Former CNN anchor Eliot Spitzer is facing two libel lawsuits seeking a total of $90 million, Reuters reported Monday. The suits were filed Friday by two former employees of insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan Cos. The plaintiffs argued that they were defamed in a critical Slate column by Spitzer, written one year ago on August 22.
The plaintiffs are William Gilman and Edward McNenney, who were not mentioned by name in Spitzer's piece about an insurance-rigging scandal. However, the complaint alleged that Spitzer defamed Gilman in his reporting on corrupt activity at Marsh, and in his accusation that "many employees" of the firm were sentenced to jail time – a claim the plaintiffs argued was false.
Spitzer's paragraph in question reads thus (emphasis mine):
The Journal's editorial also seeks to disparage the cases my office brought against Marsh & McLennan for a range of financial and business crimes. The editorial notes that two of the cases against employees of the company were dismissed after the defendants had been convicted. The judge found that certain evidence that should have been turned over to the defense was not. (The cases were tried after my tenure as attorney general.) Unfortunately for the credibility of the Journal, the editorial fails to note the many employees of Marsh who have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms, or that Marsh's behavior was a blatant abuse of law and market power: price-fixing, bid-rigging, and kickbacks all designed to harm their customers and the market while Marsh and its employees pocketed the increased fees and kickbacks. Marsh as a company paid an $850 million fine to resolve the claims and brought in new leadership. At the time of the criminal conduct, Jeff Greenberg, Hank Greenberg's son, was the CEO of Marsh. He was forced to resign.
Before he hosted CNN's 8 p.m. prime-time slot, Spitzer was the attorney general of New York from 1999-2006 before he was elected as the state's governor. During his tenure he earned the nickname "Sheriff of Wall Street" for his heavy-handed dealing with the financial servies industry.
Spitzer then served as governor of New York State until he was ousted in a prostitution scandal in March of 2008. He latched on with CNN in the fall of 2010 to co-host the ill-fated prime-time show Parker-Spitzer. Once co-host Kathleen Parker left CNN, Spitzer hosted the 8 p.m. slot re-named In the Arena, until the show was canceled in July.