You’re probably scared reading the title. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Now that primaries are over, I thought I’d share the craziness that I experienced when Anthony Weiner held a press conference at a house in Tottenville.
To set the stage, let me explain when this happened. It was late July, a few days after the Carlos Danger allegations had come out. Anthony Weiner was everywhere–in the news, on late night tv, in my family dinner conversations. So when I got assigned to cover him, my intern and I of course made off color jokes the whole day leading up to the press conference.
When I first arrived at the house, I could tell it would be crazy. There were so many people there, from all different news organizations. We all set up, waiting diligently for the mayoral hopeful to arrive.
A black SUV pulled up. We all turned, assuming it would be Weiner. But it was only his press person, who introduced herself by screaming at us (without being provoked) about how she was in charge, and how dare we have all set up our cameras and microphones near the podium before she had a chance to move it.
A few days later when I heard one of his key staff members quit, I assumed it was her. You could tell she was not in a good place, emotionally.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t rattled. Yes, there were all these people there. But there was a podium, which was a good sign. We would all just have to stand here and get what we could get. Things would be civilized.
Boy, was I wrong.
A few minutes later, another SUV pulled up. This time, you could tell it was the real deal. Everyone crowded around, trying to get a shot of him walking up to the podium.
We were told that since the house he was touring had been severely damaged in Sandy, it wasn’t safe for all of us to follow him around inside. CNN would go and then give us the feed later. I was grateful, thinking that I had been spared getting elbowed out of the way trying to follow him.
Because journalists can be aggressive. Really aggressive.
He soon came back out and began to answer questions from us. The reporter from my station was the only one who asked about the actual reason he was there–to help a family that had gotten a crappy insurance settlement post-Sandy. Everyone else wanted to know about Carlos Danger.
Weiner was clearly annoyed. At that point, I didn’t really blame him. Who would want to continually answer questions about their sexting and infidelity? But one thing kept bothering me about what he was saying. As much as he said he had apologized to his wife, he never actually seemed sorry. Like he didn’t really think what he did was wrong, even though by all accounts of decency, it really was.
This only got worse when he spoke to one of the women who lived in the neighborhood. She noted that she had been a teacher, and that if she had done what he did, she would have been fired. How could he presume to run a city–where he would oversee all the heads of city agencies–when he had done something that any normal professional would be sacked for?
Instead of saying that he was sorry that she felt that way, he merely said, “I guess you’re not voting for me.”
And by his tone, you could clearly tell he was pretty annoyed. And not really remorseful.
I should add that by this point, he was no longer speaking at the podium. Instead, he had decided to talk one-on-one with voters. Which meant that all hell had broken loose for us media types. We diligently followed him as he walked around the property, talking to local homeowners. Luckily, I was working with one of our reporters. Since she’s a lot taller than I am, she offered to take the camera and do overhead shots while I stuck the microphone close to him.
At one point, the media had completely surrounded him in a circle. I stuck my hand in, holding the microphone, right next to someone’s ear. It was completely, utterly gross.
Then, he started to move. Suddenly, everything was just a sea of people. People were grabbing onto each other to steady themselves in the crowd. I felt a hand on my arm. I looked up, and saw the hand was attached to none other than Mr. Carlos Danger himself.
I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of grossed out.
Then we stopped again. I stood back a little while the reporter got shots of Weiner talking to more voters.
But he moved again. As I was about to follow him, the man standing in front of me–who was about 6’3 and 400 pounds–turned around and pushed me with both hands.
I stumbled backwards, nearly falling. I looked up and saw in the man’s face that he hadn’t realized the person who was standing behind him was a small girl. I had just been a body in the way to him, until he looked down and realized that I was a young woman.
But instead of saying sorry–just like Weiner–he tried to twist it around.
“You…you’ve gotta move!” he said, fumbling over his words.
If he had said that in the first place, I would have moved. But of course, actions speak louder than words.
Finally, Weiner decided he’d had enough of facing public scrutiny. He went back to the black SUV, got in, and drove away, cameras flashing in his wake.
A few minutes later, a man came up to me, looking confused. He asked, “What’s going on here?”
I looked at him gravely and said, “Weinsanity.”
So I’m sure you’re all not surprised that I was thrilled when Weiner lost his lead in the polls and eventually lost the primary. Not because of any policy stuff, or even because it would be kind of embarrassing to have a mayor who is famous for sexting. But because I’m just not into being pushed, shoved, or touched by people I don’t know all so I can get another soundbite about Carlos Danger.
Maybe that makes me a bad journalist. But you know what? I don’t care.