In the course of my job, I occasionally read the Politico website for news about … uh, politics. On several recent visits, I’ve noticed something weird going on: One of its most-read stories is a 2013 slideshow called “How Close Are Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton?” whose thumbnail promo image is a picture of Abedin (a longtime Clinton aide) leaning in close to Clinton’s ear as Clinton expresses what might be interpreted as lightly mischievious amusement. You can see it above.
The subtext, particularly if you’ve followed Abedin’s career, seems clear: OMG are they … lesbians? The idea that Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin are gay (and that being gay is gross and weird) is one that’s been pushed during the current election cycle by sleazehounds such as Matt Drudge, Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, and the National Enquirer (which itself has ties to Stone—he was the only person quoted by name in its extremely thin recent story about Ted Cruz’s extremely alleged mistresses).
A Politico spokesperson said the slideshow has been circulating because it was recently posted on a high-traffic Yahoo site and that it is meant only to demonstrate how integral Abedin has been to Clinton’s various endeavors. The spokesperson emphasized that it had been posted in 2013 during one of Anthony Weiner’s stupid appearances in national news and not in response to recent rumors. (Weiner is Abedin’s husband. The characterization of Weiner’s place in American news as “stupid” is mine, not the spokesperson’s.)
Of course, the Hillary-Huma “whispers” existed well before 2013. Michael Musto of the Village Voice wrote about them in 2007, as did the London Times and Drudge. (You can read more about the history of the faux-smear—which ties in with the right-wing-lunatic conspiracy theory that Abedin is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood—in Gawker here.) It’s hard to believe that the various editorial employees of a politics-only news site who were involved in compiling and publishing the images had no idea that there were sexuality-related rumors about Abedin and Clinton. Moreover, the 17 pictures in the slideshow don’t actually really demonstrate anything besides the fact that Abedin occasionally stands next to Clinton; the ones that are dated were all taken between 2007 and 2011—not exactly “pictures that describe their 17 years together so far,” as the post’s intro text claims.
So, Politico says its widely viewed slideshow (whose promo photo comes up as the first Google Image search result for “Hillary Clinton Huma Abedin lesbian”) of otherwise-pointless pictures of Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with the trash-wingosphere’s hairy-palmed ‘shipping of a Hillary-Huma lesbian relationship.