Assignments / Blog Posts

Weiner SMELL Test: Credibility in 2 articles about Anthony Weiner’s latest scandal

When the New York Post broke the news of Anthony Weiner’s latest sexting scandal on August 28, the article and its shocking contents were quickly spread, with the New York Times promptly following up on Weiner’s actions and their relevance to the 2016 Presidential Campaign. I’m going to conduct the SMELL test on both of these articles to determine their respective credibility.

The New York Post’s “punny” headline is an addition to an extensive collection of headlines playing off of Weiner’s phallic last name.

First off, the primary SOURCE in the Post’s exposure of Weiner is the woman with whom he was exchanging extremely suggestive photos and messages. Concerning the PIE test, the proximity to the event is as close as it gets, since she was the person actually receiving the sexts. Although the source remains anonymous, I still believe her to be credible because it is understandable that she would not want to release her identity in such a big scandal. The source seems to be independent of any direct affiliations that would motivate her to expose Weiner, and although she is not a technical expert on anything in particular, she certainly has some sort of expertise when it comes to knowledge of messages and images sent to her by Mr. Weiner. In comparison, The New York Times, in its different approach concerning the scandal’s relevance to the election has much more commentary from Anthony Weiner himself, as well as others involved in the response (Trump, Clinton’s aides, Huma Abedin, “two people close to the couple”), which gives a better impression of the incident’s reaction.

The MOTIVATION in the Post is definitely entertainment; the article’s shock-value and biting remarks entertain audiences while also informing them of yet another sexting scandal by repeated offender, Weiner. Although it’s full of evidence, the humor is ultimately persuasive in the direction starkly against Weiner, especially since there are only two quotes from him commenting on the situation. The Times’ motivation is clearly to inform the public, as they present info from several sides and further investigate the reactions of those affected, such as Ms. Abedin herself and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Post’s article is abounding with EVIDENCE, and they learned it all from a source ranking high on the PIE test, so it can be deemed decidedly credible. There were even photos from the conversations within the article, but I question whether these could potentially be another woman; I would be slightly more convinced of all of the evidence provided if I saw the actual screenshots the Post cites, but then again, these could also be altered to support the facts in the article anyways. The Times’ evidence is taken from the screenshots from the Post, as well as informants close to Ms. Abedin and Hillary Clinton, so it is also fairly credible.

Now, does all this evidence LOGICALLY support the conclusions made in the articles? In the Post, it assuredly does. The external logic confirms that this news undeniably makes sense in light of Weiner’s previous sexting scandals, while the internal logic proves that it makes sense in terms of the evidence provided. Similarly, Times article is logical externally and internally – it makes sense in light of the scandals and the behavior of those involved in the presidential campaign, and the evidence supports the conclusions made.

But in both of these different, yet respectively and supposedly credible articles, what is LEFT OUT? As stated before, the New York Post failed to include much more information on the side of Anthony Weiner himself, as well as other relevant commentary. In this way, it seems rather one-sided and it makes me question the information at hand: the caustic picture the Post has painted of Weiner, in addition to the anonymous woman’s true motivations. The New York Times, however, included much more information concerning the scandal, its reactions, and those involved; not much was left out for viewers to wonder about. Mainly, I was left questioning whether Weiner’s proximity to Hillary Clinton could have actually been a security concern, but this was not able to be answered by the Times even after asking for a comment, so I don’t think they left out any valuable information.

Everything considered, both articles informed readers of important knowledge concerning an already infamous public figure, but the Post communicated the information in a more entertaining way and the Times did so with a more fair stance, including more relevant evidence and sources that are of interest to the public and to the matter itself.

For more punny Weiner jokes, check out this video:

 

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