faith or gender absolutely fearful, for this is the modern-day equivalent of a lynching and anyone with any level of authority is subject to this “yellow journalism”.
Where does this end? We see a very bleak future ahead when any political leader, may be investigated privately, even when no laws have been broken. No politician, in the performance of his or her duties will be able to make a call, send an email or post any information for the fear that someone will misinterpret it, or that it will spur a private citizen investigation that will cause him or her to lose the seat they hold.
This does not have limitations to Congress. Literally, any CEO or even a low level supervisor may be blasted in the media today for some supposed moral violation, even if not a violation of law or ethics codes. There is no limit, up or down the chain. Mr. Breitbart, by his alleged and self-professed Americanism, has without fail, turned this nation into Soviet Russia, when anyone with a moral complaint about a fellow Russian could file a story with the party and within hours that person was gone. Yes, Mr. Breitbart is sponsoring a communist, socialist state.
The people of New York’s 9th, particularly those organizations that have need for and have benefited from Congressman Weiner’s aid and representation, should collectively sue Mr. Breitbart for damages they suffer as a result, because the Congressman was forced to resign, leaving them for over a month without representation – a violation of their civil rights.
Mr. Breitbart should also be held by professional editors and journalists to the same high, altruistic standard of journalism that major newspapers and media outlets have been held to for generations. He has given them a bad name and a black eye.
If the House Ethics Committee did consider this matter, they would have been forced to investigate Mr. Breitbart’s actions and his purpose, and he would have been held accountable for those actions, legally and morally. Weiner’s resignation has saved Breitbart from government scrutiny, but not civil. The disruption this whole affair has caused is not the result of anything the Congressman did, but of the politically motivated release of information obtained perhaps illegally, by Mr. Breitbart. If he gets away with this, it will be open season on any politician, in any office whatsoever.
We, as a nation, do not need a moral police squad operated by Breitbart or anyone else. If a Member of Congress has violated the law, the Congress has a process for dealing with that and Breitbart should have followed that rather than rushing to publish photos that were outside the scope of professional journalism. Scandal mongering does not deserve a place in a free society.
For the record, we do not know former Congressman Weiner, nor his wife. We do not operate in his district, but our Chief Economist and Director grew up and lived there for most of his youth, his family living there since the 1880’s. He served on a community organization that is in the Congressman’s district long before Weiner ran for office the first time as a NYC Councilman. This scandal is causing a community of hard working people great harm – which will not be cured by Weiner’s resignation, but exacerbated by that.