Forget speculation on honey mustard in the Weiner affair. It’s now moved on to whether there has been a honey pot. Two teen girls and one of their mothers submitted false ID to a member of the media when they were trying to get their pro-Weiner message out. Now no one is sure who they are, or what they were up to. But some evidence still does exist proving there was a real person somehow involved: photos.
The Teens Come to Light
Back when Weinergate was bursting at the seams with new daily revelations, one issue that cropped up early was the teenage girls that Rep. Anthony Weiner (a Democrat formerly representing the 9th US House district of New York, located in Brooklyn-Queens) had followed through his Twitter account. One of those girls (who went by the Twitter name of @Starchild111 but had closed her account and had left no threads that enabled me to find her real identity) was included in my post breaking the news that Weiner had also followed and privately messaged a porn actress. The teen had hurriedly contacted Ginger Lee when the actress-turned-stripper tweeted that Weiner had sent her a DM (a private tweet known as a Direct Message).
Eventually, a woman claiming to be the teen’s mother contacted Tommy Christopher at the media website Mediaite. She and the girls wanted to issue statements of full-throated support for Weiner and absolve the congressman of any hint of impropriety with the girl she claimed was her daughter and her daughter’s friend (who had gone by the name of @MarianelaAlicea on Twitter). Christopher published their account of events and their full statements on June 3—after the mother had submitted a copy of her California driver’s license and school photo IDs for the girls as proof that they were who they claimed to be, the former owners of the Starchild111 and MarianelaAlicea Twitter accounts.
In his report, Christopher sought to protect the identity of the girls, who claimed to be minors, by obscuring their real names through use of pseudonyms. He dubbed Starchild111 “Betty” and called her friend “Veronica.” Henceforth, they became known on the Internet and in other media venues as “Betty and Veronica.”
Two weeks later, though, Jennifer Preston at the New York Times published a story late Friday night that said the proofs of ID that teen Weiner tweeter Betty and her mother provided to Christopher were false. Mediaite also confirmed in their own story by Colby Hall that the photo IDs had been faked.
Christopher himself added more explanation late last night in a new Mediaite post.
The Starchild111 Photo
For a period of time, the Starchild Twitter account used a photo of a real girl. [I have found that the account also temporarily used the Twitter Egg (a starter avatar for those who haven't uploaded any image) at the beginning, and then eventually settled on a graphic image of white falling stars on a black background.]
When the story broke late Friday night that the photo IDs were fake, I wondered about that photo on the Twitter account and whether the girl in it matched the one in the faked school photo ID.
The Twitter avatar photo that I had was not an easy photo to find. I initially stumbled across it on an Albanian social media website the Saturday the Weiner scandal was first breaking. I was then able to locate the same photo on the Twitter servers in association with the former Starchild111 account.
This is the Starchild111 that I found. I have pixelated her face, because while the school ID of a person claiming to be Starchild has been faked, I don’t know for sure who this girl is, and therefore, I don’t know her age or the extent of her innocence in the duplicity. [I should also state that there is another woman on the vast World Wide Web that goes by the name of Starchild111. But in my cursory looks at the bulletin boards and sites where she comments, she appears to be much older, possibly living in the United Kingdom and seems to have no relation at all to the @Starchild111 Twitter account.]
So this girl at one point was affiliated in some fashion with Starchild111 tweets. [I also ran the photo through an internet website that will compare photos with nearly two billion others online to see whether it's a photo that was simply grabbed from another site and therefore not unique. That site, TinEye, found no matches for the Starchild111 photo, greatly increasing the likelihood that it was indeed Starchild111, whatever her real name is.]
Other proof that we have is that someone affiliated with the Starchild111 account, which used this photo for a while:
- started the account by at least August 2010;
- used the account for tweeting with celebrities and friends
- then started about Weiner in Spring 2011 and went on a tweet campaign to get Weiner to take her to the prom;
- tended to pop up within hours of any woman appearing to have contact with Weiner on Twitter and made an effort to become ongoing friends with them and learn what Weiner was saying to them;
- became disillusioned with Weiner when he unfollowed her after a very brief follow;
- deleted her account once the Weiner scandal broke (or according to her statement to Mediaite, prior to the scandal);
- and only reemerged through her supposed mother by making contact with Christopher at Mediaite, providing fake proof of ID in their (ultimately successful) attempt to get a wildly pro-Weiner statement published at his website.
Did this one girl do all that?
Or did the person controlling the Starchild111 account change over time? Once the account was closed, virtually anyone could step up and claim to be Starchild111. And someone did. How do we know it was the same girl? That is what Christopher attempted to get at partially in collecting the photo IDs.
The Moment Someone Could Get Tripped Up
Consider this: If the account had been taken over by people intending to protect Weiner and issue a ridiculously over-the-top statement of support for him, did they know that there was a previous photo out there of Starchild111 that they would have to match if required to provide proof of identity? If they knew about the photo but didn’t know the girl in it, would they be simply out of luck if they had to get a new photo of her that would be an appropriate pose for an ID shot?
I wondered, did the fake school photo ID (which obviously could not include a dog as the primary foreground figure) show the same girl, of the same race and general appearance as in the Twitter photo? Or would the statement-writers have complicated matters further by providing a photo of a girl that looked nothing like the Starchild111 avatar photo?
I contacted everyone that I knew had seen the school ID. Preston of the New York Times has yet to respond to my two requests made on Saturday. However, Christopher confirms, via email, that this picture is the one that he compared Betty’s student ID with, and concluded that both photos were of the same person.
Therefore, with the match, the person or group of people that contacted Christopher after the scandal either includes the young woman portrayed in the Starchild Twitter avatar photo or knows her and was able to obtain a photo of her with a school ID pose.
Using the Photo as an Assist to Solving the Mystery
Ace has outlined three theories of the mystery of Betty and Veronica. Before I had confirmation that the Starchild avatar and school ID depict the same girl, I was in Ace’s Theory Three camp: the girls were real teens to start, but later when the Weiner scandal was breaking and they shut their accounts, others—Weiner operatives—began posing as them.
(Ace has also posited some thoughts that perhaps there were Anthony Pellicano enforcer-type tactics used to coerce the accounts away from the girls. I hate to think of politics as being that sick and thuggish in this day and age, but it would be hard to fully deny the sad, yet unlikely possibility. Other theorists suggest it was Democratic political operatives seeking to harm Weiner’s chances in a New York mayoral run. Or that it was a spurned girlfriend or just a jealous sexter that realized she wasn’t the only one. It could fill an entire lengthy post to sketch out all the theories and conspiracies tossed around in the past 48 hours.)
However, with the Starchild111 photos showing the same girl, it’s possible that Ace’s Theory One could be correct: the accounts were always complete fakes (as in purporting to be normal teenage girls with no political motives when in essence they were plotting to either help or hurt Weiner, and they were really high-paid sophisticated operatives that merely carried out their plan in a strangely Three Stooges fashion) from the very beginning. That they intentionally set up these girlie accounts to…do what? To behave in very pro-Weiner manners to pry damaging Weiner info from anti-Weiner conservative tweeters in order to harm the person they wish to protect?
It doesn’t make sense. What did they accomplish? Dampening criticism of Weiner in a scandal they could not have know would occur?
And if they were fake from the git-go, why would they have ever used Starchild111′s photo and locked themselves in on having to keep that girl involved? Names and addresses and details are quite easy to fake and maneuver around to fit the situation. (Take a look at anyone’s resume.) But a photo, even in the days of Photoshop, that’s making a commitment that is hard to back off of or change later.
Oddly enough, it seems that’s one thing that still matches up with the fake IDs.
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