Anthony Weiner has not seen the documentary “Weiner,” opening this weekend, according to the movie’s filmmakers. What he will see is a fly-on-the-wall view of his personal and political life as he set out for mayor of New York in 2013, a portrait that makes him out to be more than a punchline.
What it isn’t is the story of a political comeback, which he wanted as he granted directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg extraordinary access to his run for office after resigning from Congress in 2011 over a sexting scandal.
Instead, “Weiner” is the story of a politician who can’t shake that past, not just because new revelations during his mayoral bid proved disastrous for his campaign, but for the nature of the media environment in running for office today, when the sensational will always capture attention and headlines. The camera is there as he plots an explanation and strategy — to the point of some deception — but also as he refuses to give up. At one point, he talks of going all “Bulworth.”
“There was a sense that opening up their lives would give a more complete picture than the caricature that they became,” says Kriegman, a former congressional chief of staff for Weiner who then turned to filmmaking.
The movie shows some revelatory moments between Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, now a top aide to Hillary Clinton, as they try to cope with the onslaught of the new revelations. In one moment, Abedin, standing in her kitchen, calls their situation a “nightmare,” as Weiner’s poll numbers begin to slide and she faces criticism for staying with him.
Kriegman was in the room as Weiner and Abedin grappled with the latest revelations and what to say to the press. The result is a candid look at how a political crisis is handled, even if Kriegman feared that they would ask him to turn off his camera. They did at certain points — that option was a condition of their access — but they did not at this moment.
Abedin faced criticism for standing by Weiner’s side — but Kriegman says, “In our film we want to question those judgments. Shouldn’t a woman be able to make her own decisions without judgment?”
What is Anthony Weiner’s future? Kriegman says that it’s still in public life.
The Big Rift
David Cohen of Variety and Nikki Schwab of Daily Mail talk about whether the rift between Bernie Sanders and the Democratic party will hurt Clinton in the fall, and what it will take for the fissures to be repaired.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on Thursdays on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.