Clinton aide, vice chairwoman of the candidate's campaign, and former State Department staffer Huma Abedin hasn't been far from the news lately. The latest Abedin-centric headlines took a decidedly more personal tone when Abedin announced her separation from her husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner. While news of two political powerhouses of Abedin and (to a lesser extent) Weiner's caliber is undoubtedly national news, these eight headlines suggest Abedin is somehow at fault for Weiner's latest sexting scandal and it's the completely wrong approach. Abedin is in no way responsible for her husband's actions. In fact, she's likely the one most hurt by them and no one should question why she's deciding to leave Weiner at this point in time, or even why she didn't leave him at a different time.
News of Weiner's third sexting scandal broke in what has become a predictable pattern for the ex-congressman, but with a twist: after sending an unidentified woman a message saying "someone just climbed into my bed," Weiner sent a photo of himself in his boxers (as he did in 2011) with his and Abedin's son laying next to him, asleep. Predictably, people were totally grossed out, but much of that disgust was directed at Abedin, especially after she announced she is leaving Weiner. The implied message: that by staying in her publicly troubled marriage, Abedin was somehow at fault for her husband's infidelity.
Below are eight headlines that show that Weiner's sexting isn't the only gross thing going on in this scandal.
This lovely headline from the conservative Washington Times not only completely belittles a story that is only tangentially related to Hillary Clinton, but also (falsely) makes an unavoidable personal matter an issue of public concern. This headline and the ensuing article are not only disingenuous — they're also basically taking the words from Donald Trump's mouth.
The Abedin-as-liability line of reasoning isn't just coming from self-described conservative sites — the Los Angeles Times also employed this false equivalency to twist Abedin and Weiner's public separation into tidings of ill fate for Clinton. Is public scrutiny into the personal life of a close aide good for the Clinton campaign? Of course not. But it's not as big of a "liability" as any of the writers of these headlines would have you believe. It also ignores the fact that Trump has been linked to much more unsavory (or rather, appalling) public figures.
While the tone of the previous two headlines read as finger-wagging in the direction of Clinton, the tone of this Washington Post headline is more sighing resignation. Abedin is yet again in the spotlight for her oh-so-scandalous life, because she was forced to publicly sever ties with someone who is her spouse and the father of her child after he embarrassed himself (and her, for good measure).
At first glance, this People headline might seem to communicate a sense of sympathy or a desire to understand why Abedin, like so many other women, stayed with her cheating partner. Upon further inspection, however, it proves to be more of the same tired misogynistic finger-pointing — that she is at fault for remaining with her husband after he'd already done this twice before, and that the story is more about her staying with him all these years despite his repeated cheating than about, you know, the fact that the man can't seem to be stop himself from sexting. Maybe it's just me, but it's pretty clear that the latter is way worse and way more worthy of investigation.
These four headlines, from The Wrap, the New York Daily News, the Daily Mail and Jezebel (respectively) might all have somewhat different wording, but they all say exactly the same thing, down to the use of the word "finally". "FINALLY", these writers are shouting, she's finally leaving that bastard.
I agree that it rules that Abedin is leaving her good-for-nothing gross husband, but to include the "finally" almost-explicitly shifts the blame from Weiner for once again putting his wife and now his young child through public hell to Abedin, the party that is clearly the most hurt in this situation.
Yes, it can be a relief when someone leaves their unsavory partner. But to throw the "finally" into the headline signals that Abedin should still feel shame for putting up with Weiner's behavior, despite the fact that nobody knows what went on behind the scenes of their marriage.
The coverage of this sexting-separation scandal should put the blame where it belongs: on Weiner, whose main job was to support Abedin while she helps elect a president (which he's clearly failed spectacularly at), and who once again embarrassed himself and his family by being unable to refrain from sending women photos of his boxer briefs.
Images: Washington Times; Los Angeles Times; Washington Post; People; The Wrap; New York Daily News; Daily Mail; Jezebel