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Did Anthony Weiner Actually Hear The Racist Comment That Supposedly Set Him Off?

AP Photo / Shimon Gifter

Weiner's campaign did not respond Thursday to questions about the incident.

When he held his hastily-scheduled press conference, Weiner characterized his response to the man as a stand against racism.

"Who benefits when someone says something racist and you don't -- you treat it as if it's a polite thing to do," said Weiner. "Who benefits from that?"

But the notion that Weiner was responding to a racial remark only emerged hours after the event when his campaign released its own video showing the man in question saying that the former congressman was "married to an Arab."

Based on that footage released by his campaign, it's clear Weiner's Brooklyn battle began as he left the bakery. While he walked out, the man who was standing a few feet behind him at the register said, "you're a real scumbag, Anthony." Weiner turned around.

"Very nice," Weiner said to the man before continuing to exit.

"Married to an Arab," the man muttered as Weiner walked out. He then called Weiner "disgusting," which began a nearly two minute shouting match between them both.

On Thursday, a journalist who witnessed the event first-hand and was in close proximity to Weiner at the time told TPM he only heard the man call Weiner a "scumbag" and "disgusting." Ross Barkan, a reporter at the New York Observer, said he did not hear the man make the comment about Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, who was born in the United States to Indian and Pakistani parents. Barkan was clearly visible walking alongside the candidate on the footage provided by the Weiner campaign. (This reporter worked with Barkan at the Observer prior to joining TPM.)

The other footage of the incident came from a local blogger named Jacob Kornbluh, who could be seen in the clip provided by the Weiner campaign filming a few feet in front of the candidate. Barkan said after the incident, he went to Kornbluh's nearby office to write his story. When the Weiner campaign sent out their video revealing the "Arab" remark, Barkan said he and Kornbluh "conferred" and reviewed their audio.

"I personally did not hear it. Jacob Kornbluh also did not," Barkan said.

Kornbluh did not respond to a request for comment. However, on Twitter Wednesday Kornbluh said the confrontation was provoked by the man calling Weiner "scumbag" and made no mention of the "Arab" comment.

Barkan noted it was impossible to know whether or not Weiner heard something others who were there did not. However, Weiner never mentioned the remark during his lengthy exchange, which consisted of the two men arguing about Weiner's sexting scandal and how much Weiner had "delivered" for the community. Barkan also said Weiner did not cite the "Arab" comment when he spoke to reporters immediately after the confrontation. In fact, Barkan said he specifically asked Weiner what provoked him, and the candidate did not mention the remark.

"I asked him point blank, 'So, why did this person get under your skin? People have yelled at you before. Why did this irk you?" Barkan recounted. "He never mentioned his wife, did not mention the 'Arab' comment.'"

In his story about the event, Barkan wrote that Weiner, "brushed off the confrontation" by saying, "he'd had more heated showdowns with constituents over President Barack Obama's health care plan."

View the Weiner campaign's video of the incident below.

About The Author


Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at