Hoping to put a scandal over a lewd photo to rest, Rep. Anthony Weiner said Wednesday evening that although he did not recognize the photo, he could not be sure whether it was a picture of himself.
The New York Democrat capped off a day of interviews by appearing on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.” When Maddow asked whether he is shown in the picture, he said, “Am I allowed to say, ‘I wish?’”
The photograph of underwear-clad male genitalia was posted on Weiner’s Twitter account Friday, touching off one of the more bizarre scandals in recent Congressional history.
Although Weiner appeared to dodge questions in previous interviews about whether he is the subject of the photo, he provided his fullest answer to Maddow. “We don’t know for sure. The photo doesn’t look familiar to me,” he said. “I don’t want to say with certitude that it maybe didn’t start out as a photograph of mine and now looks different. ... I just don’t know.”
When asked whether the picture could be a private photo that had been inadvertently released or illicitly obtained, Weiner said, “It could be, or it could have been a photograph that’s taken out of context or manipulated or changed in some way.”
He rejected theories that he was behind the posting and said it was simply a prank. “The simple fact is that what this appears to be is probably what it is,” he said. “Someone making fun of my name, someone trying to cause trouble for me, maybe poke fun at me. You know, when your name is Weiner and someone posts a picture like that, the most obvious conclusion is that someone is pranking me and punking me. And I get that.”
But Weiner also raised concerns with the scope of the scandal. “I’m kind of concerned how far and wide this conspiracy theory has run,” he said, adding that some of his Twitter followers have now found themselves in the public spotlight.