Within seconds of Anthony Weiner’s hastily assembled press conference on Tuesday, it became obvious that the only thing saving his sideshow of a mayoral bid was the inexplicable support of his wife, Huma Abedin, who stood by his side, yet again, following revelations that he had exchanged explicit text messages with another young female admirer.
For media professionals covering the conference, the headlines wrote themselves. Abedin is “Standing By Her Man,” says Slate. She's Weiner’s “Good Wife,” notes ABC News. She's “Putting herself out there at a cost,” proclaims USA Today.
On Tuesday, the gossip website The Dirty reported on newly discovered explicit online messages Weiner exchanged with an unidentified woman. The woman claimed the messages took place after Weiner’s June 2011 resignation from Congress. At the press conference, Abedin said she still loves and believes in her husband.
Indeed, the 36-year-old Abedin is fast emerging as the unlikely hero in the bizarre (even for New York City politics) narrative of Weiner’s scandal-soaked campaign. Journalists and social media users are rallying around Abedin, offering an anomalous mix of sympathy, admiration and head-scratching bewilderment. (“Why does Huma Abedin put up with Weiner?” wondered CNN’s Pepper Schwartz.)
Some of the Huma-centric headlines resembled outright cheerleading. (“Two cheers for the beleaguered Huma Abedin,” wrote the Washington Post’s Sheila Weller.) Others were more service oriented. (The Christian Science Monitor ran an Associated Press think piece titled, “Anthony Weiner: Why his wife stands by him.”) Even the New York Post was uncharacteristically sympathetic, referring to the “pained” Abedin who joined her “horndog husband,” although the same piece quotes a political media strategist who suggests that Abedin is standing by Weiner for political gain.
The well-wishes for Abedin continued across social media, where Twitter users expressed various manners of sentiment:
I'd like to congratulate Huma Abedin on her first day of never losing an argument in her marriage again, ever.
â€” Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) July 24, 2013
Is there a way I can vote for Huma Abedin?
â€” ɯooɹפ ɔıɹƎ (@ecgroom) July 24, 2013
Does Anthony Weiner's wife understand she can get a divorce?
â€” Billy Anneken (@banneken) July 24, 2013
I think Weiner is a weenie. Sorry wife of his but why put up with him?
â€” mary (@blabbermary) July 24, 2013
And then there were the inevitable comparisons to Hillary Clinton, for whom Abedin works as an adviser.
The way Huma Abedin is standing by Anthony Weiner is a page right out of her mentor Hillary Clinton's playbook. Deja vu all over again.
â€” Maxine Kenneth Fan (@Maxine_K_Fan) July 24, 2013
â€” Kelly Stahlman (@TXKellBel) July 24, 2013
As for Abedin herself, she's by no means staying silent through the ordeal. Harper’s Bazar magazine is publishing an exclusive first-person essay in which Abedin answers the question, “So why am I doing this?”
“New Yorkers will have to decide for themselves whether or not to give him a second chance. I had to make that same decision for myself, for my son, for our family. And I know in my heart that I made the right one.”
A preview of Abedin’s article, which will be published in full on Aug. 20, is already available on the magazine’s website under the title “The Good Wife.” It kind of writes itself. Got a news tip? Send me an email. Follow me on Twitter: @christopherzara