What does The New York Times have on Anthony Weiner that they aren't ready to tell the rest of the world yet? Probably the first extensive interviews with the women he sexted since Weiner's soft landing back on the political scene — a mid-campaign bombshell if there ever was one — but one accidental push of a button on the Times website has everyone waiting for the true return of the scandal once the Times gets its facts straight.
"I have said steadfastly I apologize for the things I have done," Weiner told reporters Tuesday morning, as he was forced to answer questions about more than one of his old demons while on the mayoral campaign trail. And it's true: Weiner has been very open with the New York tabloids in an attempt to beat them at their own game ahead of September's Democratic primary... and ahead of rumored selfies from his time in Congress that are still floating around out there.
Could the Times have its hand on more topless Twitter photos? The Grey Lady might not get that salacious, but it's got something worth deleting after a story was accidentally published online Monday, and it's got the media, New Yorkers, and scandal-lovers everyone on edge. If you click on the URL left behind by the new-deleted story at NYTimes.com, all you get is a production note: "An article was posted on this page inadvertently, before it was ready for publication." The article, by Times political reporter Michael Barbaro, who's been all over the Weiner comeback beat, was titled "For Women in Weiner Scandal, Indignity Lingers." That sure sounds like a stirring account of the difficult life the other side of a story has endured since June 2011, when it was discovered that Weiner had communicated with women whose images and online identities were made as instantly famous as the Congressman's downfall was horrendously swift.
Indeed, while Weiner's bid to become the next mayor of New York City is going quite well, things haven't been so great for the women to whom he sent pictures of his crotch. And while no one appears to have captured a screenshot or significant chunks of text from the Times' vanishing, perhaps incomplete story before the paper deleted it, there are small morsels in the Google cache. These are only two sentences to have surfaced from the would-be exposé:
"For those on the other end of Anthony D. Weiner’s sexually explicit conversations, the episode damaged careers, disrupted educations."
"Customers still taunt Lisa Weiss. "Talk dirty to me,' they joke. "We know you like it.' Colleagues still refuse to speak with her. Strangers still bad mouth her in nasty online messages.'
The rest is left to the wild imaginations of New Yorkers, perhaps the fact-checkers at the Times, maybe editors wondering about publishing selfies, and certainly the dread of one Mr. Anthony Weiner. It's a turn, to be sure, for a news organization that let Weiner and his wife launch their publicity tour in the pages of The New York Times Magazine two months ago. But then again, the Times hasn't exactly been one-sided about his main competition, either, with both a notorious hit piece and a personal-health story from New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn running in the paper within a matter of weeks. This may be fair and balanced, or it may be a few exclusive interviews that the tabloids are now racing after themselves, but it sure is exciting for a race never short on national intrigue:
NYT accidentally posts an Anthony Weiner story, written by Michael Barbaro, and takes it down. The intrigue...observer.com/2013/06/the-ne…— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) June 11, 2013
Because we won't know much more on the goods until the Times gets around to posting the story in full, this is officially the political campaign waiting game of the day: "This story was published inadvertently, before it was ready," Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha told Politico and the New York Observer. "We do not discuss stories in advance."