Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Fonz On Weinergate

The actor who epitomized cool in the 1970s as The Fonz on TV's "Happy Days" - Henry Winkler - likes to remind his 81,000+ followers on Twitter that he is the only actor to ever "jump the shark" twice.

In his book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weird Word Origins," Paul McFedries explains, "If a television show jumps the shark, it means that the show has included an over-the-top scene or plot twist that's idicative either of an irreversible decline in the show's quality or of a desperate bid to stem the show's declining ratings. The phrase refers to an episode of the Happy Days TV show in which the previously cool character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli water-skis (while still wearing his trademark leather jacket) up a ramp and over a tank containing a shark."

The second time Henry Winkler "jumped a shark" was on the critically acclaimed TV series "Arrested Development" just a few years ago:

"Arrested Development" ended up being canceled but most fans would argue there was never any "irreversible decline in the show's quality" and still await and hope for an on-again/off-again film version.

On the other hand, after the weirdness that transpired over Twitter on May 27, no one could possibly argue that former New York Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner didn't subsequently experience an "irreversible decline", and, oddly enough, the Fonz had a cameo role in the real life Weinergate movie, which has been overlooked by the media and most blogs.

The iOwnTheWorld blog noted, "Henry Winkler was unfortunate to have been very impressed with Weiner on that fateful night. Weiner retweeted Fonzi’s tweet moments before his direct message screw up. Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy."

"@RepWeiner tonight and all time u are so articulate ... Have a peaceful weekend," Winkler wrote Weiner on May 27.

To which, Congressman Weiner responded, "Wow, what an honor. Thanks."

According to Twitter timelines, Winkler's 8:03 PM tweet was responding to Rep. Weiner's tweet at 4:56 PM about his May 27 appearance on Maddow and not the more notorious second tweet at 7:58 PM which contained the hashmark message "Thats545InSeattleIThink" and which was retweeted by college student Gennette Nicole Cordova.

Less than three-and-a-half hours later - at around 11:30 PM on May 27 - Rep Weiner sent the underwear tweet to Cordova, deleted within seconds but not before it was retweeted by patriotusa76 aka Dan Wolfe. Not so widely reported, Dana Loesch, Editor-In-Chief for Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, tweeted to Wolfe, "I have screenshots of all of it. Just ... so ... weird."

A liberal twitterer named Kristina Klausser - @kklausser - also took pictures that were posted at Daily Kos, Gawker and, possibly, Breitbart's sites, too.

(More on Klausser below:)

On Sunday, I retweeted Winkler's May 27 tweet to Weiner, and then tweeted, "Why did @hwinkler4real happen to tweet @RepWeiner - seemingly out of the blue - on 5/27; oddly a few hours before AW 'jump the shark' tweet?"

To my surprise, Winkler responded, "@ronbryn that was so odd even to me watch him on the news thought his passion was what we needed: little did i know."

I asked Winkler a few more questions but he didn't respond. Perhaps, someone else in the media (or @ScottBaio or @RealRonHoward) will follow up:

One of my questions referred to a May 10, 2010 interview on "The Joy Behar Show" when Winkler claimed someone named David who "may be in the leadership of the Democratic Party in New York state" told him that while Democrats "sell hope", Republicans "sell fear" (I wrongly tweeted to Winkler that the Behar interview was a week before the tweet to Weiner).

Gauging from Behar's knowing response, it was most probably a reference to former New York Governor David Paterson, which would have no bearing on Weinergate.

The "Hot Air Pundit" blog observed, "Here's one of the reasons I knew he was gonna say something about politics, before the election in 2008, Richie Cunningham, the Fonz and Andy Griffith cut a video for funnyordie endorsing Barack Obama."

On July 1, Nick Zaino at AOL's TV Replay, blogged, "Would Fonzie have tweeted? Probably not. He had that magic finger snap that would bring people to him no matter where they were. Henry Winkler, however, loves Tweeting."

On Friday's edition of 'The Talk' (weekdays, syndicated on CBS), Winkler talked about tweet-initiating a group hug and following 'Letterman' writers Eric and Justin Stengel as they made fun of Charlie Sheen at one of Sheen's live shows.

The virtual group hug happened when Winkler was driving to New York at 2:30 in the morning and couldn't sleep. He said it got a great response from all over the world, and he was amazed at the sense of connectedness it fostered. "It was very touching to me," said Winkler.

