Weiner’s New York Times Profiler Missed the Key Question

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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

At a mayoral forum Monday night, Anthony Weiner got a bit short with journalists questioning him about his falling poll numbers, the Clintons' displeasure with him, and the possibility that he has some kind of addiction. "You know, I spoke at great length about this," he said when asked about an addiction. "I think I interviewed with your outlet. I gave an 8,500-word story to The New York Times Magazine. I think I’ve pretty much said what I have to say about that." The thing is, we don't know that he said everything he had to say on the topic because, as the writer of that profile revealed on Monday, one key question was never asked: "When did you stop having cyber sex with strangers?"

Vogue contributing editor Jonathan Van Meter, who recorded sixteen hours of conversations with Weiner while writing the piece, told the Washington Post's Erik Wemple he didn't ask Weiner about the sexting because he thought it was no longer an issue. "Never even occurred to me to ask! I just assumed it had stopped when he got caught, lost his job and started therapy to save his marriage," Van Meter told Wemple.

Wemple rubbed in the oversight a bit: "Had he pushed the politico on just when he gave up his lewd relationships with other women on the Internet, Van Meter’s recorder would have scored some precious words from Weiner. Or perhaps even a prolonged period of silence."

Well, maybe. Van Meter may not have asked Weiner about when his dalliances stopped, but others did — notably NY1's Errol Louis, who had the first post-scandal TV interview with Weiner. And the soon-to-be candidate was not having it, as Daily Intelligencer observed at the time: "Rather than giving a simple 'no comment,' Weiner delivered a lengthy rehearsed speech on why he wouldn't be getting into the details of his sexting 'out of some respect for the privacy of the people who were at the other end of these correspondences, who had their lives turned upside down.' "

Weiner has taken a similarly exasperated tone with anyone who asks him about his sexy chats, both before and after admitting there were more of them, so presumably he'd have had something quote-worthy to say had Van Meter put the question to him, even if it was a canned response. At the time, Van Meter couldn't have known what he was touching on, but you'd think in sixteen hours of conversations the topic might have come up.