Not only is there nothing left that can be said about the shameful three-ring circus that was Anthony Weiner's campaign for New York City mayor, which was mercifully put out of its misery last night, it's probably best we just let the whole thing vanish from memory as quickly as possible. It's fitting, though, that as he rode off into the darkness -- and hopefully political oblivion -- he gave us one last reason to want to forget he ever existed.
By now you've probably seen what I'm talking about: the blurry image of Weiner flipping off the press as a car whisks him away from his "victory" party and back to his home where his wife was no doubt waiting with divorce papers and a baseball bat. The gesture was one of defiance, a parting shot at those Weiner blamed and will go to his grave blaming for his personal and professional collapse. Because it was always the media's fault, not the fault of the guy who, you know, tweet-hoarded barely legal fangirls and sent them pictures of his cock. It wasn't the man stupid enough to spend months Face-banging a stranger who was so eager for her own bite at the 15 minutes-of-fame apple that she'd spend election night chasing him around New York City, it was the people who had the gall to report on it.
Honestly, in the end, putting his middle finger up for all to see was literally the least offensive thing Weiner did throughout his campaign and maybe his entire political career, the first iteration or V 2.0. At this point, no one should be surprised that this is how an asshole like Anthony Weiner decides to go out, but still many in the media choose to not only react with shock to his one-finger salute, they cover for it and in effect water down the last great insult he threw the press, the people of New York City, all of us. They do this by editing it. By blurring it out. Not only is this just juvenile as hell, it's a misrepresentation of the story, because the story is that after months and even years of atrocious behavior, this was Weiner's final statement, the thing that, if there really is a God in heaven, will stand as Anthony Weiner's coda. That's the story. His unbowed arrogance, lack of remorse, ongoing willingness to blame everyone but himself for his downfall -- that his last words were, "Fuck you."
The press should let all of us see that, because it was directed at all of us, even if Weiner is too blind and stupid to realize it.
I've always said that it's the responsibility of news organizations to report the news as is. Don't censor. Don't adjust. Don't worry about whose delicate sensibilities might be offended. Just relay the story exactly the way it happened. I'm not the only one who feels like this, particularly about the way this journalistic philosophy pertains to the larger story of who Anthony Weiner is and what he put everyone through for the past several months in the name of satisfying his own depthless narcissism.
Here's Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams, hitting all the notes I just did in a far more articulate manner:
If you’re delivering the news, go ahead and do it in an authentic way. Unpixelate that finger. Drop that F-bomb. Tell the story as it truly is. The story of Anthony Weiner – dirty text sending, anger-issues carrying, unfortunate Caribbean accent wielding, and seriously delusional former mayor candidate Anthony Weiner – is one of a man deeply defined by his series of ridiculous choices. We all know full well that that finger he lifted on Tuesday night wasn’t the most idiotic or obscene thing he’s done, not by a mile. It’s not so shocking at all. But it’s worth showing in its full glory, because in that single uplifted digit, what Anthony Weiner was really doing was finally admitting defeat, and waving farewell to his career.
That last line is the important one, by the way, and it helps to make clear why it's so important that the reality of Weiner's gesture be shown to the public unfiltered: because everyone needs to be able to remember it clearly. Why? Because yeah, it was an admission that he'd been beaten, but this is Anthony Weiner we're talking about; I wouldn't be at all surprised if a couple of years down the road he takes another shot at public office. He gets that people's attention spans are short these days and that we forget easily. And he may very well try to capitalize on that with all new bullshit about being penitent and reformed and dedicated to his family and to God and to the voters and to never getting near the internet or a cell phone ever again. And that's why we'll need to keep singular images of the real Weiner clearly in our mind, images like a bitter and defeated Weiner saying, "Fuck you," to all of us.
That way we can always remember what it was like to have to say, "Fuck you, too, Weiner," right back at him.