Anthony Weiner Sex Scandal: Story Ideas for the Student Press

The latest bombshell in the long-term Anthony Weiner sex scandal is almost surreal — more lewd messages, more X-rated crotch shots, a heels fetish and the online pseudonym Carlos Danger.

Amid the fallout from this new scoop, the subsequent press coverage and the impassioned pleas from New York City media for Weiner to exit the mayoral race, plenty of story ideas are present for the student press. 

Here are four that immediately come to mind.

1. The Cheat Sheet

For those who need a refresher, current Big Apple mayoral hopeful Weiner is a former U.S. congressman who resigned in disgrace in 2011 for sexting and sex-tweeting with numerous women.

The latest scoop is that he continued engaging in promiscuous online tête-à-têtes and graphic photo-sharing with a 22-year-old woman after his resignation — even though he has intimated that by then he had already put that sordidness behind him and was focusing instead on his wife, family and the people of NYC.

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As CBS Chicago reports, the editor of the website that broke the news about the new woman “claimed Weiner and the woman ‘had a relationship for six months, and she believed they were in love.’ The woman said the two never had sex.”

So was he cheating? And what exactly falls under the category of cheating nowadays? It is time to update your school’s cheat sheet.

College students are continually redefining, undercutting and testing the limits of what has traditionally been seen as duplicitous behavior in relationships. Especially in the Internet age and within the omnipresent student hook-up culture, cheating is a more fascinating and multi-faceted creature than ever before — existing on the physical, emotional, mental and digital levels and with gender-based double standards firmly in place.

As a former student sex columnist for The Daily Californian at the University of California, Berkeley, once observed, “One girl I know tends to make out with whomever she’s dancing with once she’s elegantly wasted. Nothing comes of these encounters, and she feels no guilt withholding such details from her man. ‘But what if you found out he was doing the same thing when he went out?’ I pried. She shot me a look of death for such an awful question, snapping, ‘That would be SO not okay.'”

2. The Sugar Baby

One of the more eye-opening details to emerge during the latest round of the Weiner sex chat saga was his apparent faux vow to the 22-year-old woman that he would secure her a job and a condo in Chicago.

Whether it was meant as a serious promise (he did provide an exact address) or simply a turn-on fantasy, it speaks to the wealth and power he felt he possessed and wanted to share (or pretend to share) with someone far younger and not in elite circles.

In student circles, he would be known as a sugar daddy, making the woman his sugar baby. Stories on sugar babies have been appearing with increasing frequency within student media.

The related features focus on the growing number of mostly female students who are engaging in romantic, sexual and apparently financial relationships with gentlemen often old enough to be their fathers — or even grandfathers. Under a mutually acceptable agreement, some or all of the young women’s financial needs are taken care of by their older beaus, including clothes, cars, food, trips and tuition and room and board.

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As one man who runs a company overseeing such arrangements explains to The Tulane Hullabaloo at Tulane University, “The press likes to compare it to prostitution, but it really isn’t. Once, Dr. Drew asked one of the sugar babies why she didn’t strip, and she answered that stripping is degrading for her, but being a sugar baby is more like dating and having a generous person who is willing to help her — perhaps a more extreme form of dating, but dating nonetheless.”

Search for sugar babies at your school. Share their stories and possibly those of the older professionals who enter into relationships with them. Answer readers’ most pressing questions, including how they first meet, routinely interact, arrange payments, maintain secrecy and determine an end date for the arrangement.

3. The Carlos Danger Zone 

In a recent piece on memorable political nicknames, National Public Radio’s Erica Ryan outlines the noms de plume attached to some seminal government leaders. Three biggies: Martin Van Ruin for former president Martin Van Buren (due to the country’s economic woes at the time); Slick Willie for sexually-charged former president Bill Clinton; and Snarlin’ Arlen for iconically cantankerous former senator Arlen Specter.

A new one might now be added to the list: Carlos Danger AKA Anthony Weiner. Carlos Danger is the online handle Weiner adopted when engaging in sexual chats with strangers.

As The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake writes, “[O]ne of the most damning aspects of the whole episode … is the irresistible shorthand we all now have for Weiner’s indiscretions. … Weiner’s biggest problem, to be sure, is the revelation that he continued engaging in such relationships after his resignation from Congress. But ‘Carlos Danger’ really ties it all up in a nice little bow. Expect the nickname to continue to have a life of its own on social media and elsewhere — with all of it working to Weiner’s detriment.”

Whether detrimental or beneficial, individuals’ nicknames always have a story behind them — including for students. Ferret out the best aliases students have been stuck with, or bestowed upon themselves, along with the tales of how they came to be.

One snippet of advice: Along with the silly ‘Carlos Danger’-style pseudonyms, uncover the assumed names with more serious origins — such as those adopted by international students to better fit in with their American peers.

4. “The Single Best Moment” 

The Weiner scandal is built atop an unfortunately expanding set of images displaying the politico’s genitalia. Now, go with me on this one. Yes, you can actually use this as inspiration for a crowdsourced feature.

Your assignment: Obtain memorable photos from your readers, while steering clear of crotch shots. Instead, follow the more inspirational model laid out by Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch.

Deitsch recently came across a photo of two brothers celebrating Yale University’s first NCAA hockey championship (see below) — one of the brothers is a player on the team. The photo touched him so much he asked his 87,000 Twitter followers to send him similarly memorable images featuring “the single best moment of your life.”

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As CBS News reports, “Within minutes came a rush of best moments: Parents’ first moment with a newborn; the moment he asks and she says yes; the moment of homecoming from the danger of war. Dozens, then hundreds of photos streamed in, in what Deitsch describes as a fountain of humanity.”

Request and share similarly happy photos submitted by your student readers. Or go the Deadspin route. The snarky sports news website spoofed Deitsch’s request by asking their readers for “a photo or video of the single Worst Moment of Your Life.”

Anthony Weiner certainly knows about the latter.

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