Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Soul-searching Weiner seeks forgiveness

By Howard Kurtz, CNN
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Thu April 11, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Howard Kurtz: NYT article shows Anthony Weiner positioning for comeback
  • But piece is more: A raw catharsis for Weiner and wife, Huma Abedin, over his downfall
  • He says his recounting confession to wife includes intense soul-searching
  • Kurtz: It seems Weiner wants more than political viability; he wants forgiveness

Editor's note: Howard Kurtz is the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and is Newsweek's Washington bureau chief. He is also a contributor to the website Daily Download.

(CNN) -- In his anguished, rambling and excruciatingly candid therapy session with The New York Times Magazine this week, Anthony Weiner was nominally engaged in damage control to clear the way for a political comeback.

But it was so much more -- it was a catharsis, for the former congressman and his wife Huma Abedin, that was both hard to read and impossible to put down.

On some fundamental level, he had a need to tell the story -- the entire story -- of what an "idiot" he had been to send pictures of his private parts to random women, which cost him his job and came close to costing him his marriage.

Howard Kurtz
Howard Kurtz

WATCH: NBC's Chelsea Clinton talks up her political future on ... NBC

Weiner could have gone the standard route of sitting down for a television interview, Huma holding his hand, and tearing up at the right moment as he described how truly sorry he was for his bad behavior. Having checked that box, he could have run for New York mayor or some lesser office.

Weiner considering mayoral bid

But he chose to, well, expose himself more fully. As Weiner recounted his original Twitter deception to writer Jonathan Van Meter:

"It reached this point where I just sat down with Huma and said, 'Listen, I can't. ... I don't want to lie.' ... I just didn't want to lie anymore to her."

Here, his voice cracks and tears well up in his eyes.

Opinion: Zombie politicians find new life after disgrace

"I have a choppy memory of it, but she was devastated. She immediately said, 'Well you've got to stop lying to everyone else too.' And basically we drove back to the city, and she said: 'You've just got to tell everyone the truth. Telling me doesn't help any.'

"It was brutal. It was completely out of control. There was the crime, there was the cover-up, there was harm I had done to her. And there's no one who deserved this less than Huma. That's really the bottom line. No one deserved to have a dope like me do that less than she did."

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



WATCH: How did Anthony Weiner handle his newspaper therapy session?

But it wasn't just a colorful tick-tock. Weiner engaged in such deep soul-searching -- even suggesting a troubled relationship with his father -- that at one point Van Meter told him that perhaps they should stop for now. Here, for instance, is Weiner describing his motivation in texting and tweeting these women:

"And there just wasn't much of me who was smart enough, sensitive enough, in touch with my own things, understanding enough about the disrespect and how dishonorable it was to be doing that. It didn't seem to occupy a real space in my feelings. ... I wasn't really thinking. What does this mean that I'm doing this? Is this risky behavior? Is this smart behavior? To me, it was just another way to feed this notion that I want to be liked and admired."

2011: Weiner resigns from Congress
2011: Breitbart talked Weiner scandal

WATCH: Mother Jones gets tape of McConnell's Ashley Judd-bashing session

Several subplots also emerged in this melodrama.

Abedin worked for Hillary Clinton, who was famously wronged by her man and who helped support her friend Huma during the ordeal.

Jon Stewart, a longtime friend of the New York Democrat, said he would have faced comedy "impeachment" had he not joked about Weinergate, but also recalls telling him: "As low as you are, please understand that what's happening to you right now isn't really happening to you, it's happening to whatever caricature we've all created of you."

The political press will judge the article based on whether Weiner can convince voters that he should be given, as he put it, a "second chance." And why shouldn't they?

While Weiner made a terrible mistake in initially lying about what happened, his is a sex scandal that involved no actual sex. If Mark Sanford, who snuck off to his Argentinian lover, can win the GOP nomination for his old House seat in South Carolina and if Bill Clinton can be a revered elder statesman, is Weiner beyond redemption?

WATCH: Shocker -- half of Justin Bieber's Twitter followers are fake!

But it seems to me that Weiner, in putting himself and his intensely private wife through this grueling process, wants more than political viability. He is seeking forgiveness.

"A big part of himself wants to cleanse himself of this scandal," Van Meter told CNN's Jake Tapper.

The reporter was well aware that Weiner was using him and the Times to salvage his political career. But Van Meter nonetheless produced a remarkable piece of journalism. Can the movie version be far behind?

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Howard Kurtz

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:27 PM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
updated 11:17 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Today's politicians should follow Ronald Reagan's advice and invest in science, research and development, Fareed Zakaria says.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
updated 10:05 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Historian Douglas Brinkley says a showing of Sony's film in Austin helped keep the city weird -- and spotlighted the heroes who stood up for free expression
updated 8:03 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Tanya Odom that by calling only on women at his press conference, the President made clear why women and people of color should be more visible in boardrooms and conferences
updated 8:12 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
When oil spills happen, researchers are faced with the difficult choice of whether to use chemical dispersants, authors say
updated 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT