NEW YORK (AP) — The blogger who broke the news of Anthony Weiner’s latest round of marital indiscretions said he didn’t go looking for gossip about the former congressman and initially didn’t believe a woman who contacted his site in April claiming to have exchanged sexual texts and photographs with the ex-lawmaker following his 2011 resignation.
“This girl actually reached out multiple times, and I didn’t believe her. I didn’t have confidence in the evidence of the facts. And I kept telling her, ‘I need more. I need more,’” blogger Nik Richie told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday.
The Dirty, a site mainly focused on ridiculing the nightlife scene, isn’t an “investigative newsroom” Richie said, and has sometimes run into legal trouble for posting snarky anonymous comments that turned out to be false. Just this month it was ordered to pay $338,000 in a defamation case brought by a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.
But Richie said he withheld the woman’s material for months while he tried to verify her story. Those efforts didn’t include contacting Weiner’s mayoral campaign, but Richie said after additional review he eventually felt sure the texts and images were legitimate.
“I took a risk and it paid off and I’m just happy that Anthony Weiner confessed to it,” Richie said.
Richie declined to reveal the woman’s identity or put her in contact with the Associated Press, saying he had agreed to protect her anonymity.
He said the woman didn’t ask for money and wasn’t seeking celebrity, but decided to release her X-rated correspondence with Weiner because she was disturbed to hear him claim in interviews that he’d “cured himself” of his past habit of chasing women online.
He also said the woman felt abandoned after Weiner broke off a months-long relationship that, in addition to phone sex and exchanges of nude pictures, also included talks about health care, politics and the former congressman’s cats.
“She thought he loved her,” Richie said. “She was like, ‘You know, I have to do this because I need to save the next girl and I need to make sure he doesn’t do this to someone else.’”
In a news conference Tuesday, Weiner acknowledged continuing to send flirtatious messages to women he met online as recently as last summer, but said he would not abandon his campaign to be New York City’s next mayor. He said some of the claims posted on The Dirty about his relationship with the woman were not true, but declined to say which were inaccurate.
Richie said he was sure that “100 percent” of his Weiner-related posts were truthful.
Since posting the messages, The Dirty has had nearly 1.4 million unique visitors, Richie said — a surge in traffic that has led to challenges keeping the site running smoothly. The site’s previous traffic record came when it posted revealing photographs of Miss California pageant winner Carrie Prejean.
Richie said the woman who provided the material is “a little nervous, a little scared” about the publicity so far. He also predicted that the Weiner campaign would survive.
“I don’t think that this is going to hurt him. I think this is going to help him, which is really sad,” he said, though he added, “He needs to quit the campaign immediately. It’s just a joke. He’s making America look like a joke.”