'Today' Continues Embargo on Spitzer Party Affiliation

For the second consecutive day NBC's "Today" show refused to identify Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat. In a total of seven Spitzer-related segments on Wednesday’s "Today" show and one interview with Barack Obama, where the scandal was mentioned, not one anchor, reporter, guest, talking head or on-screen graphic mentioned Spitzer's party affiliation. However, following the trend on NBC's Nightly News, the "Today" show graphics department did take time to place an "R" next to Rep. Peter King and New York state Rep. Joe Tedisco.

National correspondent Natalie Morales did note that, "the governor was under lots of pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle" to step down but never bothered to note on which side of the aisle Spitzer stood.

The following opening story from the March 12, "Today" show was typical of the rest of NBC News' Spitzer reports, in its refusal to note his party affiliation.

MEREDITH VIEIRA: But we're gonna begin with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer under the gun again today. Our national correspondent Natalie Morales is at the state capital in Albany with an update. Natalie good morning to you.

NATALIE MORALES: And good morning to you Meredith. A lot of confusion here in Albany once again today about whether or not Governor Eliot Spitzer is, in fact, going to resign. As you can see by the local paper, the Times Union, they're already going with the headline that Spitzer is resigning. But meanwhile there are other reports suggesting that people close to Spitzer, including his own wife, may be urging him to stay in office. This as the state's government remains in limbo. Late Tuesday the Governor remained holed up inside his Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City while in Albany the pressure mounted for Spitzer to step down. What if Governor Spitzer doesn't resign?

REP. JAMES TEDISCO, ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER (R): We will have to call upon the speaker to move for articles of impeachment.

MORALES: Spitzer was caught by a federal wiretap after IRS tax investigators found unusual transfers of cash into private accounts.

JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC: First there was some fear that maybe this is money laundering, maybe this is corruption, what's going on here? And then it turned out to be a case of prostitution.

MORALES: Sources now say he used the escort service, Emperors Club VIP, for several years and paid tens of thousands for numerous trysts. This morning, the "Washington Post" reports that the FBI staked out the Mayflower hotel weeks before he was caught on February 13th.

REP. PETER KING, NEW YORK (R): The reality is that, over the years, no one has been more self- righteous or unforgiving than Eliot Spitzer.

MORALES: His year in Albany has been marred by scandal. And it is no secret Spitzer made many enemies as a hard-line law and order crusader.

ELIOT SPITZER ON NOVEMBER 7, 2008: I have been known as the people's lawyer.

SPITZER ON MARCH 10, 2008: I apologize to the public whom I promised better.

MORALES: While Spitzer only admitted to violating his own standards on Monday, he has yet to confess or deny his involvement with the prostitution ring.

DAVID LETTERMAN: He was known as "client nine, client nine." And it looks now like "client nine," will soon be looking for wife number two.

MORALES: He's already the punch line for late night comedians but with all the state's government business on hold, it's no laughing matter. Spitzer's aides have been in contact with Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, next in line for the Governor's job. Paterson, who is legally blind, is New York's highest ranking African-American state legislator.

SPITZER IN CAMPAIGN AD: I simply asked if it was right or wrong. In the end, it's not a bad rule.

MORALES: Only a year into office, a candidate who campaigned on ethics is today tripped up by laws he vowed to enforce. Another interesting note, Spitzer is one of 254 superdelegates already pledged to Senator Hillary Clinton. If he resigns, he will not be replaced as a superdelegate, meaning that Senator Clinton would lose one. Matt.

LAUER: Alright Natalie Morales in Albany this morning. Natalie, thanks very much.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.