Skip to main content

Will 'sexters' in the city give Weiner a pass?

By Roxanne Jones, Special to CNN
updated 5:23 PM EDT, Thu July 25, 2013
Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, to address explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, to address explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website.
HIDE CAPTION
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roxanne Jones: Don't count out "Carlos Danger" yet; Weiner should still run for mayor
  • Calls for him to quit may not take into account Americans' growing tendency to "sext," she says
  • She says if Spitzer can run with his sex scandal, why not Weiner? Voters should decide
  • Jones: Maybe it's time to accept that flawed people can still govern productively

Editor's note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN the Magazine and former vice president at ESPN. She is the CEO of the Push Marketing Group. Jones is an award-winning editor, reporter, writer and producer who has also worked at the New York Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She is co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete." Watch her tonight on CNN at 7 pm on "Erin Burnett OutFront."

(CNN) -- Don't count Carlos Danger out of the New York mayoral race just yet. He's still a contender.

That's Anthony Weiner, for anyone who slept through the news that more X-rated photos and text messages apparently sent (under that nom de plume) by Weiner to a then-22-year-old woman have surfaced.

The raunchy messages were reportedly sent via the social media website Formspring in August 2012, nearly a year after Weiner resigned from Congress after his first sex scandal. But this time around, Weiner is smarter. Instead of denials, Weiner has admitted communicating with the young woman and asked for forgiveness, again.

Roxanne Jones
Roxanne Jones

"I want to bring my vision to the people of the city of New York. I hope they are willing to still continue to give me a second chance," Weiner said in his news conference Tuesday with his wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime Hillary Clinton adviser, standing by his side.

I say Weiner should stay in the race and let the voters decide his fate.

Opinion: The public humiliation of Huma Abedin

And it looks like he's planning to do just that. He's resisting all calls to step down and has promised, once again, to stop sexting. Just 10 days ago, polls showed him narrowly leading the race for the Democratic nomination over City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, according to USA Today.

Weiner won't quit
Weiner: Voters not interested in my past
Who is Huma Abedin?
Leno, O'Brien jab at Anthony Weiner

Everyone loves to chime in on a scandal. And while numerous people and publications, including the New York Times editorial board, profess outrage over latest Weiner's moral lapses -- and others are labeling him a sexual predator and demanding that he drop out -- it may be time for Americans to fess up.

Anthony Weiner may be in the headlines today, but many American adults are using social networking to spice up their sex lives.

Weiner's messages are raunchy. They read more like an erotica novel by the hugely successful author Zane. And one of the reasons voters may just grant Weiner the forgiveness he's asking for is because many of us can relate.

Sexting between adults, both married and single, is on the rise. Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. says they use their smartphone for sexting, sharing explicit photos or text messages with others, says Lookout Mobile Security, which sponsored the Harris Interactive poll of 2,097 adults.

The biggest age groups for sexting are 18- to 34-year-old men (32%) and 35- to 44-year-old women (25%). Even baby boomers are getting into the action, with one in 10 people age 55 and older sexting. All those parents who are admonishing their children about the dangers of sexting? Well, they speak from experience: The Harris survey found that 30% of parents with children under the age of 18 have also sexted.

Like it or not, we have become a sexting nation, which may explain why some voters are willing to forgive politicians caught up in sex scandals and give them a second and even a third chance.

If Eliot Spitzer, who resigned as New York governor in 2008 after a scandal involving prostitutes, can rehab his political career enough to compete for New York City comptroller in this election, then it stands to reason that Weiner, with all his faults, still has the right to have voters decide whether he's fit enough to become the city's next mayor.

"New Yorkers have a forgiving attitude. If this was in another state, Weiner might not make it, but here, he has a chance," said Vincent Hurst, an educator in New York. For Hurst, who says Weiner won't get his vote, it's all about his politics.

"I probably won't vote for him -- or Eliot Spitzer, either. Weiner wants to cut 1,400 parent coordinator positions from the Department of Education. That's a disgrace," Hurst said.

Like many voters, Hurst is concerned that the Weiner story will take away from the critical issues facing voters in the coming election.

Opinion: Hey Weiner, New York doesn't like to look stupid

"I'm almost betting that another allegation will come up. This is a very important election. The new mayor will likely reform the Department of Education and other important city agencies. We need to focus on those issues, not his sex life."

Whether it's Weiner, Spitzer or one of the city's favorite sons, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the political sex scandal has become a familiar story at every level of American politics. And after the headlines fade, it almost seems a non-issue at the polls. Voters today are more likely to forgive and even re-elect the candidate unless the scandal involved gross corruption or misuse of public funds, such as when Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was forced to leave office.

Maybe the time has come to accept that American politicians are flawed, but that doesn't necessarily exclude them from a productive political career. These stories will not go away, not with the incredible access technology gives us into personal lives of our neighbors around the globe.

"American attitudes are changing about sex because of evolving sexual norms and modernization," said Alison Dagnes, associate professor of political science at Shippensburg University. "We are a forgiving nation and will forgive the sinner if he is truly apologetic. If a politician can make the case that sexual impropriety is a personal matter, the public will likely give him a pass."

"But the timing is a problem for Weiner," said Dagnes, also the editor of "Sex Scandals in American Politics: A Multidisciplinary Approach." "How many times is he going to apologize to the public?"

Opinion: Why Weiner's problem is ours, too

We don't know what type of relationship Weiner has with his wife, but Abedin is standing by her husband for now. That's her choice. New York voters will also have an important choice about Weiner and Spitzer and whether we hold our politicians to a higher moral responsibility than we hold ourselves.

The decision is ours.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roxanne Jones.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016.
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT