Ali Velshi Caught with His Pants Down

Tries to cover Weiner with whole cloth–unsuccessfully. Tuesday American Morning co-anchor Ali Velshi futilely tried to discount his own network CNN correspondent Dana Bash’s expose of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. Unfortunately for Ali, he (and his AM co-host Kiran Chetry) forgot to watch Bash’s report carefully and missed her “screen save” of the Congressman’s Twitter account. Otherwise, he might not have chanced his specious spin.

Shortly, after mid-show Tuesday, American Morning co-host Christine Romans introduced Bash’s three-minute story, chyroned, “Exclusive Rep. Weiner: ‘This is a prank’: Claims hacker sent lewd photo from his Twitter account.” In her account, Bash reported that a “lewd picture (immediately deleted)” had been sent to the “twenty-one year old Seattle student Gennette Cardova “from Congressman Anthony Weiner’s account” over the weekend; that the college student admitted that Weiner followed her but insisted she had never met him nor had she had “any inappropriate exchanges” with him; that Weiner was still using the same Twitter account that he had said had been hacked; and  that “spokemen for both the F.B.I. and the Capitol Police said that they are not yet investigating the hacking of a Congressman’s Twitter account.”

Immediately, after Bash concluded her report, Ali went on the offensive for Weiner. Turning to his co-hosts Kiran Chetry and Christine Romans, Ali shook his finger, declaring, “And, one point to make is [that] while the, the story says that he…was following this, this college student, Anthony Weiner seems to follow everybody who follows him.”

As Christine stayed wisely silent, Kiran less sagely came quickly to Ali’s aid, responding, “Right. A lot of people do that.” Bolstered by her agreement, Aly echoed, “A lot of people do that! Anybody who follows them, you [sic] follow them back.” Shaking her head sanguinely, Kiran again concurred, “That’s right. So, that’s an important indica[tion].”

Digging himself in yet deeper unawares, Aly added, “Yeah. It is a, it’s a distinction because I was thinking to myself, ‘Why is Anthony Weiner following this college girl?’ ‘Cause she follows him. It’s kinda how it goes on Twitter.” As Christine arched her head with apparent skepticism, Kiran compliantly nodded hers, softly remarking, “Right.”

Unfortunately for Kiran and her AM audience, Aly was not right. And, if he were sincerely thinking to himself, “Why is Anthony Weiner following this college girl?,” he might have actually researched his self-posed question and given his AM audience a credible answer. Or, if he had simply watched Bash’s report itself, he would have seen that it contained a “screen grab” of Weiner’s Twitter account: 46,809 people followed Weiner but he followed only 198.*

If CNN’s chief business correspondent had done the math, he would have known that Weiner follows less than half a percentage (0.42%) of his Twitter followers. Whether Ali did the math or not, he should be ashamed of himself for misleading his CNN audience, intentionally or not.

As for Kiran, her “crime” may simply have been “aiding and abetting” her friend Ali–again.

*American Morning – 05/31/11 (@ 7:32 a.m. ET)

Update: As to Weiner’s subsequent spate of interviews with Bash (in which he refused to answer whether the “lewd picture” was of him and in which he caustically called her CNN producer a “jackass”) and other journos, Ali riantly remarked, “I have to tell you–watching it last night on TV, all those interviews, I definitely did not get the impression that he looked as uncomfortable as you would think he would look being confronted of a picture that may or may not be of him in his underwear and being asked these direct questions.” Concluding even less deftly, Aly ovinely opined, “He definitely seemed to have some command of the situation.” [AM – 06/02/11 (@ 8:19 a.m. ET)]

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