Of the many unflattering anecdotes the New York Times dug up to illustrate Anthony Weiner’s publicity hounding, poor manners, and lackluster job performance, perhaps the most memorable is the one about the salad. “In 2005, he became so irritated with a staff member that he threw a salad against the wall, then left the room as the dressing slowly dripped, leaving a stain.” On Thursday, BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer caught up with the former congressman to hear his response to the Times’ takedown. The salad thing must have really gotten to Weiner because he sure had a lot to say about it. It’s a three-pronged defense, moving from denial to redemption.
He’s not sure this thing ever happened:
“I was talking to Josh about the salad in the car,” he said, on his way out of Harlem’s state office building on 125th Street, referring to a friend and former body man who worked on the 2005 campaign. “The salad story’s apocryphal.”
The evidence is circumstantial:
“The way Josh tells it — and he was on the campaign at the time — is the door opened and there was a salad on the wall,” he said. “First of all, I don’t do salad. That’s the other thing about the story. I don’t do salads.”
Besides, he’s changed his ways:
“Look, I’m impatient for change, and I fight hard for the middle class and those struggling to make it, and I make no apology about that,” Weiner said. “I mean, I’m a much mellower person than I was when the salad did or did not wind up on the wall.”
There’s a lot going on with this little anecdote and Weiner’s defense, including a new way to make gross puns in a Weiner story. The Times didn’t directly attribute the anecdote, so Weiner can’t do whatever the PR equivalent of cross-examination is. But the weirdest thing is that second statement he made to BuzzFeed, that there was just a salad on the wall. Who knows where it came from and who can remember at this point? Maybe, as the Times suggests, Weiner’s office is a tense place to work. But maybe, just maybe, it’s a non-stop, Animal House-style rager. Of course, John Belushi would probably never have done salad either.