The ongoing saga of Anthony Weiner reminds me of the first time I really paid attention to him -- as a mayoral candidate and foil for Matt Taibbi. In 2005, Taibbi was working at the New York Press, where he published a satirical list of the "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." The controversy was predictable; it was huge; it brought in Anthony Weiner
. Taibbi later recalled how his editor dealt with it.
"It was linked on Matt Drudge this morning-something about it being an outrage. Chuck Schumer said something about how it was the most appalling thing he'd seen in 30 years."
"That's hilarious!" I said, still not getting it.
"Yeah, well," Jeff said. "Congressman Weiner has issued a press release calling for New Yorkers to throw our paper in the trash."
Indeed he did! It was one of the great panders of the year. Taibbi, watching the paper take serious damage, took a shot at Weiner's education:
Look, we're all educated people. Even Anthony Weiner has a B.A. from SUNY-Plattsburgh. And as educated people we all realize that the "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope" had almost nothing to do with the Pope or Catholics whatsoever, and certainly wasn't hate speech.
He closed with an observation:
This was an extremely silly, trivial, stupid joke. If Senators have time for this, they must not be busy enough.