The Twitterer who happened to search for Weiner at exactly the right moment

Along with Rep Weiner, Klausser had online interactions with at least three of his followers: Gennette Cordova, Ginger Lee and fake teenager Nikki Reid aka @starchild111. Klausser followed Cordova and starchild111 on Twitter and linked to some of Ginger Lee's posts at her Tumblr account.

Klausser happened to search @RepWeiner's name at precisely the right moment on May 27 to catch the tweet before it was deleted. But while Wolfe has become a pariah, Klausser has escaped all media scrutiny.

"Oh wow...haha. Not sure how I got so involved here, I just saw things as they happened Friday night and it doesn't seem many people did," Klausser wrote at Gawker.

Some of Klausser's other noteworthy comments at Gawker:

"I actually happened to follow her on twitter and she tweeted often about liking Congressman Weiner but so have I (and so do lots of college aged women)"

"These are the past tweets about the scandal that was coming and how he hoped it was Weiner. Just went back through this guy's tweets and things seem weirder and weirder (the woman in question is mentioned by name in this guy's tweets from weeks ago) These are just a few screenshoots, there are tons more tweets like them."

"It didn't actually occur to me last night that there was any reason to screencap anything...I just went back into my replies on twitter and that same guy (the one who was alerting people to the picture) had replied to me last night and that is gone as well. I would never have seen the picture but I searched "anthony weiner" because I was looking for a link I had seen earlier (an article in which Meghan McCain says Weiner is her favorite Dem because of his hot wife actually) and saw his tweet about it. From what I've seen it was tweeted just a few minutes before his tweets about his tivo."

"Well she deleted her account at some point last night. I saw a tweet from a twitter user who, for the next few hours after that, was tweeting constantly to various media outlets/journalists with Weiner's twitter handle, the woman's twitter handle, and a link to the picture. The woman didn't tweet back right away but when she did she tweeted something like "What the hell are you talking about?" then something like "I've never seen that picture," etc. Like I said, there was one twitter user in particular who was tweeting constantly last night about it and including her handle in all of the tweets."

"Oddly enough, the guy who was tweeting it like crazy last night had been saying (for a while) on twitter that some major right wing blog had dirt on a Democrat from the northeast having an affair with a teenage girl and he was speculating that it was Weiner."

"I went back in that guy's timeline and it looks like he deleted all of the tweets he sent to media. As far as I could tell last night, the first journalist (who works for Breitbart's co) to tweet him back was Dana Loesch."

"I saw the picture when he tweeted it last night. The whole thing was very odd but to be fair, he does seem to struggle with how twitter works pretty regularly...It seems to me that he accidentally uploaded the picture but what do I know.
The girl who the picture was sent to seem surprised and weirded out. I was following it as it happened and immediately there were lots of people tweeting her (1 person in particular was tweeting literally every 30 seconds with her handle in the tweets). Also, if calling Weiner "her boyfriend" on twitter means they're having an affair, I'm in a world of trouble with a lot of people."

"@ronbryn Technically, if she followed both of us, she wouldn't have had to search his name. It would be in her timeline," GNCordova tweeted to me on August 17.

After I tweeted the link to Klausser's comment at Gawker to Cordova - "Your follower's own words @KKlausser: I would never have seen the picture but I searched 'anthony weiner'" - the Seattleite responded, "hmmm, didn't know that."

Ms. Klausser took a screenshot of the wonderful day that Rep. Weiner retweeted one of her tweets and put it on her blog…strangely…after Weinergate…that Rep Weiner retweet somehow vanished, but nobody noticed.

You can see proof RepWeiner retweeted KKlausser on March 17 here:

Klausser has ducked all my questions and instead has attacked me publicly on Twitter for "blocking" her. I've blocked hundreds of Twitter accounts since I was targeted by hackers who have menaced me since late June when I revealed that I worked on The New York Times article "Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner" with reporter Jennifer Preston.

The blockings are to defend myself from being hacked, nothing more.

To be continued...

See this blog post for more information on what might have really happened on May 27: "Maggie Henningg with two g's and Shamus Clancy" or "How someone may have cloned the Twitter account of a teenage girl to hack fake DMs with Weiner."