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BuzzFeed makes case for Anthony Weiner as most consequential politician of 2010s

BuzzFeed makes case for Anthony Weiner as most consequential politician of 2010s
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BuzzFeed is making the case that former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is the "most consequential politician" of the last decade.

The story by BuzzFeed politics editor Matt Berman argues that Weiner "changed the course of American history," largely with the sex scandal centered on inappropriate pictures he sent to women.

He links Weiner to the rise of right-wing media and President TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE's election, noting that former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyJuan Williams: The real 'Deep State' is pro-Trump Comey: Biden should consider pardoning Trump Comey: 'Greatest punishment' for Trump after Capitol riot is to 'move past' his presidency MORE's announcement the bureau was looking at Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Clinton says it meant 'great deal' to hold inauguration weeks after riot MORE's emails again, just days before the election, was a factor in Trump's victory.

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Comey sent the letter because the FBI had found emails forwarded by Clinton aide Huma Abedin on Weiner's computer. The FBI was investigating Weiner over his contacts with a minor.

Berman noted that FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver has written of the significance of the Comey letter, saying it “upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College.”

It's unclear if the Comey email, triggered by the Weiner investigation, cost the Democrat the election. But Clinton believes she would have won were it not for that.

Berman argues there is more to Weiner's importance as a politician in the last decade than the 2016 episode, even if that may be the most significant.

His work in Congress caused Weiner to “go viral online” with his floor speeches, something that became a model for other members of Congress in the last decade, Berman writes. 

After images of Weiner's genitals appeared on his Twitter account, Andrew Breitbart and his website BigGovernment amplified the picture on the internet. The story led to Weiner's resignation from Congress, and in Berman's telling helped propel conservative media empires such as Breitbart News.

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Berman argues that Weiner's failure in the New York City mayoral race of 2013 helped lead to the rise of current New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioOvernight Health Care: Biden signs first executive actions as president | Amazon offers to help Biden with vaccine distribution | Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues Was 2020 a turning point for identity politics? MORE, who won the race and then won reelection in 2017. De Blasio also ran for president this year.

Weiner's campaign collapsed after another sexting scandal, and Berman argues this changed the trajectory of the race and New York's recent history.

Berman concludes his piece by wring that Weiner's influence "is stamped all over the 2010s."

"He helped create social media politics, fully embraced it, and was quickly swallowed by it," he writes. "He rose on YouTube and crashed on Twitter. He was the protagonist of American politics’ first sexting scandal and helped elevate Andrew Breitbart and nontraditional journalism in the process."

Weiner's comeback attempt, running for New York City mayor, "wound up leading to a leftist mayor of New York. "

And that was before his influence in the 2016 campaign.

"Through an inexplicable inability to control his online impulses, he further entangled Hillary Clinton in her email investigations at exactly the wrong time and altered the 2016 election," Berman writes.