Thursday, June 9, 2011

#WeinerGate: Another Lesson in Political PR

Just when you thought it was over, up pops Weiner again.

Last Thursday I wrote about a Twitter scandal involving New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s unfortunate tweet to a college student containing a picture of a man’s bulging underwear. He ignored press inquiries until the picture became headline news on almost every major media channel. He then claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked and the recipient of the picture wrote an article for the New York Daily News supporting Weiner’s assertion. Oddly enough, he told a reporter that he could not verify whether the body part in question belonged to him. I mentioned that this blunder could drive further media speculation and that Weiner needed to address future gaffes upfront immediately in order to avoid a scandal that could end his political career.

Turns out I was right. A few days later a conservative blog reported that there were even more explicit photos of Weiner that he had sent to young women around the country. On Monday the representative held a press conference to admit everything; he had sent the original tweet and had similar relationships with at least half a dozen women across the country.

Weiner’s attempt to evade the press backfired on him. The hashtag #weinergate has been trending on and off the last couple days whenever a new piece of the scandal is unearthed. His media gaffe went viral and is still taking up most of the news cycle on major networks and pundit shows.

Avoiding or lying to the press is never a good tactic for a public official. Their careers rely on the sense of trust and credibility that they foster with their constituents, much of which is established through media coverage. Now Weiner’s colleagues from both sides of the aisle are calling for his resignation. I have to give him some credit; he came clean within a week. Other politicians like Bill Clinton and John Edwards have kept their denials up for much longer.

What do you think? Can Representative Weiner recover from this blunder? Should he resign from his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?

Just incase you're considering a run for public office, here is a quick guide to posting on Twitter.

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