This thought has probably not occurred to beleaguered New York congressman Anthony Weiner, but he’s lucky that this Twitter scandal is making headlines during a week when most of the nation’s late-night comics are taking a break.
Not that he’s escaped unscathed. The few funnymen who are at work this week – mainly Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson – have been unceasing in their abuse. But can you imagine what it might have been like if Jay, Dave, Jimmy Fallon, Conan and George Lopez were all weighing in also?
Of course, they’ll all make hay of this Weiner story when they return, at least in the beginning of the week, even if the story cools off by then (which didn’t seem likely on Friday). One can only imagine what it must be like to be a public figure in a scandal and then have to endure merciless and endless late-night jokes.
Let’s face it: For the late-night hosts, this story is irresistible, as Jimmy Kimmel explained Thursday on his special “Game Night” edition of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (aired in conjunction with the NBA Finals on ABC): “When a politician whose name is Weiner potentially tweets a picture of his wiener, for a late-night talk show it’s almost too much for us to handle. We actually had a small explosion in the writer’s room today!”
Kimmel then introduced this bit, in which his show’s writers “outsourced” their Weiner-joke writing to an office in India.
Meanwhile, over on CBS, Craig Ferguson has been working mentions of the Weiner scandal – which, in case you’ve been on Mars the last few days, involves allegations that Weiner tweeted a lewd photo of himself to a 21-year-old woman – into his monologues on his “Late Late Show.” Ferguson, of course, delivers the most unique monologues in late-night.
Unlike all the rest, Ferguson’s monologues are not collections of jokes strung together. They’re more like stream-of-consciousness rants. For example, in his Thursday monologue, he was going on and on about how politicians in Washington waste their time devising new food-group charts to encourage Americans to adopt healthy diets when they should be concentrating on solving our economic problems.
Here’s how Ferguson worked in a line about Weiner: “Are you telling me that politicians are so bored they got nothing better to do than tell me what to eat . . . and tweet pictures of their God-[deleted] penises?!”
Of course, the cable news commentators have been all over this Weiner story – which has been alternately nicknamed “Weiner-gate” or “Twitter-gate.” On Fox News Channel, Bill O’Reilly adopted the latter moniker when he called for an FBI investigation of Weiner’s claims that someone hacked into his personal Twitter account.
In a Wednesday “Talking Points Memo” on “The O’Reilly Factor” that you can watch here, O’Reilly declared that nothing less than the security of the United States is at stake. “The FBI should be involved,” O’Reilly said, “because national security is involved! It’s clear from the Wikileaks controversy that some bad people have compromised U.S. national security by hacking into government Web sites!”
In response, O’Reilly’s rival over on MSNBC – Lawrence O’Donnell – admonished O’Reilly on MSNBC’s “Last Word” on Thursday. According to this account on HuffingtonPost.com, O’Donnell brought up the scandal that enveloped O’Reilly in 2004 when it was revealed O’Reilly was being sued for sexual harassment, and the lawsuit documents contained lurid details. “You really don’t want to tread into this territory,” O’Donnell said. Perhaps the liberal O’Donnell felt obligated to respond to O’Reilly because O’Reilly had accused members of the “left-wing” media of going easy on Weiner, who is a democrat.
Of course, the most active commentators on the scandal this week have been Comedy Central’s Stewart and Colbert. On “The Daily Show,” Stewart had one segment titled “Anthony and Cleopenis.” In another graphic seen on Thursday’s show, the show’s customary “Indecision 2011” logo was changed to “Circumcision 2011.” And the Weiner scandal was a big part of Stewart’s monologue on Thursday.
And Thursday’s “Colbert Report” also revisited the Weiner story for the umpteenth time this week. “Folks, as much as I want to talk about the debt ceiling,” Colbert said in his monologue, “do you know who wants to talk about the debt ceiling even more? New York congressman Anthony Weiner!”
With all the other late-night comics back at work next week, Anthony Weiner should brace himself for more – much more.