Sex and Lies: Why Weiner Had To Resign

Even Anthony Weiner’s resignation prompted media scrutiny: Did he have to resign? After all, he hadn’t broken a law. And polls showed that most of his constituents wanted him to continue to represent them.

It seemed like another case of hype: the media discovered a salacious scandal, played it up as the most important story in the country (see chart below), and forced prominent Dems like Nancy Pelosi and President Obama to call for Weiner’s resignation so they didn’t look like they were soft on unethical behavior.

But sexting isn’t what brought Weiner down. Lying and blaming: the public has a harder time forgiving those misdeeds. When voters discovered the truth behind Bill Clinton’s infamous denial – “I did not have sex with that woman” – they lost faith.

However, on some level, people relate to lies. We’ve all done something we’re not proud of and then lied about it – maybe not something as incredibly stupid as sexting to strangers while in public office, but we understand his motivation.

Still, the lie compounded Weiner’s character flaw. Then he took the next step: blaming someone else, a nameless hacker.

He should have realized his behavior would be found out – easily, in fact. Adding another level to the lie shows lack of responsibility for his actions and possibly an inability to control those actions. Compulsive behavior could affect the important job he was elected to do. That’s why he had to quit public office, at least for now.

Percentage of weekly newshole spent on stories the week of June 6-12, as calculated by the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism